Distanced by Covid-19, Singapore International Festival of Arts gets hybrid

Scott Silven will perform The Journey.
Scott Silven will perform The Journey.PHOTO: DAVID WILKINSON

SINGAPORE - In these pandemic times, the performers of next month's Singapore International Festival of Arts have found necessity to be the mother of invention.

Some have found ways of beaming themselves in remotely. Others have opted for a "hybrid" production with actors present digitally and in the flesh.

This year's event, the final leg in festival director Gaurav Kripalani's tenure, returns from May 14 to 30 with more than 60 shows by local and international acts.

Public response has been positive since ticket sales opened last month. While festival organiser Arts House Limited declines to reveal sales figures, it says several shows sold out right away.

It adds that it is exploring ways of offering more seats in light of the National Arts Council's latest advisory that zoning is no longer required for live performances, which may have up to 750 audience members with pre-event testing.

Singapore International Festival Of Arts

Where: Various venues; online

When: May 14 to 30; video-on-demand from June 5 to 12

Admission: Tickets start at $8 for video-on-demand, $10 for front-row student tickets and $15 for selected in-theatre programmes. Go to sifa.sg or call 6348-5555. Video-on-demand tickets will be on sale from Monday

Info: Singapore International Festival Of Arts' website

Chekhov crossover took 'more planning than Broadway'

A modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters will see Singapore's Nine Years Theatre and New York's Siti Company "come together" on stage, even as the actors remain socially distanced and all of 15,000km apart.

When the production premieres at the Singapore International Festival of Arts next month, actors from Singapore will perform onstage at the National Library Drama Centre Theatre.


Vengeful Japanese ghost wife takes the stage

Playwright Chong Tze Chien was on a research trip in Tokyo seven years ago when a local told him about Oiwa, one of Japan's most famous ghosts.

Oiwa, as legend has it, was the beautiful wife of a samurai in the Edo period. After she was disfigured and murdered by her husband, she appeared as a ghost to avenge herself.


Put your ear to the ground in a garden of the Syrian dead

In Gardens Speak by Tania El Khoury, 10 speakers are "buried" in four tonnes of soil. PHOTO: JESSE HUNNIFORD

During the Syrian uprising, they were killed and buried in gardens.

Now, the stories of these 10 ordinary people can be heard in Gardens Speak, a haunting sound installation by Lebanese-British artist Tania El Khoury.


Surveillance and singing in a Singapore public square

Sophia Brous will be "sounding the city" in the run-up to her performance. PHOTO: BRETT WALKER

Next month, somewhere in a public square in Singapore, a security camera will "sing" a libretto.

Pedestrians will be under remote surveillance by a woman in Melbourne, who will - without being visible to them - comment on the scene, issue instructions and sing in real time.


Other overseas highlights

An interactive performance by a Scottish illusionist and an audio walk in central Singapore are some overseas productions local audiences can look forward to, besides the Singapore International Festival of Arts' headline commissions.

The Journey by mentalist Scott Silven is a 50-minute digital experience that begins in Glasgow, Scotland, against the landscape of Silven's childhood home.

Silven wanted it to feel as close to his live shows as possible. "What we have created is something that not only feels like a live experience, but is deeply interactive and immersive, as the audience's input directly affects key moments of the show."

Audiences of 30 will receive "special films and a binaural sound experience" before the show and will be asked to bring along objects of meaning to them.

Another highlight is En Route, an immersive audio journey where participants put on headsets and walk through the streets of a Singapore neighbourhood, guided by text messages and hidden clues.

Designed by Melbourne collective One Step At A Time Like This, it encourages people to see their city with fresh eyes.

The Journey

Scott Silven will perform The Journey. PHOTO: DAVID WILKINSON

Where: Online

When: May 18 to 23; 25 to 30, 7pm

Admission: $40

En Route

En route, an immersive journey by Australian group One Step At A Time Like This. PHOTO: JANE BARLOW

Where: Central Singapore

When: May 14 to 16; 19 to 23; 26 to 30, at 11am, 2.30 and 5pm

Admission: $35