Preview Guide

Poetry in artistry: Singapore Arts Festival 2012

By Patrick BenjaminEvents - 17 April 2012 9:48 AM | Updated 10:21 AM

Poetry in artistry: Singapore Arts Festival 2012

Clockwise from top left:' 兰芳记 Lan Fang Chronicles 2012', 'End of the Road', 'Dance on Camera-Alam & Ena', 'The Best Sex I've Ever Had' & 'Ciudades Paralelas(Parallel Cities)'

Wave goodbye to the bloated, esoteric line-up in last year’s edition of the Singapore Arts Festival, which was panned for its’ poor publicity campaigns and paltry attendance. This year’s theme “Our Lost Poems”, focuses on stories and myths in the community and is the final installment of a trilogy that is connected to “Between You and Me” (2010) and “I Want To Remember” (2011).

Happening from 18 May to 2 June, the programming comprises 66 free productions spread out over the city as well as 14 ticketed shows, down from 36 in the previous year.

Sightings of mythical centaurs-half human, half-horse creatures prowling our streets, the stage adaptation of popular Japanese best-selling author Haruki Murakami’s seminal “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, experiential theater set in a factory, Wagnerian caper or an interactive 21st century play where vampires and humans battle it out in an apocalyptic universe. This is just a sample of the artsy offerings on hand this year.   

And then, there's the Festival Village. Located at Esplanade Park, the village will act as a meeting point for artists and arts lovers hosting free performances, film screenings as well as food and drink stalls. And there is a Kids Arts Village designed by children for children as well, which will feature a series of hands-on activities and performances tailored for children. 

Still clueless about what to catch, fret not. dishes out the lowdown on the hottest, not-to-be-missed shows at one of the biggest performance art events in our nation.

inSing picks:

Ciudades Paralelas(Parallel Cities)

When: 18 May to 2 June, various times

Where: Various locations

Admission: $25 to $36

If you are into experiential, intimate, one-on-one theater and ever wondered about the lives of chambermaids, a blind person on a rooftop and factory workers, here’s something for you. In this selection of three variations (Roof–Review, Hotel–Hotel Maids and Factory–La Fabrica: Repetition) that ruminate on the premise of re-interpreting common familiar places and lives that so often have been barely noticed. In this adventurous production, you are the only audience member in a tour of hotel, factory or rooftop, and you get to engage with people who work there. We warn you that there are more layers to what might seem mundane on the surface. Get your tickets now as quirky, interactive pieces, have been known to sell-out fast.


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Stephen Earnhart

When: 25 May, 8pm, 26 May, 3 & 8pm

Where: Esplanade Theatre

Admission: $20 to $110

It takes a courageous man to adapt the iconic eponymous novel by popular Japanese writer Haruki Murakami onto the stage. Helmed by multi-talented Stephen Earnhart(his impressive CV includes Head of Production at Miramax, a Saturday Night Live stint and directing David Byrne’s music videos), the obsessive, seven year preparatory work behind the play combines elements of puppetry, film and live music.  Hailed by critics in the west as visual feast, brace yourself for a surreal journey into the life of 30-year-old, unemployed legal clerk Toru Okada as he searches for his missing wife and pet cat in a twilight world populated by the likes of an old soldier and a prostitute of the mind. If you are only going to catch a single show in this year’s show, make sure this is the one(hopefully the Japanese author’s  rabid devotees haven’t snagged all the tickets in the house).  


Vertical Road by Akram Khan Company

When: 1 -2 June, 8pm

Where: Esplanade Theatre

Admission: $20 to $100

In this tasty collaboration between two superstars in the British arts scene; choreographer Akram Khan and composer Nitin Sawhney(boy, doesn’t he seem omnipresent in the festival’s recent history), we are treated to a contemporary dance performance probing into the deepest realms of humanity with meditations on heady concepts like time and Eastern spirituality. Performed by a multi-national pool of the brightest dancers from Khan’s dance company, this evocative piece is performed on dust-covered stage and borrows heavily from Butoh and Sufism.  

Singapore Arts Festival runs from 18 May to 2 June. Click here for listings on the various shows.