If Chinese New Year songs blasting from supermarkets and malls islandwide are doing the opposite of making you feel celebratory, we recommend other ways to make your spirit blossom.
M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2014
If you think musicals are too mainstream for you, then check out this annual festival that celebrates cutting-edge and contemporary international art and theatre that always touches on social issues.
For the 10th-anniversary run this year from 8 to 19 January, all works in the line-up revolve around the theme of art and people, how art is often inspired by human suffering and as a means of change and healing.
‘Majulah Singapura – Tree Project’
Don’t miss ‘Zeitgeiber’, a play about the severely disabled that will put you in the skin of its subjects. In each performance, one audience member will step into the world of the severely disabled for a moment, by playing the role of the handicapped Mr Fujii, who can only communicate with his caregiver using eye movements.
Or take in the free ‘Majulah Singapura – Tree Project’, an installation at the National Museum of Singapore that features exhibits that are very much alive despite the odds – seedlings from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Japan’s Hiroshima. They are known as Hibaku trees.
Artist Hiroshi Sunairi distributed seeds to various Singaporeans to plant, and they join participants of this ‘Tree Project’ all over the world in remembrance of the catastrophes of World War II.
‘Zeitgeiber’ | Date: 17 & 18 January 2014 | Time: 8pm | Venue: Gallery Theatre, National Museum of Singapore basement, 93 Stamford Road | Tickets: $19 from Sistic
‘Majulah Singapura – Tree Project’ | Date: Now till 19 January 2014 | Time: 10am-8pm | Venue: The Concourse, Level 1, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road | Admission is free
'Horrible Histories- Awful Egyptians'
This festival targeting a young audience aged three to teens offers a selection of theatrical imports from the UK. All are fabulous and funny, with astronomical production values to rivet even adults. They include acclaimed adaptations of classic children's novels, so if your youngster isn't big on reading yet, this is a good way to get them hooked.
Of note is the popular ‘Horrible Histories’ book/play series featuring ‘Terrible Tudors’ and ‘Awful Egyptians’, which have been adapted into BBC productions. Gloriously gruesome historical facts are presented in memorable ways to get your child to pay attention to the lessons of the “nasty bits” of history.
‘Horrible Histories: Awful Egyptians’
Date: 31 January & 2 February 2014 | Time: 5pm, 7.15pm (31 Jan); 3pm, 5pm (2 Feb) | Venue: Drama Centre, National Library Building, Level 5, 100 Victoria Street | Tickets at $35-$62 from Sistic
Date: 8 February 2014 | Time: 3pm, 5pm | Venue: DBS Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Road | Tickets at $42-$62 from Sistic
‘Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors’
Date: 1 February 2014 | Time: 3pm, 5pm, 7.15pm | Venue: Drama Centre | Tickets at $35-$62 from Sistic
Date: 7 & 9 February 2014 | Time: 5pm, 7.15pm (7 Feb); 3pm, 5pm (9 Feb) | Venue: DBS Arts Centre | Tickets at $42-$62 from Sistic
'A Dream Like A Dream'
This annual Chinese theatre festival pulls together the best Mandarin music, performances and even craft offerings from the Chinese diaspora all over the world. Tired of the dong-dong-chiang’s? Not to worry, while Huayi has plenty of quality, quintessentially Chinese acts, its offerings are often surprising takes on the culture.
Check out ‘New Spins – East Meets Jazz’, and watch Taiwanese band Sizhukong use traditional Chinese instruments to play western jazz numbers to incredible effect. Their music is one explosive fusion reaction you don't want to miss.
‘New Spins – East Meets Jazz’ | Date: 15 February 2014 | Time: 7.30pm | Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio, Level 2, Esplanade Mall, 1 Esplande Drive | Tickets at $35 from Sistic
‘A Dream Like a Dream’
This critically acclaimed epic of a play captivated audiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China and is performed by established artistes from Taiwan and China. It spans different continents and eras and the entire show lasts – get this – eight hours.
Normal theatre seating is available, but a select group of the audience may also watch the action while perched on a “Lotus Pond”, a two-storey-high stage that gives a 360-degree view. If you want to book that seat, better ask about toilet breaks.
Date: 6-9 February 2014 | Time: 1.30pm | Venue: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive | Tickets at $48-$148 from Sistic
Aliwal Urban Art Festival
Aliwal Urban Art Festival
Soak in the grit of Singapore's subculture at Aliwal Arts Centre, a new, multidisciplinary arts centre housing Singapore's sexiest artists and companies, including Ho Tzu Nyen, RSCLS, and Nine Years Theatre.
For one night only, go experience the centre's inaugural urban art festival featuring homegrown rock, rap, reggae, bass, funk and street art. One of the highlights will be performances by Masia One, a smouldering, VMA-award-winning hip-hop artist, as well as O$P$, musicians who pioneered the ‘Geylang Crunk’ and scored airtime with songs such as ‘Chin Swee Sunset’.
Date: 18 February 2014 | Time: 5pm-midnight | Venue: Aliwal Arts Centre, 28 Aliwal Street | Admission is free