M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2018

Ticket sales at M1 Singapore Fringe Festival almost doubled

Sold-out performances at this year's M1 Singapore Fringe Festival include Attempts: Singapore featuring Sabrina Sng (above).
Sold-out performances at this year's M1 Singapore Fringe Festival include Attempts: Singapore featuring Sabrina Sng (above).PHOTO: ANDRE CHONG

More than 4,700 out of about 5,100 festival tickets were sold this year - compared with about 2,600 sold last year

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2018, which ended on Sunday, had mostly full houses, even though it programmed the highest number of shows in recent years - 46 compared with 21 ticketed performances last year and 29 in 2016.

Ticketed attendance almost doubled at the 12-day festival, compared with last year. More than 4,700 tickets were sold out of about 5,100 issued this year - 92 per cent sales - compared with about 2,600 sold in 2017.

The annual festival sponsored by telco M1 is organised under the aegis of local troupe The Necessary Stage (TNS).

The festival's executive producer, Ms Melissa Lim, general manager of TNS, said: "This Fringe has demonstrated that we have a Singapore audience with an appetite for thought-provoking, invigorating Fringe works."

The festival had 13 ticketed events and three free programmes, including a re-creation of Singaporean artist Amanda Heng's 1999 performance against beauty stereotypes, Let's Walk.

Let's Walk was the theme around which the festival was programmed this year, with all works referring to Heng's theme in some way.

Festival director Sean Tobin said having a theme helps artists and viewers engage better. "Many audience members attend a number of events and enjoy making connections between them," he said.

"Artists, both local and international, find a space where their unique work is appreciated and celebrated and where their work is free to find greater significance as it plays alongside other works that explore related themes."

Several festival commissions featuring local artists sold out this year. These included intimate shows that could accommodate about 30 people at a time, such as Hayat by Pink Gajah Theatre, an intimate docu-theatre performance about ageing; and theatrical game experience, Attempts: Singapore by Rei Poh.

Edith Podesta's dance-theatre work, The Immortal Sole, filled 93 per cent of the Esplanade Theatre Studio, which seats more than 200 people.

Two Singapore commissions featured under the festival's Fresh Fringe label for works still in progress also sold out. These were One Thousand Millennials Crying by Kenneth Chia and Mitchell Fang; and Does This Work For You? by The Nervous System, both staged in the Esplanade Rehearsal Studio, which can hold 100 people.

Popular performances from overseas included refugee drama Displaced by Ground Cover Theatre from Canada; a feminist striptease by Julia Croft from New Zealand, If There's Not Dancing At The Revolution, I'm Not Coming; and Israeli director Emanuella Amichai's black look at domesticity, The Neighbour's Grief Is Greener.

Festivalgoer Theng Wai Mun, an administrator in his 30s, caught six shows this year, including Displaced.

He said he would have liked the festival to last longer. "There was a strong message from each of the works that gave the audience food for thought and a better understanding of how works are being developed in different parts of the world."

Counting attendance at free events, the festival reported an overall attendance of more than 6,700. Organisers could not give total attendance figures for last year, as free events in 2017 included a sketch artist travelling on the MRT and interacting with an unspecified number of people.

Next year's festival will run from Jan 16 to 27 and be curated in response to Still Waters, a performance art piece involving glass dams at the Singapore Art Museum.

It was created in 1998 by Singapore-based Australian artist Suzann Victor. Organisers have opened a call for proposals until noon on March 2.

•Find out more at www.singaporefringe.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2018, with the headline 'Attendance at ticketed shows almost doubled'. Print Edition | Subscribe