Back for its 42nd edition, the annual Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) is returning stronger than ever with an exciting lineup of local and international acts (some specially commissioned for the festival). Taking place from 16 May to 12 June, be prepared for a fortnight-long appreciation of music, dance, technology and more. From cross-cultural classics to moving images and virtual reality, here are our top picks to look out for.
Under the masterful hand of Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki and highlighting a huge cast of actors from Indonesia, Japan and China, this retelling of Euripides’ Greek tragedy The Bacchae will open the festival with a bang on 17 and 18 May. Featuring costumes by Indonesian designer Auguste Soesastro and Tadashi Suzuki himself as well as a musical score with Indonesian instruments by composer Takada Midori, Dionysus is sure to awe with intense storytelling and captivating visuals.
Dionysus will be showing on 17 and 18 May at the Victoria Theatre, tickets from $40.
#2 100 Keyboards
Both an exhibition and a music performance, sound artist ASUNA will be presenting 100 Keyboards in Singapore for the first time. 100 battery-operated analogue keyboards will be on display during the day; come nightfall, the avant-garde musician will experiment with sound waves to create tunes from hip-hop and lo-fi pop to ambient noises and overlapping textures. The sounds differ depending on where you’re seated, so be sure to keep your ears peeled.
100 Keyboards exhibition will take place from 16 to 19 May at Gallery II, Festival House (The Arts House), admission is free. 100 Keyboards performance will be showing from 17 to 20 May at Gallery II, Festival House (The Arts House), tickets from $20.
#3 The Mysterious Lai Teck
As short as Singapore’s history is, a number of shadowy figures never quite made it into our textbooks. One of them is Lai Teck, remembered as the leader of the Malayan Communist Party from 1939 to 1947 and a triple agent of the Fresh, British and Japanese, whose dark tale will be explored in The Mysterious Lai Teck. Performed by acclaimed Singapore artist Ho Tzu Nyen and commissioned by SIFA, travel back to wartime Southeast Asia through innovative staging using visual projections, theatrical drapes and an animatronic puppet to discover one man’s enigmatic story.
The Mysterious Lai Teck will be showing from 17 to 19 May at SOTA Drama Theatre, tickets from $40.
#4 Peter and The Wolf
Peter and the Wolf is a timeless classic, but seeing it come to life in the form of videography and puppets will definitely be a treat for many. The beloved whimsical tale will be told to crowds young and old through the efforts of a six-piece band, live animation, puppetry and a local narrator. Adapted by Sophie Roberts of New Zealand’s Silo Theatre, join Peter as he goes on a quest to capture an escaped wolf while discovering a new magical world.
Peter and the Wolf will be showing on 18 to 20 May at the KC Arts Centre Home of SRT, tickets from $30.
What happens when the past catches up to you? Utilising both theatre and virtual reality, Frogman is a murder mystery and supernatural thriller all in one, where the story jumps back and forth between two timelines in an attempt to rescue a missing girl. Participants will don a VR headset that immerses them into the gripping narrative, granting them a multi-sensory experience that is definitely worth the dollars.
Frogman will be showing from 21 to 26 May at SOTA Studio Theatre, tickets from $40.
In an intriguing mix of performance and installation, Japanese artist Shiro Takatani’s ST/LL will be gracing the SIFA stage after successful showings in Europa, Tokyo and Taiwan. Melding lighting, media art, stage design and dance movement into one breathtaking piece, this beautiful performance is further enhanced by the music score, composed by Oscar-winning songsmith Ryuichi Sakamoto.
ST/LL will be showing on 24 and 25 May at Esplanade Theatre, tickets from $40.
#7 Bill Frisell Trio
He has over 40 years of musical experience as well as a Grammy award under his belt, but there is still no telling how each show of Bill Frisell’s will go down with his penchant for freestyle and improvisation. Joined by drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Thomas Morgan – two of the most in-demand acts in the jazz world – get ready to be awed by some of Bill’s most iconic compositions in this one-night-only performance.
Bill Frisell Trio will be showing on 29 May at Victoria Theatre, tickets from $50.
Music is often an escape from reality, and the essence of that is depicted in Crowd, a dance and theatre piece inspired by the techno rave scene of 1990s Berlin. Choreographed and directed by Gisèle Vienne, 15 dancers explore their inner selves by drawing out alternative dreamscapes, distortions and realities to the beat of electronic dance music – a hypnotic performance and visual feast not to be missed!
Crowd will be showing on 1 and 2 June at Victoria Theatre, tickets from $40.
The full SIFA 2019 programme lineup can be found on their website. Catch the full trailer for the festival here!
Will you be catching any of the shows from SIFA? Let us know in the comments below!