- Presenting over 200 game-changing artists from Singapore and around the world
- Increasing the accessibility of arts to diverse audiences and cultivating the next generation of art lovers
Singapore, 25 February 2020 – Asia's pinnacle performing arts festival, the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA), returns for its 43rd edition from 15 to 31 May 2020. With over 60 programmes across three weeks, SIFA continues to forge new artistic experiences for artists and audiences.
In Gaurav Kripalani’s third and final year as Festival Director, SIFA 2020 looks to celebrate many spectacular firsts. In addition to the previously announced Asian premiere of dance-theatre production Revisor by choreographer Crystal Pite’s company Kidd Pivot, Pulitzer Prize finalist and multi-hyphenate artist Taylor Mac will also be performing in Asia for the first time with A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Aerial dance troupe Wired Aerial Theatre will also be making their Southeast Asian debut with an incredible outdoor production, As The World Tipped.
Kripalani says: “I am honoured to work with an excellent team at Arts House Limited (AHL) to curate the best performing arts festival in Asia which brings together game-changing artists with unique artistic voices. It is this collection of shared experiences that brings people together. With the exciting lineup of shows and commissions this year, audiences can see the arc of what we have strived to achieve over these three years. I'm heartened that SIFA has been able to foster so many collaborations and has grown to become a platform where artists can be inspired by one another”.
Commissioned by the National Arts Council and organised by Art House Limited, the festival brings the best artists from Singapore and around the world to the local stage. SIFA 2020 will also present four commissioned productions — a culmination of a three-year journey that began in 2018. Nine Years Theatre, The Finger Players, and The Necessary Stage will premiere original work that features a strong thread of collaboration with international actors and artists which has been one of Kripalani’s key goals. Toy Factory Productions will also present the long-awaited final installment of a three-part festival commission, A Dream Under the Southern Bough: Existence.
END OF AN ERA
Kripalani’s three-year arc with SIFA has been inspired by three guiding principles: to present game-changing artists who are pushing the boundaries of their respective art forms; to showcase the best artists in Singapore by providing them with the opportunity to stage work on an unprecedented scale; and to foster collaboration between Singaporean and international artists. The end goal is to push boundaries, to provoke and inspire both artist and audiences alike.
2018 saw masters of craft like theatre stalwart Thomas Ostermeier, tap dance extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance, and jazz wunderkind Jacob Collier take to the stage. In the following year, SIFA 2019 was headlined by legendary musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto who made a momentous return after a battle with cancer in an unprecedented performance on water. Also featured was another visionary Asian artist, director Tadashi Suzuki, who continued SIFA’s push for innovative theatre work with actors from Japan, China, and Indonesia performing in an adaptation of the Greek legend of Dionysus. In dance, choreographer Sasha Waltz amazed and astounded audiences with her unique brand of corporeal expression in Körper.
As previously announced, 2020 will feature four new Singapore commissions that have been developed during his tenure. Kripalani has always expressed the importance of not rushing new work, wanting SIFA to be a global platform for Singapore artists to develop new work over a two to three-year horizon. For example, as the only arts festival to present Suzuki’s Dionysus in 2019, two game-changing artists commissioned by Kripalani for 2020 are Nelson Chia and Mia Chee. Their company, Nine Years Theatre, has trained under Suzuki for years.
In the area of dance, 2018 featured Michelle Dorrance who revolutionised the world of tap, while 2019 juxtaposed Sasha Waltz’s iconic work, Körper, against Giselle Vienne’s Crowd. 2020 will be headlined by the Asian premiere of Crystal Pite’s Revisor and will also feature Queen Blood by Paradox-Sal, an exciting young all-female dance company who are making waves in the international dance scene.
Finally, having featured some of the best Western and Asian musicians with Collier and Sakamoto, SIFA 2020 will round off this musical journey with one of our most innovative local talents. Helming their own SIFA production for the first time this year, homegrown independent experimental band The Observatory will perform in a special collaboration with talented musicians from Singapore’s migrant worker community.
Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited (AHL), adds: “Our pinnacle arts festival has a long history of celebrating artistic excellence, and this year is no different. Experiments of genre, dialogue of social issues, and of some of the world’s game-changing artists continue to be part of Gaurav’s vision. If you want to be uplifted, inspired, and energised, you have to be at SIFA”.
She added: “Thanks to the continued support of the National Arts Council and Singapore Tourism Board, I am pleased that Singapore is now recognised as a leading destination for world-class performances. Our national arts festival reaches out to both arts aficionados and diverse communities from Singapore and beyond”.
Low Eng Teong, Deputy Chief Executive (Sector Development), National Arts Council, says, “As an eagerly anticipated highlight of Singapore’s performing arts calendar, SIFA has grown into a festival embraced by audiences for its ground-breaking home-grown productions and exciting international collaborations. SIFA continues to be a significant platform for our major performing arts groups and practitioners to stage compelling works, positioning Singapore globally as a city for creative expression. SIFA 2020 will be a distinctive finale for Gaurav’s tenure at the helm of Singapore’s pinnacle performing arts event”.
ARTISTIC JOURNEYS: BRINGING COMMUNITIES TOGETHER
To help audiences navigate through the festival, the SIFA team has created five artistic journeys that trace the different threads that run through the festival – Moving Images, Classics Reinvented, Facets of Femininity, Navigating the Now, and The Sum of Our Parts. Audiences are invited to explore these threads, but also strongly encouraged to seek out and discover journeys of their own during the festival.
Aesthetic Richness and Powerful Visuals
Honing the beauty of movement into spectacular visual productions, bodies come together to tell compelling stories. Marvel with the crowd in a large-scale outdoor performance combining gymnastics and bungee-assisted dance (As The World Tipped), be mesmerised by the tapping and twirling of a performer’s fingers on a dioramic stage (Cold Blood), and feast your eyes on an incredibly energetic combination of dance and theatre (Revisor).
- As The World Tipped by Wired Aerial Theatre suspends performers in the air on an outdoor stage which tilts and transforms into a 10-metre-tall vertical screen. Against the backdrop of video projections and falling props, watch them grapple against a tide of obstacles in their fight against climate change.
- Cold Blood is a sublime nano-dance production at the intersection of stage and screen where miniature movements are made viewable with close-up film projections. Created by Michèle Anne De Mey and Jaco Van Dormael with text by Thomas Gunzig, this performance combines skillful camera work and intricate movements on a dioramic stage. Under the nimble fingers of the Belgium-based Astragales, Cold Blood is a one-of-a-kind performance carving out its own niche in dance and storytelling.
- The highly anticipated dance-theatre production Revisor created by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young tells a story of mistaken identity through frenetic movements spliced to the rhythm of words and syllables. Pite’s dance troupe, Kidd Pivot, synthesises multiple dance genres into an exciting narrative that ricochets across its colourful cast of characters. Pite’s work has been seen here as part of Nederlands Dans Theatre and Paris Opera Ballet, but this is the first time a full-length work by her own company will be presented in Singapore.
Classics Come to Life with a Contemporary Twist
Cultural classics across the globe are interpreted through a range of artistic disciplines. With timeless themes that resonate with contemporary audiences, these performances illuminate different facets of an ever-evolving essence of humanity.
- A work inspired by his encounter with the Mogao Cave murals in Dunhuang, world-renowned composer Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion is the first of its kind in the world. This six-act opera weaves the life and teachings of Buddha together with timeless messages of peace, compassion, and gentleness. In this performance, Internationale Chorakademie Lübeck from Germany and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra will come together alongside seven soloists as one of the opening works of this year’s festival.
- No Longer Gagok: Room 5↻ is an intimate exploration of 18th-century Korean court music known as gagok. Created by Park Minhee, this performance challenges the conventions of the traditional art form by dissolving the physical and imagined distance between performer and audience.
