Singapore theatre groups take to TikTok and Telegram for online festival

Spacebar Theatre actors Lee Shu Yu (left) and Eugene Koh, who were involved in the creation of multi-platform production Hey, I Moved!. PHOTO: SPACEBAR THEATRE

SINGAPORE - All the world's a stage - and that includes your TikTok feed.

With live performances still hobbled by Covid-19 restrictions, seven independent theatre groups here have taken to social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube to put on a new online festival.

The Strike! Digital Festival, which is spearheaded by groups Patch & Punnet and The Second Breakfast Company, is predominantly produced by millennials.

It will be hosted on popular messaging application Telegram from April 21 to May 2, during which online productions will be made accessible via hyperlinks shared in a Telegram chat group.

The Second Breakfast Company artistic director Adeeb Fazah, 29, says: "Everything was severely disrupted last year and we were left with absolutely no way of doing live performances. The core idea with this festival was for us to not fade into the background and (to) find new ways to be creative with what we currently have.

"Coming online, we are looking to reach audiences who are already on these platforms and may not be aware that they are the next generation of ticket-buyers."

The Second Breakfast Company's offering, Search Engine, will appear as 17 short videos on TikTok.

It is based on the Subaru Challenge, where participants vying for a Subaru car have to leave their palms on the vehicle for as long as possible.

"One of the things we wanted to capitalise on was people's short attention spans," says Adeeb. "So with TikTok, we basically showed snippets of things happening during the challenge."

Hey, I Moved!, a collaboration between groups Attempts and Spacebar Theatre, straddles five digital platforms - Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, YouTube and Instagram.

Spacebar Theatre co-founder Eugene Koh, 27, calls it a "puzzle adventure" of sorts.

It explores the various online accounts of the protagonist, Carmen, in a work that is part theatre, part game. Audience members will have to interact with the content on each platform to solve problems and piece together a password to unlock Carmen's old Wordpress account at the end.

This could take anywhere between 15 minutes and a few hours.

The production team for Search Engine by The Second Breakfast Company. PHOTO: THE SECOND BREAKFAST COMPANY

"The production is tied to the idea of digital nostalgia," says Koh. "By exploring what Carmen leaves behind on her blogs, we hope to remind audiences of their own pasts on the Internet."

Admission to the festival is free, though Adeeb says there will be options to make a digital donation at the end of each performance.

Interior designer and marketing manager Melody Ann Gibson, who plans to attend the festival, is curious to find out how the productions will be adapted to the various social media platforms.

Spacebar Theatre actors Lee Shu Yu (left) and Eugene Koh pictured here as Captain Ying and Captain Ong in the play The Utama Spaceship (2020). PHOTO: SPACEBAR THEATRE

The 26-year-old says: "Sometimes we may have preconceived notions of what theatre is, but I feel it's important to be open-minded."

"I think this is a refreshing and novel concept and it's something that I'm really looking forward to."

View It / Strike! Digital Festival

Where: Telegram, Blogger, Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr, Wordpress and YouTube

When: April 21 to May 02

Admission: Free

Info: Strike! Festival's Instagram

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