Singapore International Festival of Arts

For the Historians

Dance doyenne Goh Lay Kuan (right). Revolutionary Model Play 2.0 (left).
Revolutionary Model Play 2.0 (above).PHOTO: WANG CHONG
Dance doyenne Goh Lay Kuan (right). Revolutionary Model Play 2.0 (left).
Dance doyenne Goh Lay Kuan (above).PHOTO: THE THEATRE PRACTICE

You believe the past is a repository of knowledge for all ages and hungrily devour any historical texts you can find. Here are five works that may interest you.


By: One Kind Theatre

This musical is inspired by the lives of pioneer artists such as Liu Kang and Georgette Chen, who fled war-torn China to settle in Singapore and developed the Nanyang style of painting. Where: Drama Centre Theatre

When: Aug 6 and 7, 8pm; Aug 8, 3 and 8pm

Admission: $25 to $75

  • Win free tickets

    Here is your chance to catch one of the highlights of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) for free.

    Eight lucky winners will each win a pair of tickets to one of these productions: Dementia by Proton Theatre; Returning by Goh Lay Kuan; Versus by Cake Theatrical Productions; and Six Characters In Search Of An Author by Theatre de la Ville.

    This is what you need to do:

    a) Take a selfie with today's Life cover

    b) Instagram the selfie with the hashtag #sifasgst and tag the official Sifa account at @sifa_sg to notify them of the upload.

    You have to include the following text: "I want to watch (name of one of the four productions)."

    Note: To enter the contest, Instagram users will need to make their profiles public.

    The contest runs from today to Aug 1. The winners will be selected and notified by Sifa on Aug 3.

    It will post the results on its social media platforms and also contact the winners directly. Winners will collect their tickets at the door.


By: Goh Lay Kuan

This multi-racial, multi-cultural contemporary performance helmed by dance doyenne Goh Lay Kuan pays homage to the tenacity of the salmon, which swims upstream to its birthpoint. Dance pioneers such as Santha Bhaskar and Som Said are also involved in the production.

Where: Drama Centre Theatre

When: Aug 13 to 15, 8pm

Admission: $25 to $75


By: Wild Rice

This four-hour epic, divided into two parts and set in a hotel, traces the journey of Singapore as a British colony in 1915 to a sovereign country.Directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei, it stars theatre heavyweights such as Lim Kay Siu and Jo Kukathas.

Where: Victoria Theatre

When: Part 1, Aug 27 and Aug 29, 8pm, and Aug 30, 3pm; Part 2, Aug 28 to 30, 8pm

Admission: $40 to $80


By: Theatre du Reve Experimental and Lasalle College of the Arts

Chinese director Wang Chong, who specialises in experimental theatre, helms this documentary-style performance, which features actors from Lasalle College of the Arts. Revisit history through the multiple cameras and video projections in this work, which scrutinises the yangbanxi, propagandistic plays conceived by Jiang Qing, wife of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

Where: The Singapore Airlines Theatre, Lasalle College of the Arts

When: Sept 2 to 4, 8pm

Admission: $25 to $45


By: Bhaskar's Arts Academy

The Slaying Of Dussasana, an epic of war, revenge, love and peace based on a Sanskrit poem of ancient India, was first staged in the old Victoria Theatre in 1954 by dancers from Kerala, India.

Now, the work has inspired a new performance choreographed by Indian dance pioneer Bhaskar, who will tell the classic story through martial arts and indigenous Indian dance forms.

Where: Victoria Theatre

When: Sept 4 and 5, 8pm

Admission: $25 to $60

In the spotlight: Goh Lay Kuan, 76, artistic director of Returning

What inspired you to create this production?

I read a National Geographic article on the salmon in the 1980s and it just stuck in my mind. The salmon has such a strong thirst for life, it is willing to swim upstream and back to its natal point. It is so determined.

What challenges did you face in doing this show?

I haven't done a production for about 15 years. I stopped after my husband, dramatist Kuo Pao Kun, died.

I also wanted everyone in the production to be in tandem and to be able to work together.

Why did you cast multiple generations of dancers?

We are focusing on the younger generation this time. I started this by approaching first-generation dancers such as Santha Bhaskar, then we got the choreographers, who chose the dancers. This is a platform for them to experience the strength of working together. Right now in the dance scene, we have a lot of talent, but it's all disparate.

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

I hope the audiences, especially Singaporeans, can see the show and tell us whether they can recognise anything in it, so we know if we're in the right direction.

I hope people can experience the power and the life force of the salmon. It speaks to the human experience.

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 Historians '. Subscribe