- Rounding up the repertoire of updated classics is A Dream Under the Southern Bough: Existence by Toy Factory Productions which will complete its final chapter in reimagining the work of Tang Xianzu, widely known as the Shakespeare of the East for his Kun operas.
FACETS OF FEMININITY
Women of the World
Three productions take on the joys, sorrows, and struggles of women through the centuries. Illustrated on the stage, these distinct performances unpack the experience and expressions of femininity through the unique movements of hip-hop, puppetry, and regimented kinesthetic drills.
- Queen Blood channels female energy into dance to explore a breadth of emotions. Brought together by house dance specialist and choreographer Ousmane Sy, the all-female dance group Paradox-Sal challenges the way femininity is coded through gestures.
- A famous Japanese legend of revenge, horror and romance gone wrong is reimagined in Oiwa – Ghost of Yotsuya. The Finger Players will take this legend in a new direction by exploring the narrative from the perspectives of lesser-heard characters to contextualise Oiwa’s story of suffering.
- Informed by the Suzuki Method of Actor Training and Viewpoints, Nine Years Theatre and Anne Bogart’s SITI Company (New York) come together in a long-awaited collaboration to tell a tale plagued by pessimism. Afflicted by the perils of boredom, Three Sisters follows the story of the titular sisters who must grapple with unhappy marriages, unsatisfying careers, and a creeping sense of ennui. This will be the first Chekhov play to be staged in Mandarin in Singapore.
NAVIGATING THE NOW
Challenging Today to Create Tomorrow
With a constant finger on the pulse of society, artists tap on their craft as powerful tools to provoke discourse and dialogue. These performances characterise our experience of modernity, peeling apart the present to reveal possibilities of our future.
- Ensemble intercontemporain – The Wind Quintet challenges preconceived notions of the traditional orchestral ensemble through the incorporation of multidisciplinary elements, including film, lighting, and visual arts.
- Homegrown band The Observatory presents the third edition of its curated film and music performance series, Source x Audible Lands. With the aim of seeking out under-represented voices in arts, music and culture, this collaboration with filmmaker Eric Lee and composer Otomo Yoshihide documents the talented musicians in Singapore’s migrant worker community.
- Climate change is put in the spotlight in The Year of No Return, a multi-disciplinary production from The Necessary Stage in collaboration with artists from the Southeast Asian region. This production translates the science and statistics of this global crisis into a uniquely Asian perspective on our relationship with the environment.
THE SUM OF OUR PARTS
Together as One
Discover the individuals behind the story and the stories behind the individual. Interactive installations and participatory productions see art bringing people together in a world of uncertainty.
- 100% Singapore by Rimini Protokoll brings one hundred Singaporeans from all walks of life together onstage in an enactment of statistical data about our city’s demographics. The experience has been brought to over 35 cities worldwide and explores the multifaceted identity of each city. 100 Singapore residents who each represent 1% of the city’s population will undertake an extensive survey that, together with their personal stories, illustrate the DNA of our island city.
- Musical Swings by Daily Tous les Jours is a visually stunning public installation that invites people of all ages to connect over a collaborative music-making experience. Bringing ten swings to the Cathay green, each simulating the piano, harp, guitar, or vibraphone, creating music returns us to the childhood joy of riding on a swing. Hear rich melodies unfold when multiple swings are in motion.
- A 24-Decade History of Popular Music by multi-award winning composer, director, auteur, and drag queen, Taylor Mac, is a comedic, bedazzled musical theatre romp through history. In this abridged two-hour performance, Taylor Mac decodes the social history of the United States while also calling attention to an increasingly complex sense of humanity that unites us in one form or another around the world.
SIFA’s diverse threads of performances and programmes will converge once again at The Arts House — SIFA’s Festival House. A space for debate, dialogue and discussion, the Festival House bridges artists and audiences through more personal artistic encounters in the form of talks, workshops, and intimate performances.
Returning to the Festival House this year is the festival bar, House Pour. Meet and mingle between shows over drinks, and take a look at the 100% Singapore exhibition that provides a snapshot of each of the hundred participants behind the production and their view of the city they live in.
