Back to school at Armenian Street

10 03 2017

Detention class, tuck shop, science lab, literature class and PE – names that evoke an instant recall of the best (or worst) days of our lives – will haunt Armenian Street this weekend when just like the good old days, scores of kids dressed in school uniforms that probably no longer fit, make a return to the area for the Armenian Street Party.

The former Tao Nan School – now Peranakan Museum, in party colours.

Put together by the Peranakan Museum, which is itself housed in a former school building,  the party being held this Friday and Saturday evening, offers lots of opportunities, especially for those of my generation, to feel that youthful vibe of one’s schooldays. If being naughty and ending up in The Substation’s Detention (an interactive space that celebrates creativity and playfulness) isn’t for you, there are lots of other things to do including showcasing one’s talents on stage through the Timbre Group’s Open Mic Night to relive the glitzy days of Talentime, tucking into some delectable and quite un-school canteen like treats brought the Tuckshop by True Blue Cuisine, and take part in Upside Motion’s Xtend the Night PE lessons – for which sign-ups ( are required at http://asp-xtendthenight-80s.peatix.com/ (Fri) and http://asp-xtendthenight-90s.peatix.com/ (Sat).

More information on the party and how to have fun at it can be found at the Peranakan Museum‘s and Singapore Philatelic Museum‘s websites.

Detention Class by The Substation (Friday and Saturday, 10 and 11 March 2017 7.30pm – 11pm).

Glee Club by Sing’theatre Academy (Friday, 10 March 2017 6.45pm, 7.45pm and 8.45pm).

Old School Swinging by Act 3 International (Friday, 10 March 2017, at 6pm and Saturday, 11 March 2017, at 6pm and 8pm).

 

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Nights out during the ghost month

19 08 2016

If you are not being kept indoors by what traditionally is a time of the year during which one hesitates to venture out into the dark, you should take a pause this and next weekend from trying to catch’em all to catch this year’s edition of the Singapore Night Festival. This year’s festival, revolves around the spirit of innovation with its theme of Inventions and Innovation and will be an enlightening experience with light installations and performances inspired by fantasy, and science fiction as it is be invention.

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As with recent editions of the much anticipated festival, this year’s, the ninth, is laid out across five zones, each packed with installations and performances that will certainly light up one’s weekend. Besdies those I  had a chance to have a peek at listed below, there are several rather interesting installations, performances and goings-on during the nights of the festival. Installations and performances to look out for include: Invasion by Close-Act (Netherlands)A Kaleidoscope of Spring by NAFA (Singapore)The Story Box by A Dandypunk (US)Les AquamenS by Machtiern Company (France)Into Pulsar by Ryf Zaini (Singapore), and The Peranakan Museum Variety Show by Main Wayang (Singapore).

Members of Main Wayang.

Members of Main Wayang.

Once again, a party atmosphere will descend on Armenian Street, the difference being that the roar of Harleys will be heard with Rrready to Rrrumble! by Harley Davidson Singapore, Mod Squad and Speedzone (Singapore) – recalling perhaps the roar of the hell riders who once tore down nearby Orchard Road and Penang Road.

There are also no shortage of opportunities to indulge in food and even shopping with Eat @ Festival Village and Shop @ Festival Village. The offerings by Steamhaus (Halal) and The Ugly Duckling, which I had a chance to savour, are particularly yummy. For those who like it sweet, sinful and frozen, do look out for Husk Frozen Coconut.

For the brave, there also is a Night Heritage Tour by National Parks Board. Registration is required for this. As of the time of writing, tours for the first weekend are booked up and only slots for 26 August are available. Along with these, there are also items being put up by the partners of the Bars Basah Bugis precinct such as PoMo, Prinsep Street and Rendezvouse Hotel, including a free Movie Nights at Rendezvous Hotel. There will also be a chance to go behind the scenes with some of the artists and participate in workshops  in Behind the Night.

The festival runs over two weekends on 19 and 20 August and on 26 and 27 August 2016. More information on the festival and programmes on offer can be found at at festival’s website.


