Singapore Arts Festival 2008


23 May – 22 June 2008


The Singapore Arts Festival unveiled the details for its 22nd edition programme today. Organised by the National Arts Council, the Festival runs over four weeks, and features more than 1,800 artists from 27 countries performing in 25 main productions and over 400 free performances, exhibitions and special events under its Outreach programme. The line-up includes 7 new commissions (with 2 world premieres), 8 Asian premieres and 3 international co-commissions. Known for its innovative programming and brokering role in promoting international collaborations, this year’s Festival takes artists and audiences on a journey of creative adventures and unique discoveries.


“We are excited to present new finds and artists from emerging regions of Asia andEurope who are making their first major international festival debut. We are also proud of our new commissions by both experienced and emergent artists from Singapore. Three among them are already set to travel to international destinations. We remain firm in our faith in supporting, discovering and promoting young talent, and championing new works as an important mark of a worthy festival. I invite audiences to come to the Festival to be surprised, engaged, and to expect the unexpected,” said Goh Ching Lee, Director for the Singapore Arts Festival.  


Singapore Commissions and Artists in Focus

Singapore’s homegrown artists will take centrestage in this year’s Festival. For the first time, three Singapore works commissioned by the Festival have received the support of three international festivals. The King Lear Project: A Trilogy by Ho Tzu Nyen and Fran Borgia and Temple by Cake Theatrical Productions will be shown respectively atBrussels’s Kunstenfestivaldesarts in May and Naples’s Napoli Teatro Festival Italia in June this year. awaking, a production conceived and directed by Ong Keng Sen with composer Qu Xiao Song, musicians from the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Musicians of the Globe and The Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre, will also travel to the Edinburgh International Festival in the near future. Another Festival co-commission Drift by Drama Box (Singapore) and Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre (China) will come to the Festival following its successful premiere at the Singapore Season in China in 2007.


A fresh cohort of artists will be making their debuts in the Festival’s development and showcase platforms for Singapore’s next generation of artists. Forward Moves, will present its third edition with three female dance creators Ebelle Chong, Joavien Ng and Neo Hong Chin. Full Frontal, the platform for theatre talent, will feature ZiZi Azah in her directorial debut of a classic text Rhinoceros at the Festival. Three dramaturges, namely Tang Fu Kuen, Robin Loon, and Kok Heng Leun, have been appointed to support the creative process under these two platforms.


Not forgetting rising young classical music soloists, the Singapore Festival Orchestra’sFestival Fantasia will feature Singapore violinist Tang Tee Khoon, and Chinese pianist Shen Wenyu, who made history as the youngest prize winner in the Queen Elizabeth Competition in 2003.


The repertoire includes Cherish, a Festival commission by Singapore composer Tan Chan Boon, who will be celebrating 30 years of his musical career as a composer.


Homegrown composer Ho Chee Kong will be contributing his new work Shades of Oil Lamps to the list of 20th century masterpieces performed by the London Sinfonietta(United Kingdom). Meanwhile, Singapore’s flagship dance company Singapore Dance Theatre marks its 20th anniversary this year with Continuum, a triple bill featuring fresh contemporary works of Euro-American choreographers’ creations.


Arts from New Territories

In keeping with the Festival’s continuous desire to introduce new finds and artists from less familiar regions, Festival will be introducing artists from countries of Central andSouth-east Europe and Central Asia. These works include two powerful contemporary interpretations of classics by choreographer Edward Clug – The Architecture of Silenceperformed by the Slovene National Theatres Opera & Ballet Maribor and Lujbljana, and the Singapore Festival Orchestra (Slovenia/Singapore), and Radio and Juliet by the Slovene National Theatre Maribor (Slovenia). East West Theater Company (Bosnia & Herzegovina) will perform Class Enemy, which sets Nigel Williams’s play of the 1980s in present-daySarajevo, while artists from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan will bring audiences their rich musical traditions in Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia: Nomads, Mystics and Troubadours.


Water Wonders, Amazing Arts

Together with its new partners PUB and Singapore International Water Week, Festival will be celebrating the value of arts and water on two major water bodies in the programme series Water Wonders. Be enthralled by the lyrical poeticism of the dreamscapes inWater Fools by Ilotopie (France) on the Singapore River at the Festival Opening at Boat Quay. The powerful theatrical acts engineered by The Lunatics (The Netherlands) inHydro Sapiens at the Bedok Reservoir will wreak havoc at the spectacular closing celebrations.


