Arts Festival unveils full programme including Nikhil Chopra's 50-hour performance

A 50-hour performance piece by celebrated Indian artist Nikhil Chopra about India's fight against colonialism, and a four-day journey through 20th century music by the London Sinfonietta and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra.

These are some of the dramatic finishing touches to the Singapore International Festival of Arts' inaugural edition from Aug 12 to Sept 21.

Festival director Ong Keng Sen, 50, announced on Apr 8 the final six productions of the $6.5-million festival.

Performance artist Chopra's sprawling piece, titled Give Me Your Blood And I Will Give You Freedom, will map out stark landscapes of black ink onto a white canvas, a metaphor for a dark and bloody battle. Audience members are free to come and go throughout the length of this festival commission, a live installation which blends theatre and visual art.

Classical music lovers can take their pick of a series of concerts spread over four days that outline a musical journey from 19th-century composers, the likes of Claude Debussy, to present-day creators such as James MacMillan and Tom Ades. It is presented by London's Southbank Centre and will be performed by the London Sinfonietta and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra.

The festival's theme of Legacy and the Expanded Classic is perhaps most apparent in The Chorus; Oedipus - South Korean director Seo Jae-Hyung reinvents the myth of King Oedipus by putting a musical spin on the classic Greek tragedy. The song-filled adaptation was first performed to sell-out crowds in Seoul.

Some of the more intimate shows include Belgian artist Miet Warlop's Mystery Magnet, a psychedelic, surreal work at the intersection of visual art and theatre; a double-bill by South African artists Mamela Nyamza and Mojisola Adebayo tackling the violent proliferation of "corrective" hate rape in their country, as well as issues of gender identity; and young Iranian playwright Amir Reza Koohestani's theatre debut here, Amid The Clouds, which follows the lives of two Iranian asylum seekers who take on a dangerous journey in their desperation to begin a new life.

These shows round out a star-studded lineup of 12 productions in the main programme, heavy on big names such as the Berliner Ensemble, which will be staging J. M. Barrie's beloved Peter Pan under the direction of American thespian Robert Wilson. Famed French choreographer Jerome Bel will present his 2012 production Disabled Theatre, a collaboration with disabled professional actors of Zurich's Theater Hora.

The festival is bookended by two blockbuster shows: celebrated British composer Michael Nyman's opera, Facing Goya, and New York experimental theatre company The Wooster Group's postmodern take on Shakespeare's Troilus & Cressida.

corriet@sph.com.sg

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