Best of the Fest

Published on 3 August 2015

Can’t decide which performances to catch at the 2015 Singapore International Festival of Arts? Here are some hot picks.

TEXT BY JO TAN

KUMAR’S LIVING TOGETHER

6,8,13,15 August at HDB estates islandwide

This supremely Singaporean, hilarious, heartland-touring free programme is a theatre piece featuring a stellar cast. Performed by five comedians — Kumar, international-touring stand-up comedian Sharul Channa, Shane Mardjuki and Koh Chieng Mun, screen stars with comic flair, and singer/actress Zaliha Hamid — this demographically-balanced production is about life in an HDB estate. The show is co-presented by Hoods Inc Productions, home to some of the main brains behind legendary Ch 5 sitcom Under One Roof.

NANYANG, THE MUSICAL

6-8 August, Drama Centre Theatre

Alec Tok has never feared pushing boundaries. After performing in or co-producing and/or directing works like mega-musical December Rains in Singapore in the 1990s, Tok started championing Singapore works overseas, producing and directing pieces like Three Children as well as The Coffin Is Too Big for the Hole in the United States and Shanghai. He also produced and directed various films.

Writing, producing and directing Nanyang, the Musical marks Tok’s return to the Singapore stage after 15 years, with characters inspired by Singapore’s early artists. “I had been interested in the story of pioneer artist Georgette Chen ever since artist Jimmy Ong recommended a filming of her biopic. Through her, I became interested in four other artists: Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi, Liu Kang and Cheong Soo Pieng. I was impressed by how, despite being at the top of their game, they made a trip to Bali to seek a breakthrough in their craft,” he explains.

RETURNING

13-15 Aug, Drama Centre Theatre

Inspired by the life cycle of the salmon, known for its ability to brave miles of treacherous waters to spawn, this dance epic was conceptualised by Goh Lay Kuan, Singapore dance pioneer and Cultural Medallion recipient. The performance combines Chinese, Malay and Indian dance, uniting different generations of dance-makers and creative artists in Singapore — Meenakshy Bhaskar, Jenny Neo, Osman Abdul Hamid, Sudirman bin Mohamed and Low Ee Chiang — setting choreography to original music by composers like Ampili Pradeep from Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, the OrkeStar Trio and Ho Wen Yang. Says musical director Julian Wong, “Each culture lends itself to a particular story from the life cycle, like alevins emerging from the gravel and separating from their yolk sac, or smolts getting ready to leave freshwater for the ocean. It’s a unique combination of musicians and instruments: Bhaskar’s Arts Academy’s veena, violin, voice and Indian percussion; the OrkeStar Trio’s accordion, gambus and Malay percussion; Rit Xu plays bansuri, dizi, xiao, silver flute; Derek Koh joins us on keyboard, percussion and yangqin; Brandon Voo plays violoncello, and giving us a contemporary, electric sound is Din Safari, one of Singapore’s most respected bass players.”

Tickets are available via SISTIC. For more information, check out sifa.sg.

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