From play starring Sharon Au to show about dementia: Acts to catch at Esplanade's Huayi festival

A scene from The Long Goodbye by Taiwanese company Story Works. COURTESY OF ESPLANADE, THEATRES ON THE BAY

SINGAPORE - The Esplanade's Huayi - Chinese Festival of Arts takes on some heavy topics, with plays on dystopia and dementia among the offerings.

The 18th edition of the annual festival, which celebrates Chinese New Year, runs next year from Jan 31 to Feb 9. Tickets go on sale on Oct 24.

Headline commissions include Seven Sages Of The Bamboo Grove by home-grown theatre company Toy Factory Productions, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year.

It moves the seven sages, a group of scholars and artists from the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, to a futuristic surveillance state in which all humanity is controlled through technology and artistic endeavours are forbidden.

Actress Sharon Au, who has been working in France, returns to Singapore for this show, which is directed by Goh Boon Teck and also stars Nelson Chia, Tang Shao Wei and Loh Jun Hong.

Taiwanese company Story Works presents The Long Goodbye, in which an author is diagnosed with dementia and can only remember the events of his bestselling book about being a father to his youngest son, who is now an adult learning to care for his father.

In Hong Kong Repertory Theatre's play Principle, a campus crisis unfolds when a new, authoritarian principal takes charge of a school and clashes with the compassionate, long-serving vice-principal.

Emerging Singapore theatre company GroundZ-0 challenges audiences to discern fact from fiction in Prism Of Truth, in which they take part as jury members confronted with testimonies from a bloody murder mystery.

Dance fans can look forward to Almost 55, an autobiographical solo by veteran Hong Kong dancer Qiao Yang, who is in her 50s. In this piece created for her by Taiwanese choreographer Chou Shu-yi, she traces her journey from her home town of Shaanxi in China to Hong Kong.

The festival's traditional music offerings range from a sanxian concert by Singapore artist Jessica Lu to Unspoken Melodies, in which the Singapore Chinese Orchestra accompanies segments from Western silent films such as Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (1931) and Buster Keaton's Rome from Three Ages (1923) with original scores.

For families, there is puppet theatre show Gullinkambi by Taiwan's Bon Appetit Theatre, set in a small town near the North Pole, in which a little girl called Sonna goes in search of her missing best friend, a polar bear.


WHERE: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive

WHEN: Jan 31 to Feb 9, 2020

ADMISSION: Tickets go on sale on Oct 24, various prices from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to


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