Re-telling the founding of Singapore told through Indian classical music and puppets

The show, named for the Sanskrit word for "heart", returns to the moment in 1819 when Raffles first lays eyes on the island and envisions its future as a trading hub.
The show, named for the Sanskrit word for "heart", returns to the moment in 1819 when Raffles first lays eyes on the island and envisions its future as a trading hub.PHOTO: COURTESY OF TEMPLE OF FINE ARTS
The show features wayang kulit shadow puppetry.
The show features wayang kulit shadow puppetry.PHOTO: COURTESY OF TEMPLE OF FINE ARTS

SINGAPORE - Poetry, puppets and painting come together for Hrdaya - Heartstrings, a stage production on Aug 16 and 17 by non-profit arts group Temple of Fine Arts that retells the story of Sir Stamford Raffles, inspired by the Singapore bicentennial.

The show, named for the Sanskrit word for "heart", returns to the moment in 1819 when Raffles first lays eyes on the island and envisions its future as a trading hub.

It features wayang kulit shadow puppetry and the recital of poems by the likes of Khalil Gibran, Langston Hughes, Rabindranath Tagore and William Blake.

This will be accompanied by a live orchestra of 30 musicians, performing an original score that combines Indian classical music - both Hindustani and Carnatic styles - with Western arrangements.

Temple of Fine Arts assistant treasurer Shivanesh Somasundram, 30, says that some pieces in the show have been in the works since as early as 2013 and they started preparing for the full-scale production more than a year ago.

He says of Raffles: "His founding (of Singapore) had such impact on Singapore and its people today, but perhaps he too was in some ways very much like us, chartering his own destiny, finding comfort in love in his life, battling the unknown.

"Through showing this side to him, we hope to be able to draw a parallel between him then and us now."

Alongside the show is an exhibition in the theatre foyer of eight paintings by sitar teacher Kalpana Paranjothy, which are inspired by the various music compositions.

  • VIEW IT/HRDAYA - HEARTSTRINGS

  • WHERE: School of the Arts Drama Theatre, 1 Zubir Said Drive

    WHEN: Aug 16, 7.30pm and Aug 17, 3 and 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: Free, donations encouraged.

    INFO: www.tfasg.org