This year, the Festival House features a strong thread of climate change that ties in with The Year of No Return and As The World Tipped. There will also be a full day of talks and discussions featuring challenging conversations about environmental sustainability alongside the Earth Bazaar eco-market.
SIFA’s festival partners are an integral part of our efforts in reaching out to a greater audience. In 2020, SIFA is proudly supported by ArtsEquator and Universal Displays in addition to its existing partners — the Asian Dramaturgs’ Network, Asian Film Archive and the Esplanade. The Asian Dramaturgs’ Network collective unites the region’s dramaturgical expertise and knowledge, while the Asian Film Archive curates a selection of films as part of SIFA’s Singular Screens. Esplanade’s Flipside returns as an industry partner as well.
Watch out again for the $10 front-row student ticket this year, as well as concessions for students, NSFs, senior citizens and ticket bundle deals.
Musical Swings will be non-ticketed and staged at a non-traditional performance space the Cathay Green.
Tickets are available via online booking at www.sifa.sg, phone booking at +65 6348 5555, and at all SISTIC outlets.
More information on SIFA 2020’s full lineup can be found on sifa.sg.
For more information, please contact:
T: +65 6339 2883
M: +65 8163 4662
Arts House Limited
T: +65 6435 0240
M: +65 9274 7553
Arts House Limited
T: +65 6435 0176
M: +65 9180 7776
For more information on each programme, please refer to the following annexes:
Annex A: As The World Tipped
Annex B: Cold Blood
Annex C: Revisor
Annex D: Buddha Passion
Annex E: No Longer Gagok: Room 5↻
Annex F: A Dream Under the Southern Bough: Existence
Annex G: Queen Blood
Annex H: Oiwa – Ghost of Yotsuya
Annex I: Three Sisters
Annex J: Ensemble intercontemporain – The Wind Quintet
Annex K: Source x Audible Lands
Annex L: The Year of No Return
Annex M: 100% Singapore
Annex N: Musical Swings
Annex O: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music
Annex P: Singular Screens
Annex Q: Festival Partners
About the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2020 (SIFA 2020)
As Singapore’s annual pinnacle performing arts festival, the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) presents captivating and diverse works across theatre, music, dance, film and visual arts. First launched as the Singapore Festival of Arts in 1977, the festival has gone through several evolutions and inspired generations of arts lovers and practitioners. Today, the highly anticipated festival is a high point on Singapore’s arts and cultural calendar.
Under the helm of Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani from 2018–2020, SIFA continues its festival mission to champion the creation and presentation of Singaporean and international works. At SIFA 2020, The Arts House will once again be transformed into the Festival House. With meaningful engagement opportunities from artists talks, workshops, discussions and the festival bar—House Pour, the Festival House breaks down the walls between artists and audiences to create unique experiences and inspiring artistic encounters.
About Arts House Limited
Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the arts. AHL manages two key landmarks located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District – The Arts House, a multi-disciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming, and the Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, a heritage building that is home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. It also runs the Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses, and performing arts space Drama Centre. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the annual pinnacle celebration of performance and interdisciplinary arts in Singapore commissioned by the National Arts Council.
AHL was set up in 11 Dec 2002 as a company limited by guarantee (CLG) under the National Arts Council and was formerly known as The Old Parliament House Limited. It was officially renamed Arts House Limited on 19 Mar 2014.
About National Arts Council
The National Arts Council champions the arts in Singapore. By nurturing creative excellence and supporting broad audience engagement, our diverse and distinctive arts inspire our people, connect communities and profile Singapore internationally. We preserve our rich cultural traditions as we cultivate accomplished artists and vibrant companies for the future. Our support for the arts is comprehensive – from grants and partnerships to industry facilitation and arts housing. The Council welcomes greater private and corporate giving to and through the arts, so that together we can make the arts an integral part of everyone’s lives. For more information on the Council’s mission and plans, please visit www.nac.gov.sg.