To bring the public a taste of the exciting Festival experience in an interactive way, the Festival has also commissioned a Festival Maze, an installation by designer Chia Yu Hsien titled disSPACEments. As the public wander through the maze of towers outside the Raffles City Shopping Centre, they will be able to find information on the Festival amidst this installation. The Festival Maze will be open to the public in May.


Spectrum of Artistic Intensity and Exciting Fun

Be enthralled by the Festival’s programme ranging from the traditional to the avant garde.The Festival continues to explore the interdisciplinary possibilities presented by the re-imagination of music rooted in traditions and avant garde music-making of the 20th and 21st centuries in productions, such as London Sinfonietta (UK) and the Festival co-commission awaking. This cutting-edge crossover can also be found recorder collectiveQNG – Quartet New Generation (Germany); The Lord of the Rings Symphony by the Singapore Festival Orchestra, Chorus of the Slovene National Theatres Maribor and Ljubljana, and the Singapore Lyric Opera Children’s Choir; as well as Sonos ‘E Memoria(Italy).


Themes of confronting indifference, ignorance and prejudices run deep in works such asClass Enemy (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and For all the wrong reasons by Victoria/Contact (Belgium/UK). Nine Hills One Valley by Indian theatre luminary Ratan Thiyam’s Chorus Repertory Theatre of Manipur (India) and Back To Back Theatre’s small metal objects (Australia). Innovative and edgy expressions can also be seen in dance works such as Nibroll’s no direction (Japan) and Dance Theatre ON’s Ah Q (South Korea), while La La La Human Step's Amjad (Canada), led by renowned choreographer, Édouard Lock, inspires with its virtuosic interpretations of ballet classics.


Arts For All

A host of entertaining and engaging events also awaits the public in the Festival’s Outreach Programme. KIDSFEST is back with a difference this year, with segmented theatre programmes for kids of different ages, a storytelling competition for schools, and Taster Workshops for kids to be exposed to different arts activities. Free activities for everyone also abound in the Festival. Familiar favourites such as Arts on the Move and Asian Showcase will also be back. Catch Maha Mela from the Asian Showcase at Little India in a dusk-to-dawn special, celebrating the Indian cultural heritage. Asian Showcase also features rich traditions of Asia in Cantonese Opera Delights, and the Malay musical theatre Gentarasa’s Metamorphosis. Under Arts on the Move this year, there are also 2 new commissions for street theatre, namely Three Tai Tais and One Table Three Chairsby Frontier Danceland.


Besides bringing three full weeks of daily performances to public venues, Arts on the Move will comprise a new element in the form of Arts Where We Eat, featuring street performers at various hawker centres. Known for championing Singapore musicians, Timbre has been designated as the Festival Club for Festival 2008. The spirit will run high at its outlets this year, at two prominent arts venues The Arts House and The Substation. The festivities will also spread to the heartlands through the North East District Arts Festival, a result of the PA-NAC Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2006. This District Arts Festival returns with its annual dance competition, together with rock bands and a brand new musical casting senior citizens.


On the visual arts front, one of Singapore’s most internationally prolific artists, Matthew Ngui, will hold his first solo exhibition in Singapore titled Matthew Ngui: Points of View. The exhibition will feature a collection of his past two decades' work which includes key installations, sculptures and video works, apart from new works created specifically for this exhibition.


Workshops, Masterclasses & Talks

Most of the productions will also feature pre- or post-show talks with the artistic directors and key artists. For more information, please visit More information on Festival shows can be found in


Please find the following annexes enclosed for information:

Annex 1 – Key Dates

Annex 2 – Fact Sheet

Annex 3 – Discount and Ticketing Details

Annex 4 – List of Festival Partners


Background on Singapore Arts Festival 2008

Organised by the National Arts Council, the Singapore Arts Festival 2008 opens to the public from 23 May to 22 June 2008. Since its inception in 1977 as a celebration of the arts of the people, the Festival has established itself as the premier arts event in Singapore and one of Asia’s leading arts festivals. The 22nd edition of the Festival celebrates and reflects the Festival’s catalytic role in promoting artistic innovation and excellence in Singapore. It invites audiences to a fresh experience of the Festival, with an inspiring programme featuring internationally acclaimed performing artists from around the world.