Did you know that the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) began as just the Singapore Festival of Arts in 1977? Since then, it has evolved to showcase both Singaporean and international works of theatre in Singapore – hence the name change! SIFA 2022 is no exception. In the lead up to this year’s instalment (20 May to 5 June) of the annual performing arts and film festival, we look at what’s new, get recommendations from the festival director, and let you know an early bird promo on tickets!
#1 New festival concept and focus
SIFA 2022 introduces a new curatorial arc titled The Anatomy of Performance, which will span three years. This festival concept will focus on different aspects of a performance each year.
Kicking off the concept this year is the focus on Ritual – that is, ritual in narratives and perspectives of performances. As an audience member viewing a performance, you’re invited to consider shared social rituals such as the conditions of time (duration), artefacts (costume or clothing, symbolic objects, installations) and gestures (expressive movement, stillness).
#2 New physical and virtual venues
The need to adapt over the past two years means that SIFA has had to embrace digital platforms and discover new ways of creating in-person performing art experiences for both local and international audiences. The result is multi layered creations that are presented in both physical and online spaces.
Creation is a platform for SIFA’s prime offerings encompassing new commissions as well as fresh iterations of works by local and international artists in the physical and online space.
Life Profusion is SIFA’s virtual stage that runs parallel to the live festival. The exclusive content for SIFA 2022 falls into five unique categories: +DREAM, +EAT, +READ, +GROW, +DISCUSS. Among the performing arts highlights of Life Profusion are the world premiere of Delicate Spells of Mind, the performance film of Lucy McRae, a world-renowned science fiction artist, filmmaker, inventor and body architect.
SIFA X presents more diverse and eclectic performances at Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre. This inaugural edition is helmed by SATheCollective’s artistic director, Andy Chia.
#3 New festival director
SIFA 2022 marks the start of a three-year tenure of Natalie Hennedige as Festival Director. She’s the artistic director of Cake, a contemporary performance company known for progressive works that bring together a range of performance disciplines with theatre. She’s also a recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award 2007 and the JCCI Singapore Foundation Culture Award 2010.
We ask Natalie for her SIFA 2022 recommendations
For those who are new to SIFA:
Devil’s Cherry by Kaylene Tan & Paul Rae (Singapore/Australia) at Pasir Panjang Power Station
This is a compelling and mysterious story about the beauty and trials of a married Singaporean couple in Australia. The cavernous steel and concrete space of Pasir Panjang Power Station becomes the landscape upon which the characters traverse as they express their humanity through Paul and Kaylene’s signature playful and powerful performance style.
Ceremonial Enactments by MAX.TAN (Singapore), Nadi Singapura (Singapore) and Bhaskar’s Arts Academy (Singapore) at the Esplanade Theatre
Learn about the rituals relating to birth, marriage union and cleansing ceremonies that arise from Singapore’s varied cultures and communities through this seamless performance woven from three festival commissions. Some audience seating is built on the stage of the Esplanade Theatre; so, depending on where you’re seated, you get a special perspective of the performance. Designed by local architect Randy Chan, the concept is drawn from outdoor festivals where there is the thrill of moving freely and watching the performance from where you want.
ubin by Drama Box at Pulau Ubin
The island becomes the stage and setting for stories to unfold. This site-specific, socially engaged and interactive theatre production is a specially designed walking tour peppered with performance and stories about the island’s history and inhabitants. It paints a vivid picture of the island’s history in relation to high octane cosmopolitan Singapore, inspiring the audience to imagine and value the beauty of a more idyllic way of life that’s sensitive to nature and cares for waning communities.
For those who love theatre performances:
Bangsawan Gemala Malam by Teatre Ekamatra (Singapore) at Victoria Theatre
This one’s for Shakespeare lovers! A Midsummer Night’s Dream becomes Bangsawan Gemala Malam. Bangsawan is a traditional art form that draws inspiration from the richness of the Malay Archipelago. Expect lots of song, dance and laughter wrapped up in the twists, turns, jealousies and magic of love.
For those who enjoy a good conversation after:
project SALOME by Ong Keng Sen/T:>Works (Singapore) at Victoria Theatre
The character of Salome from English playwright Oscar Wilde’s 1892 renowned play is a larger-than-life figure who has horrified and fascinated many. Acclaimed Singapore director Ong Keng Sen asks who Salome is in our contemporary times; who are those who attempt to transform their position of no power into power?
Remotes x Quantum by John Torres (Philippines) and Eleanor Wong (Singapore) at The Arts House
Lauded playwright Eleanor Wong and filmmaker John Torres collaborate on a gripping multi-disciplinary performing arts work, reimagining life in Singapore and the Philippines on the brink of a dystopian world order; it takes place across various venues in The Arts House.
Natalie’s personal pick of SIFA 2022
“I don’t mean to be predictable and say all of them. But a festival director’s role is to be involved in conversations with the artists from the nascent stages of their creations to the exciting developments and rigorous rehearsal process and progress. So I say with sincerity that each is potentially a beautiful work of art. As commissions, these works would be world premieres at SIFA 2022, birthed at the time of the festival. It’s a thrill to witness and be part of this as an audience in Singapore’s pinnacle performing arts festival.”
Get your early bird promo tickets for SIFA 2022
Until 10 April, tickets for Singapore International Festival of Arts 2022 are available at 20% off, from sifa.sg.
Performances will be held at various venues including:
- Aliwal Arts Centre
- Esplanade Theatres on the Bay
- Goodman Arts Centre
- Pasir Panjang Power Station
- The Arts House
- Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall
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