Theatre veteran Adrian Pang to direct NDP 2022 show segment

(From left) NDP show committee chairman Mikail Kalimuddin, show film director Ken Kwek and creative director Adrian Pang. PHOTO: MINDEF
More than 2,000 performers have been rehearsing over the last few months for the spectacle. PHOTO: MINDEF
Over 1,300 young people are also involved, marking this one of the years with the largest youth participation in NDP history. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - The show segment of this year's National Day Parade is directed by veteran actor Adrian Pang, whose creation will take viewers on a journey through the last two years of Covid-19 and celebrate Singapore's emergence from the public health crisis.

Pang, 56, who is the co-founder of local theatre company Pangdemonium, will bring his theatre chops to direct The Story Of Us. The show is expected to play to a live audience of about 25,000 to 26,000 people at the Marina Bay floating platform, while being live-streamed to the television screens of millions of others.

More than 2,000 performers have been rehearsing over the last few months for the spectacle.

Over 1,300 young people, including make-up artists and audience motivators, are also involved, marking this one of the years with the largest youth participation in recent NDP history.

Pang, who is directing the NDP show for the first time, said on Wednesday (June 29) that he was a bit of a "wild card" as creative director due to his independent streak, although the experience had been "a barrel of laughs, in the best way possible".

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The challenge this year was to celebrate Singapore's birthday in a way that acknowledges the hardship of the last two years, while still illuminating the future with a sense of hope and optimism, he said.

Calling the show a reflection of the country's journey and an "appreciation of what we still have", Pang added: "As artistic director of Pangdemonium, I've always felt that meaningful theatre is not only entertaining but also enlightening and enlivening; it is stimulating and makes people think, feel, talk and reflect upon their lives. I've tried to create a show for the nation that embraces all these things.

"The challenge was to make sure that all Singaporeans are represented and spoken to. You cannot please everyone. You just have to create something that you hope resonates in some small way with as many people as possible."

NDP show committee chairman Mikail Kalimuddin said the committee chose Pang for precisely those reasons.

"The work that Pangdemonium puts up is of such high quality, there was no doubt the work (in the NDP show) was going to be good. But more importantly, the kind of productions his company stages appeal to a wide spectrum of Singaporeans and deal with issues that matter to them. That's exactly what I'm trying to do with this year's show."

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Adrian Pang, creative director of this year's NDP show, has one wish for Singapore. And it's a good one. #NDP2022 #StrongerTogether #SGNews

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The Story Of Us has five segments and kicks off with the vision of a population thriving in a world of contentment, stability and safety before life as they know it is upended by the pandemic.

Interspersed between the various segments is a 15-minute film directed by local author, screenwriter and playwright Ken Kwek, which follows a large cast of characters supporting one another throughout the ever-evolving Covid-19 restrictions and virus waves.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Kwek said his film complements the spectacle of the live show by drawing focus to intimate moments in a way that the large-scale event is unable to, focusing on people who are not "pioneers, exceptional heroes or Olympians", but neighbours and others the members of the audience meet every day.

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NDP 2022 will be hosted by radio presenters Joakim Gomez and Sonia Chew, theatre actress Siti Khalijah, and comedian Rishi Budhrani. It will feature celebrities like DJ Tinc, singer Aisyah Aziz, and hip-hop artist Shigga Shay.

Asked about potential alternative plans for the show should the Covid-19 situation change, Colonel Mikail did not answer. He added, however, that the ultimate Covid-19 resilient celebration would be one where there was no one at the floating platform, but that “upon deeper reflection, really the essence of NDP is Singaporeans’ participation”.

“It was very important to bring back as many people as possible to be part of the show, as the situation allows. I’m very happy that we are putting on a show that is of a bigger scale and has larger participation than the last few years have allowed,” he said.

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