JOURNEY, Feat soundtrack by Ed Carter  | NOVAK (United Kingdom)

Front Lawn, Singapore Art Museum
19, 20, 26, 27 August 2016, 7.30pm – 2am | 21 – 25 August 2016, 7.30pm – 11pm

Journey by NOVAK, which is inspired by the world of Jules Verne.

Journey by NOVAK, which is inspired by the world of Jules Verne.

A dynamic projection-mapping performance inspired by the world of Victorian novelist Jules Verne, known for his creation of a world reflecting the future of Victorian invention and fantasy. NOVAK reinterprets seven of his novels to create a unique adventure dynamically projection-mapped to fit the façade of SAM, including an exploration of Singapore’s art and culture. Highlighting the use of invention to enable adventure, the viewer will be taken on a magical adventure through a series of scenes, each depicting a different landscape, relating to the environments that feature so vividly in Verne’s classic novels.

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The Wheel House | Acrojou (United Kingdom)

Mainground (near National Museum of Singapore)
19 and 20 August 2016 | 8pm – 8.25pm, 9.25pm – 9.50pm, 10.50pm – 11.15pm

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A “tender, post-apocalyptic love story”, The Wheel House is a unique, rolling acrobatic theatre show, which unfolds inside and around a stunning circular home as it travels with the audience walking alongside. The enchanting story is set in a gently comic dystopian future at a time where survival depends on sharp eyes, quick hands and, above all, friendship. Join these traveller-gatherers on the road to nowhere: treading lightly, enduring quietly and always moving onwards.


KEYFRAMES | Groupe LAPS (France)

National Museum of Singapore Façade
19, 20, 26, 27 August 2016, 7.30pm – 2am | 21 – 25 August 2016, 7.30pm – 11pm

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Through micro-stories weaved upon the stately National Museum of Singapore facade, KEYFRAMES offers narration in the city – urban stories where bodies and their movements play main roles. Part animation and part moving sculpture, the LED figures and their routine imbue static buildings with energy and excitement. This new installation – part of the KEYFRAMES series – brings glimmers of the past to life.


HOUSE OF CURIOSITIES | Sweet Tooth by CAKE (Singapore)

(Ticketed Performance)

Cathay Green (field opposite The Cathay)
19, 20, 26, 27 August 2016 | 6pm – 8pm, 8.30pm – 10.30pm, 11pm – 1am

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Tickets are available for purchase from 27 July onwards via SISTIC or at the door (while stocks last)
Adults: $16 (inclusive of $1 SISTIC fee) | Concession: $13 (inclusive of $1 SISTIC fee) Students (full time, with valid student pass issued by enrolled institution), senior citizen (60yrs and above, with valid identity pass showing proof of age), NSF (with valid 11B pass)

The House of Curiosities is an event featuring performance, activities and more. Based on the storyline of The Mechanical Heart, it is a story of adventure, curious man-made machines and the wonderful capacity of the human mind and spirit to discover and invent. Professor Chambers is a celebrated explorer and inventor. With his son Christopher, he builds a time machine that takes them on an expedition to find crystal caves in the subterranean depths. On the journey back, a monstrous octopus attacks them, injures Christopher and escapes. The devious octopus is a man-made contraption, but who is behind it? Find out in this exhilarating performance.


:Samara | Max Pagel & Jonathan Hwang

Armenian Church
19, 20, 26 and 27 August 2016, 7.30pm – 2am | 21 – 25 August 2016, 7.30pm – 11pm


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:Samara reflects on the duality of progress and sacrifice. What are we willing to give up in order to advance? Sometimes we regret accepting the cost of progress and try to recreate past experiences that have been lost forever. Inspired by the loss of the artist’s favourite tree, :Samara is an interactive illuminated tree sculpture created to give closure to a lost space. :Samara invites us to reflect on the authenticity of using modern technology to recreate what we lose in our fast-changing environment. At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and let go of these losses.

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The tree, lost to development at Paya Lebar Central, that inspired :Samara. 


Shifting Interactions | LASALLE College of the Arts

Glass Atrium, Level 2, National Museum of Singapore
7.30pm – 2am (dance performance at 8pm – 11pm) 21 – 25 August 2016 | 7.30pm – 10pm

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Tying together electronic media, sculpture and dance, LASALLE College of the Arts presents Shifting Interactions, a performance installation. Dancers will traverse a dynamic performance space dotted with a series of static and animated objects. Conceptualised as a durational and improvised performance piece, participants will shape, change and vitalise the space over time through sound, light and movement.


