Five Questions with Goh Boon Teck on NDP 2017

Published on 7 August 2017

NDP 2017's Creative Director, Goh Boon Teck (CREDIT: Lionel Lai (Acepix))

Before the nation catches the National Day Parade 2017 on 9 August, we chat with its Creative Director to get the lowdown on Singapore’s biggest show.

By Pamela Ho

Singapore celebrates 52 years of nationhood on 9 August, with a spectacular show to be held at The Float @ Marina Bay. The first National Day Parade (NDP) held at this breathtaking venue was back in 2007. It’s exactly 10 years on, and we are back – complete with the same Creative Director who helmed that first NDP at the Floating Platform.

Goh Boon Teck, Chief Artistic Director of local theatre company, Toy Factory Productions, takes the reins once again, putting his decades of experience in the theatre scene on the national stage with a show segment – themed #OneNationTogether – that showcases Singaporeans’ collective strength and determination. So what do we need to know before the show? We throw Goh five questions to find out more…

NDP 2017 boasts a revolving stage and two moveable LED screens (CREDIT: NDP 2017 Publications Committee)

Q: Why the theme #OneNationTogether? 

GOH: It took the committee about three months to decide on the theme #OneNationTogether at the end of 2016. The world is changing its systems and games, and there are so many new or unknown challenges for Singaporeans to face. To brave the future, our togetherness becomes crucial.

Q: What did you set out to achieve for this year’s show?

GOH: I want a younger NDP, an NDP which dares to make mistakes by being a little different, an NDP with a bit of darkness and definitely less sweet and rosy; an NDP which questions our shortcomings. As such, I removed all stage time of explaining history and focused on current issues and aspirations. I want a show with shorter scenes, faster pacing, and a contemporary aesthetic; a show that’s also inclusive – not just in terms of race, language, and age, but also people with special needs.

Q: There are several ‘firsts’. What inspired you to push for them?

GOH: We are operating on a leaner budget this year but we are not short-changing on any effects! For the first time in NDP, the spectators will be treated to 13 hydraulic systems, a 22-metre diameter revolving stage, a robot host, a performance involving 300 Intel drones, Parkour, and The Purple Symphony, an inclusive orchestra. I’d say tackling these difficult tasks really pulled the team together. I think we’re better trained to take on more technically complex shows in the future!

Q: In translating vision to reality, what was your biggest challenge?

GOH: This is definitely the most difficult project in my 29-year theatre career! To create a cohesive show on this scale is daunting as well as draining. Plans are drafted and re-drafted many times; and it’s also extremely hard to gear all 35 departments in one creative direction. Thankfully, I have a very capable team to bring this to fruition.

Q: What is your personal takeaway from this experience?

GOH: Through a production like NDP, I’ve gained knowledge of the latest technical developments, which will be beneficial for my future theatre making. I’ve given my all to this year’s NDP – all my passion in the arts and my love for my country. I hope everyone will enjoy the show!

NDP 2017 Highlights

The NDP 2017 Show segment comprises six Acts, and features 3,000 performers, aged four to 81. Here’s our pick of what to look out for:

The Aerial System x LED Screens (CREDIT: 1 NDP 2017 Publications Committee)

The Stage

For the first time at an NDP held at The Float @ Marina Bay, there will be an aerial system integrated into the stage design, elevating performers and props 20 metres above the ground! The main stage revolves too, and boasts two moveable LED screens that can combine into one giant screen.

Drones at NDP 2017 2 (CREDIT: Ministry of Defence)

The 300 Drones

No, it’s not fireworks! Another first for NDP is the 300 unmanned drones that will take to the night sky in breathtaking formations, including a giant heart and even the Merlion!

Grandma Mary (CREDIT: Ministry of Defence)

The Grandma Guitarist

She may be 81-years-old, but Mary Ho – or Grandma Mary, as she’s affectionately called – will rock an electric guitar solo on stage! This is her first time performing at NDP.

Parkour makes its NDP debut with 30 freerunners from A2 Movement (CREDIT: NDP 2017 Publications Committee)

The Urban Freerunners

You’ll recognise Parkour (urban freerunning) from Hollywood blockbusters like Assassin’s Creed (2016) and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010). Catch 30 freerunners from A2 Movement (Act 3).

The Purple Symphony (CREDIT: NDP 2017 Publications Committee)

The Purple Symphony

Making its NDP debut is Singapore’s first inclusive orchestra, comprising musicians with and without special needs. 24 members (from the 90-strong orchestra) will take the stage in Act 5.

Mediacorp will broadcast NDP 2017 live on 9 August from 5.40pm to 8.30pm on its TV, radio and Toggle platforms. For more information on NDP 2017, click here.

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