“Potong” By Teater Ekamatra: Of Kin And Skin

We’ve been seeing a variety of theatre revolving around dementia and its effects on families in Singapore over the past few years, such as Pangdemonium’s The Father, The Necessary Stage’s Don’t Forget To Remember Me, and Drama Box’s forum theatre shows The Wind Came Home and Exit. The symptoms, the effects, and the arcs of these stories may share similarities, but each loss is unique, each grief is different, and there is never a right or easy way to cope with losing a loved one. Potong by Teater Ekamatra is another story about the pain of forgetting. This tender...

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“Kumar50”: The Star of the Singapore Drag Scene

Marking Kumar’s 50th year alive, and the start of Dream Academy’s 2018 season at the Capitol Theatre, Kumar50 is a celebration, a retelling of history, but most of all, a show meant to entertain — Kumar is the undisputed queen, and star, of the Singapore drag scene. Kumar50 is also here to make some money: Dream Academy is, notably, one of the very few arts companies in Singapore that runs on a for-profit model. This is not, by far, the first time the two entities have worked together. Kumar50 is the fifth show (eighth if you include re-runs) headlining...

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Life Isn’t a Beach in “Einstein in the Carpark”

If the avant garde director Robert Wilson died and went to purgatory, Einstein in the Carpark is probably where he’d end up. Part performance, part installation, part misshapen creature stitched together from both forms, this piece by Liu Xiaoyi and his company Emergency Stairs occupies the entire B2-level carpark of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, the first site-specific piece to be commissioned for the arts centre’s Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts. Einstein in the Carpark is an explicit nod to Wilson’s groundbreaking “abstract opera” Einstein on the Beach, a 4½-hour piece featuring composer Philip Glass’ pulsating,...

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“Forked” Privilege Gets Served

Jo Tan’s playwriting debut offers a simple yet familiar story of one Singaporean girl with big dreams. In Forked, Ethel Yap plays Jeanette, a young aspiring actor who heads to London for drama school. Upon arrival in London, Jeanette gets the biggest culture shock of her life when she’s sidelined as one of the “Asian” kids. Determined to fit in, Jeanette tosses away any semblance of her Singaporean roots to put on a new “posh” accent to fit in, discovering a boyfriend, some hard truths and even herself along the way. Forked is filled with plenty of ideas, which will chime...

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Looking Within With “Attempts: Singapore”

Spoiler Alert: If you’re planning to experience the mystery and suspense of Attempts: Singapore, read only after you’ve attended the performance. “She is a terrorist, she is a cultist, she works for sex.” “Who is she?” Like a foggy recreation of a Black Mirror episode, Rei Poh’s Attempts: Singapore begins intriguingly with corporate conglomerate ARC reaching out to the audience for help. We are enrolled to assist in deciphering a databank that consists of fragmented memories of a mysterious woman named Anne, which have been found in ARC’s Artificial Intelligence system J.O.A.N. Inspired by Martin Crimp’s Attempts On Her Life, this promenade piece meshes a...

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A Look Back at the Asian Intercultural Conference 2017: Interview with T. Sasitharan

As part of the media partnership with Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI), culture360 has interviewed its director and co-founder T. Sasitharan on the results of the Asian Intercultural Conference organized last November in Singapore. How did the conference go? Did it meet your expectations in terms of participation and engagement? In my opinion, the Asian Intercultural Conference (AIC) 2017 was a resounding success. Given its specialized subject matter and themes (actor training, theatre-making, interculturalism and the globalization of the theatre production process) we were able to attract a wide and diverse spectrum of delegates and participants. Moreover, the quality of the presentations and, more importantly, the...

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“The Neighbor’s Grief is Greener”: A Dark Domesticity

A dreamy, perfect 1950’s housewife stands in the middle of a kitchen, cracking eggs and stirring flour into her bowl. But she isn’t making your regular American casserole; she’s cooking up a far bloodier dish. She dashes the pot on the ground, flooding the kitchen with blood. Emanuella Amichai’s tasty dance-theatre piece, The Neighbor’s Grief is Greener presents four archetypal 1950’s women practicing survival techniques in the face of the patriarchy. The women we see here are as vulnerable as plucked chickens; as sexually exploited as the women dominated by Trump in the infamous ‘Grab her by the pussy’ video. But can we...

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The Easy Trigger Of “Guilty Landscapes III”

Given that the publicity synopsis to Dries Verhoeven’s video installation pretty much tells all, I’m surprised by how excited I am by the time I’m finally summoned to enter the heavy white door. A lot of the theatricality in my experience of Guilty Landscapes III is in the anticipation of this show. I do a double take when I see that SIFA is programming a work for one audience member at a time. I can’t not be aware of the rarity and significance of this encounter in Singapore where arts funding is strongly driven by numbers. I reserve my...

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“Hanuman: The Superhero Monkey” Showcases Enchanting Music

This afternoon, we checked out The Little Company’s Hanuman: The Superhero Monkey, a multimedia musical based on the stories of Hanuman, the courageous and cheeky Hindu monkey-god. Created in collaboration with imitating the dog, a renowned U.K.-based theatre company, Hanuman: The Superhero Monkey is a part cartoon, part film, part musical, and part physical theatre, and features music by Soumik Datta, a British Indian composer. Although Hanuman: The Superhero Monkey draws inspiration from the events of the Ramayana—the abduction of Sita, the Battle of Lanka, etc.—it is not a faithful retelling of the epic. In this highly original production, Hanuman, who has a weakness for banana smoothies, is joined by a...

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Between Masculinity and Modernity: “Best Of (His Story)”

In 2013, award-winning actress Siti Khalijah Zainal brought Singapore’s company, The Necessary Stage’s Best Of to life, playing the role of a young Malay Muslim woman going through divorce.  Now, accomplished TV and stage actor Sani Hussin takes the stage as the husband to share his side of the story in Best Of (His Story), written by Haresh Sharma and directed by Alvin Tan. What happens when the estranged couple reunite at the Syariah court? What does he say to a wife seeking divorce? What can he say? Best of (His Story) is a monologue set on a crowded stage....

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