Singapore Night Festival 2016 ‘Tap to Donate’ | Xylvie Huang (Singapore)

Platform, Level 2, National Museum of Singapore
19, 20, 26, 27 August 2016 | 7pm – 12.30am 21 – 25 August 2016 | 7pm to 10pm

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The Singapore Night Festival is turning ten next year and we would like you to join us in “building” the 10th Singapore Night Festival!

Come by the National Museum at level 2 from 19 to 27 August 2016, make a donation of $2 by tapping your ez-link card and you will be given a LEGO brick to add on to a wall installation of LEGO Bricks by Singapore artist Xylvie Huang. All donations go towards “building” the Singapore Night Festival 2017.

Help build our Singapore Night Festival LEGO Wall Installation (located on Level 2 of the National Museum of Singapore) with four easy steps:

1. Tap your ez-link Card

2. Collect your LEGO brick

3. Build on the wall installation of LEGO Bricks

4. Collect your Candylious candy and watch the wall being built

The first 250 festivalgoers who ‘tap to donate’, gets a generic designed ez-link card (of no loaded value)!

This programme is supported by Ms Xylvie Huang Xinying, Brick Artist, EZ-Link, Wirecard and Candylicious.






Playing with fire

22 08 2013

Photographs taken at last evening’s media preview of the Singapore Night Festival of a performance, Redux, by Starlight Alchemy – one of the highlights of the annual festival which be held over two weekends in the Bras Basah precinct this year which will see a nocturnal extravaganza of performances over four days.

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Describing themselves as “a constellation of international artists orbiting around Singapore that manipulate light, fire and skill toys to bring a sense of wonder to the performing arts” it was indeed with much wonder that a sneak peek of their performance – set against the façade of the National Museum, Redux, was greeted last evening.  Their performances will take place during the first weekend on 23 and 24 August 2013 at 8.45 pm, 10 pm and 11.15 pm. The last performance of each night will allow some interactivity with a free jam-and-play session at the end during which visitors will get to play with LED manipulation tools the group will use in their performances along with fire.

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Interactivity will be a feature of this year’s edition of the festival – the Night Lights segment of it will see several projections which will permit interaction.  The festival also promises to be bigger and better with the participation of an increased number of stakeholders and partners from the area – more than twice that of 2012. It will also see the addition of several more venues stretching from Plaza Singapura to Raffles City. New venues this year include the two malls mentioned, as well CHIJMES, 222 Queen Street and Sculpture Square. This year will also see lots of food on offer with Hawker Food Alley set up at the alleyway between The Substation and Armenian Street and So Sedap at the SMRT Walkway along Stamford Road.

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Re-branded from “Night Festival” to the “Singapore Night Festival” to reflect it being a platform to highlight and showcase local talents, this year’s festival runs over two weekends on the evenings of 23 and 24 August 2013 and 30 and 31 August 2013. There is also late night free admission to the participating museums to look out for during the festival. These museums are the National Museum of Singapore, the Peranakan Museum, and the Singapore Art Museum and will be on the festival nights from 7 pm to 2 am.  Do stay tuned for more festival highlights see at the preview for the first weekend. More information on the Singapore Night Festival can be obtained from the festival’s website.

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Information on Singapore Night Festival






Revisiting the Ramayana

26 03 2010

My introduction to the Ramayana was a brief and uninformed one all those years back when as a five-year old child being cared for by my maternal grandmother I would sit with her through whatever kept her amused her on the television set. Besides the doses of P. Ramlee and Pontianak movies which seemed to be regular features on the few television stations that existed back then. Another programme that would keep her entertained was the Kelantanese shadow puppet play which was based on the tales passed down through the generations based on stories from the Ramayana. It was only later perhaps, when an introduction to the history of Singapore as a primary school student, in which emphasis was placed on the races and religions of Singapore, and in secondary school, where the history of India was taught, that I developed a deeper appreciation for the Ramayana.

Shadow puppets on display at the Peranakan Museum.

