A year on since the Circuit Breaker, these Festival Commissions are returning to the SIFA 2021 stage.

See how they’ve evolved and grown… (you might be surprised!)

It’s official. It’s been a year since the Circuit Breaker froze Singaporean society and shut down our beloved theatres. However, despite the epic disruption to the arts scene that was 2020, our local theatre makers have kept calm and carried on. Now, they’re making their long-awaited comeback at SIFA 2021! Let’s take a trip down the memory lane to look at how our some of Festival Commissions have evolved during the pandemic (you might be surprised!)

The year 2020 was hailed by environmentalists as “The Year of No Return” – if the world doesn’t curb its carbon emissions by this date, the earth’s temperature would rise by two degrees Celsius, spelling serious trouble for the environment. With The Year of No Return returning to SIFA 2021, the artists took the time to further their research during the pandemic.

“We had to relook the responses to a crisis pertaining to the natural world during COVID-19, how that would actually reflect how we would also be dealing with climate change, which is a much bigger problem,” says Melissa Lim of The Necessary Stage, “How the pandemic has actually impacted the narrative of this play, I leave you to find out during the performance. I’m sure audiences will appreciate the research that was done as part of the production.”

Three Sisters, a transnational collaboration between Singapore’s Nine Years Theatre and New York-based SITI Company will now be presented in a slightly different format. The show will feature live actors in Singapore but have the New York cast join in via filmed projections. In a recent Straits Times interview video director and sound designer, Darron West, described the challenges of a hybrid format and virtual rehearsals as having “more planning than the largest Broadway production I’ve ever worked on”.

Toy Factory Productions was also gearing up to present the third and final installment of their performance of Chinese epic A Dream Under The Southern Bough - Existence. In 2020, SIFA commissioned an animated film about the life and works of the classic’s playwright Tang Xianzu, a Ming-dynasty writer who is widely hailed as China’s Shakespeare. Now that you’ve seen the gorgeously animated version of this classic tale, check out the finale A Dream Under the Southern Bough – Existence at SIFA 2021.

For director Chong Tze Chien of The Fingers Players, the additional year to develop OIWA – The Ghost of Yotsuya has been a “luxury”. “We don’t always have the luxury of time to spend on the details,” he adds, “Now that we’re given an extra year, it has really benefited us as artists: how our process and how we present this work will be fresh and deep as a result of this time.”

SIFA v2.020 presented The World of Oiwa, where Chong delved deep into his creative processes, taking audiences behind the scenes and showcasing the aesthetic sets and clever puppetry. The presentation ends with two Japanese actors perform a terrifying yet hauntingly beautiful snippet from SIFA 2021’s OIWA - The Ghost of Yotsuya.

Finally, audiences can look forward to The Commission at SIFA 2021 – a triumphant sequel to The Pitch that saw the directors from three Singaporean rival theatre companies work together in a shared desire to continue making work and to each other. The Commission unites Adrian Pang, Ivan Heng and Gaurav Kripalani and promises to be a sharp satire on theatre making in a pandemic.

Live tickets to these local commissions are selling fast! If you’ve missed out on live tickets, these Festival Commissions will also be available on SIFA On Demand from 5 Jun – 12 Jun. For more information, visit sifa.sg/vod.

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  • 2021