Islandwide heritage panels and immersive theatre performances for Heritage Festival 2019

The public can hop on a bus and watch actors onboard tell stories of the 1970s, a time when life was simpler, in a show called PlayRide - An Omnibus Of Singapore's Unwritten Histories.
The public can hop on a bus and watch actors onboard tell stories of the 1970s, a time when life was simpler, in a show called PlayRide - An Omnibus Of Singapore's Unwritten Histories.PHOTO: SINGAPORE HERITAGE FESTIVAL

SINGAPORE - After a night out for dinner at Simpang Bedok, get a bit of history lesson before hopping on a bus home.

From March 15 to April 7, a panel at the bus stop near Simpang Bedok Post Office will detail how one of the earliest recorded mentions of Bedok was in 1604 by cartographer Manuel Godinho de Eredia, who referred to it in his map as "Sunebodo" - Sungei Bedok.

As part of the National Heritage Board's 16th edition of the Singapore Heritage Festival, facts, anecdotes and stories from the past will be displayed at about 100 panels islandwide along the routes of bus services 2, 30, 147 and 222.

NHB in its release on Monday (March 4) said each panel gives a peek "at how the past and present of each space makes it unique". It is the first such effort for the board.

The other panels highlight the presence of the home of Malay royalty (the Istana Kampong Gelam), a former hot spot for motorsports (Pasir Panjang Road Pasir View Park) and a former menagerie of animals (Punggol Road) with a collection of more than 200 animals and 200 birds by animal lover and estate owner William Lawrence Soma Basapa.

Mr Jervais Choo, NHB's programmes director of the festival, said: "Ride and Discover is the festival's first island-wide exhibition that re-imagines bus stop panels as exhibition spaces.

"In doing so, we tell the stories of the places around these bus stops, showing that heritage is all around us, in everyday, ordinary spaces. We hope that this will get Singaporeans exploring places in Singapore they might have overlooked, and in doing so, discover facets of Singapore's history."

The Singapore Heritage Festival which runs from March 15 to April 7, will take place over four weekends at Kampong Glam, Armenian Street, Bedok, Telok Blangah and Kranji.

The festival, which is a special Bicentennial edition, aims to tell the stories of how Singapore came to be, giving an opportunity for Singaporeans to reflect on their history and learn about what shaped Singapore before and after that turning point in 1819, to the nation that it is today.

Highlights include light projections on the facades of historic buildings such as Shaw Tower, the Old Hill Street Police Station and the National Library Board building at Victoria Street.

Organised by the Singapore Bicentennial Office, the light projections reveal stories of Singapore's history.

This year, NHB has also commissioned three immersive theatre performances. For instance, the public can hop on a bus and watch actors on board tell stories of the 1970s, a time when life was simpler, in a show called Buses and Roads: A Bus Theatre Experience.

The experience costs $10 per person and the one-hour journey begins and ends at the National Museum. The show runs on the last three weekends of March and the first weekend of April.

In Bedok, a free musical on hawker culture in Singapore called Makan Dreaming will take centrestage at its town square on March 22 to 24.

In Telok Blangah, Heritage Fest participants can sign up for a theatre experience set in a black-and-white colonial bungalow at 18 Temenggong Road.

There, actors playing characters such as a gardener and governess will share stories about the beginnings of Telok Blangah, Temenggong Road, Mount Faber and the history of black-and- white bungalows.

Another focus of activities in Telok Blangah is the area's maritime history, where the board will trace the area's transformation from a small fishing village to one of the busiest ports in the world.

The festival's closing weekend focuses on the rural bliss of Kranji's rich natural heritage, and its farming community.

Members of the public can also look out for tours of former hospitals in partnership with the Singapore Land Authority and heritage blogger Jerome Lim.

The places include the former View Road mental hospital, a branch of the Woodbridge Hospital, and the former St Andrew's Mission Hospital, which was designed by Harry Robinson of colonial architecture firm Swan & Maclaren.

Online registration for ticketed activities starts at noon on Tuesday. Go to www.heritagefestival.sg for more information.