The Ramayana as most of us would know, is an epic tale revolving around the universal theme of the triumph of good over evil, that has its roots in Hinduism, which has spread in various forms and interpretations throughout much of Asia. The storyline in itself, revolving around the central characters of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata and the monkey god Hanuman who participate in a struggle against Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, which includes stories of love and conquest, is fascinating enough to keep the audiences enthralled. The message brought by the epic tale has served as a powerful means to impart values onto the societies that have embraced Hinduism and Buddhism at some point in their history, and the tales have kept generations of young and old captivated both through the creative means by which the story is related throughout Asia, puppetry and other forms of live performances being commonly used as a means.

Shadow puppets on display. Shadow puppets are made of cow or buffalo hide.

Travelling through much of South-East Asia, one would come across the many forms – masks and puppets being seen throughout much of Indonesia, where the art was thought to have originated from, and Indochina, where it is believed to have taken root since early Angkorian times. This is still seen in Cambodia where the Sbeik Thom shadow puppet play depicts scenes from the Ramayana, and Sbeik Touch, is used to depict plays on daily village life.

Shadow puppetry as seen in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is believed that the artform, originating from Indonesia, had existed in Cambodia since early Angkorian times.

Live performances of the Ramayana take place throughout South-East Asia in many forms. Masks and costumes are also used in live plays as seen a a theatre in Siem Reap.

Mask Detail: An exhibit at the Ramayana Revisited Exhibition.

In Thailand, the version of the Ramayana told there, the Ramakien has become an important component of the Siamese culture and is in fact the national epic, is performed in many ways, through dance and other forms of theatre, including puppetry and Nang – one of the first methods used for the performance of the Ramakien. Nang is the Siamese version of shadow puppetry adopted by the Thais, and would have its roots in the Indonesian and Angkor versions. The Ramakien has, along with the traditional cast of characters from the Ramayana, also some of its own, including Maiyarap, the Lord of the Underworld, who features prominently in the rather interesting form of puppet play that is performed by the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre. Various scenes from the Ramakien are enacted daily at a theatre at the Suan Lum area near Lumpini Park in Bangkok. In this, more than one puppeteer manipulates the puppet, standing behind it. The puppeteers are visible to the audience and actually mimic the movement of the puppets throughout the show.

A puppeteer at the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre in Bangkok showing a smaller version of the puppets used at the theatre.

The shadow puppet play, which in this part of the world, Wayang Kulit, that I sat through with my grandmother all those years back is possible the first means by which the story was related in much of South-East Asia, having its origins in the Javanese form that pre-dates the arrival of Hinduism in South-East Asia. In this, puppets made of cow or buffalo hide are used to cast shadows on a white sheet, with the movements and voices of the characters controlled by a master puppeteer, known as the Tok Dalang, accompanied by the captivating music of the Gamelan, used to depict scenes from both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This was a thriving art form in what is now a muslim Indonesia and Malaysia, despite the Hindu origins of the stories. Much of it has been adapted using the characters from the stories such as Sri Rama and Sita Dewi, and in some versions there is a bit of comic amusement introduced by the characters of court jesters, Pak Dogol and Wak Long.

Kelantanese shadow puppets on display at the Ramayana Revisited exhibition at the Peranakan Museum.

Casting a bright shadow ... shadow puppetry is a simple form of theatre that has kept generations entertained throughout much of South-East Asia.

A scene from Wayang Kulit Siam - a display at the Ramayana Revisited exhibition.

Wayang Kulit has always fascinated me since that early introduction by my grandmother, who having come from the island of Java, had herself been fascinated with the tales of the Ramayana in the form of the dancing shadows, since her childhood. The fascination is one that has also been fed perhaps by my father, who as a scout master, tried his hand at his own version of shadow puppet play using cardboard cut-outs, a kerosene lamp and a white bed sheet, as campfire entertainment. With the Ramayana Revisited exhibition on at the Peranakan Museum in Singapore, which along with the various depictions of the tale from the India, also has displays associated with the many forms that have taken root in South-East Asia, I was glad to have been reminded of this fascination I have had with both the Ramayana and Wayang Kulit, as well as with bringing those wonderful memories of sitting beside my grandmother all those years ago as a five-year old boy back to me.








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