Singapore International Festival of Arts

For the Heartlanders

Home-grown theatre company Drama Box's mobile theatre GoLi (above). Comedian Kumar in Living Together (left).
Home-grown theatre company Drama Box's mobile theatre GoLi (above). PHOTO: DRAMA BOX
Home-grown theatre company Drama Box's mobile theatre GoLi (above). Comedian Kumar in Living Together (left).
Comedian Kumar in Living Together (above).PHOTO: JASON WONG

You enjoy hanging out in your neighbourhood and like performances that get you laughing or humming along, and take on issues close to your heart. Here are three productions that take art to the people.


By: Kumar

Stand-up comedian Kumar and his team of actors will stage a series of live performances in neighbourhoods islandwide, performed in the local languages. They will tackle everyday topics such as confusion over the Central Provident Fund and the erosion of the communal kampung spirit.

Where: Various locations, go to together

When: Aug 6, 8, 13 and 15, 8pm

Admission: Free


By: PassionArts (People's Association)

Inspired by how Singaporeans open their homes to friends and relatives during festivals such as Hari Raya and Chinese New Year, Sifa has tied up with the People's Association to bring theatre into 25 actual homes islandwide. Artists such as director Ian Loy and choreographer Ebelle Chong will do away with elaborate sets to stage intimate Singapore- themed performances co-created with ordinary folk. These include Arranged Marriage, set at a Hindu wedding ceremony.

Where: Open houses all over Singapore, go to for details

When: Sept 5, 6, 12 and 13, 10am, noon, 2, 4 and 6pm

Admission: Free, but pre-booking recommended due to limited space


By: Drama Box

An MRT station has to be built in a housing estate, but something must be demolished to make way for it. This is the dilemma in The Lesson, a forum theatre piece. Audience members can step into the shoes of the characters at various points to change how the production unfolds.

Presented by home-grown theatre company Drama Box, the piece will be facilitated by theatre practitioner Li Xie and staged in the company's outdoor inflatable theatre GoLi.

Where: GoLi - The Moving Theatre, outside Toa Payoh Public Library at Toa Payoh Central

When: Sept 9 and 11, 8pm (in Mandarin); Sept 10 and 12, 8pm (in English)

Admission: Free. Register at

In the spotlight: Kumar, 47, creator of Living Together

Why go out to the heartland?

I've always wanted to do something for the heartlanders, to get them to laugh.

I moved to an HDB flat recently, from Orchard Road where I used to live, and I feel there's a lot of anger and sadness among people. I feel people are disconnected and we've lost our soul. The concept is to show them that in a funny way.

What issues does the production focus on?

I'm telling the story from the viewpoints of people of different ages and the struggles they go through.

We have a woman in her 60s struggling with the generation gap, a younger girl struggling to make a million dollars and a foreigner who loves Singapore and is trying to blend in.

How will this production be different from your usual stand-up routines?

It's more family-oriented, so it's not going to be me doing what I do in bars. I'm not going in drag, but as Kumar. I'm not going against any rules or talking about current issues and politics. This will be about bringing back that kampung feel.

What challenges did you face in conceptualising this production?

There weren't many, as I had these characters in my mind for the longest time. One thing was that we had to change the script to make references to current issues and changing policies.

I also wanted it to be clever because I think heartlanders can handle clever humour.

What do you hope audience members will take away from this production?

I want them to leave smiling at the first person they see and to remember to be friendly with their neighbours.

It is also a wake-up call for them to see the problems they go through in life.

Lee Jian Xuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'For the Heartlanders '. Print Edition | Subscribe