Arts

Strawberry Fields Festival

Strawberry Fields Festival is a three-day music and arts festival looking to welcome up to 8,000 audio and experiential visitors to the tree-lined Murray River banks, with art installations, music, workshops and food to keep your mind fresh.

Dark MOFO 2018 : The Winter Solstice in Tasmania

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i Light Marina Bay 2018: Plastic Waste Reinvented as Art

Singapore’s signature light art festival will run from 9 March to 1 April 2018 with sustainability as a major theme. The showcase of 22 local and international light art installations will take place in Marina Bay and Esplanade Park.

Environmental & Social Responsibility at Singapore Writers Festival

Environmental & Social Responsibility at Singapore Writers Festival

From eco-poetry, social consciousness to civic imagination in the midst of dystopia, the Singapore Writers Festival had poets, writers, illustrators, filmmakers and literary critics come together to deal with urgent global and contemporary issues.

Culture, Nature, Social Enterprise at Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

From recycling to upcycling, Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 showed its commitment to lower environmental impacts while staging higher musical and social impacts on fans. Mallika Naguran hangs out at the event to bask in the festivity and deliver this report.

Nature Tribute at Rainforest World Music Festival 2015

Nature lovers can look forward to songs being sung and music being played that are dedicated to elements of nature. How apt, since the setting is by the rainforest of Santubong in Sarawak.

CausewayEXchange: Lit Up KL, Plays, Film, Poetry Slam

Singapore and Malaysia got together for a unique cultural programme, CausewayEXchange 2011, where Mallika Naguran joined fellow Singapore travellers to enjoy the weekend's literary affair in Kuala Lumpur.

15 August 2011, Kuala Lumpur. Singapore invaded the arts scene in Kuala Lumpur city in August 2011 for a brief period, bringing an artistic fabric sewn with a cultural thread that reflected the island nation's identity. Singapore and Malaysia share a common history and were in fact one country before 1965. They also saw the horrors of World War II, the Japanese occupation, and rode out many regional crises together.


A Singaporean and Malaysian playwright collaborated in theatreworks at CausewayEXchange

Plays, films, poetry slam (Malaysian wit put to test against Singaporean erudition), talks and photo exhibition – what a treat it was for art lovers and for city fugitives. The CausewayEXchange was organised by the Asian Culture Enterprise Singapore and DMR Productions from 4-7 August 2011. It reprised the 2010 event where 30 Malaysian artists performed to an audience of 3,000 at The Singapore Arts House.

On Friday 1 August 2011, two coaches hit the road from Singapore to the Malaysian capital city, taking some 60 people from the art, music and media industries, plus tourists who signed up for this unique programme.

The Singapore participants took in a tour of Johor on the way to Kuala Lumpur.  First stop was to sample superlicious nasi lemak at Danga Bay, then learn about mushroom cultivation at Kampong Tewaka in Kempas, about an hour’s drive from the Causeway.


Kampong Tewaka mushroom farm in Kempas, Malaysia grows oyster mushrooms using organic methods

Back on the road the tour stopped again to sink its teeth into Anthony Fish Ball in Yong Peng, apparently the favourite of Colin Goh, CEO of The Arts House. Well, trust Singaporeans to spot the good eating-places, even in Malaysia.

Singapore - An Accidental Nation

Once at the destination of Kuala Lumpur, the main venue was the heritage grounds of Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre @ Sentul Park (KLPAC).

The two plays staged here reflected themes that both Singaporeans and Malaysians could identify with. Singapore playwright Desmond Sim collaborated with Malaysian writer Nandang Abdul Rahman to produce a series of short plays collectively dubbed Food, Sex and Death.


Nandang Abdul Rahman's 'The Five Stages of Grief' playlet as part of Food, Sex & Death theatre show

I caught up with Desmond Sim before the start of the play and discussed how special it was for Singapore to share its culture with Malaysia when Singapore – being connected to Malaysia by a couple of bridges - is not all that different.

Sim agreed. “Both countries were one before. If you think about it, Singapore is an accidental nation because of what transpired in Malaysian politics,” he says, referring to the split in party lines back in the sixties.

KLPAC's Theatre for Young People featured five actors who switch roles to enact different characters in a set of five plays written by Desmond Sim and Nandang Abdul Rahman, and directed by Christopher Lim. In four of the plays, humour laced the lines that also depict universal emotions of human relationships. In the fifth play titled 'The Five Stages of Grief', the theme of death was dealt with, demonstrating progressively disbelief, anger, blame and remorse that happen with the demise of a loved one. Poignant indeed.

Kuala Lumpur premiered On TheEmerald Hill, a dramatic monologue by Singaporean actor, director and playwright Jonathan Lim. Directed by Christina Sergeant, the play thrilled the audience from the second the curtain opened to reveal a believable cemetery (actually transformed theatre seats with stenciled gravestones). A reversed theatre it was, with the small room of audience sitting on the stage area, looking on to scenes of Emily of Emerald Hill at Choa Chu Kang Chinese Cemetery.


Jonathon Lim stars in the monologue 'On This Emerald Hill', which he also scripted

In the play, a gregarious Peranakan woman - Emily of Emerald Hill - meets an ordinary Chinese Singaporean man who is overwhelmed with having to bury his dead father in a hole that isn’t big enough. The re-enactment of Kuo Pao Kun’s The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole is brilliant as Jonathan Lim combines both iconic Singapore plays with amazing wit, humour and nostalgia.

Other programmes that entertained Malaysians were CausewayEXchangefilms, exhibitions, literary talks and poetry slamming.  There was the screening of filmmaker Tan Pin Pin’s highly acclaimed Singapore Gaga. And anyone could walk in to appreciate the exhibition of cartoonist Heng Kim Song’s works and JFlash Studio’s photographs of Singaporeans from all walks of life.

Lit Up KL featured writer Ken Mizusawa, an award-winning Japanese educator and playwright who lives in Singapore. 

Malaysian Versus Singaporean Poets


Heng Kim Song's telling cartoons featured

Later that night, the poetry slam was great fun as youths from Singapore and Malaysia pitted their literary strengths against each other. While the Malaysians raged about political and education systems in their country, Singaporean poets took on a more artistic stance to display literary art forms in verses – rhymed or blank.

Special mention has to go to Marc Daniel Nair from Singapore for his amazing talent in writing and delivering good poetry, with good use of allusions, imagery and metaphors.  His poem on Hector and Mbuyisa Makhubo titled How Secrets Are Made was particularly touching. Ben Chua was also a favourite, as he recited his highly imaginary and funny poems, each about three minutes long, all from memory.


Poetry slam winners (from right): Marc Nair (2nd, Singapore), Michelle Lee (3rd, Malaysia) and Thato Ntshobele (tops, Malaysia). Watch the videos on Gaia Discovery YouTube station.

The judges’ top favourite was the animated Thato Ntshobele who roused chuckles within the audience as they snapped their fingers and stamped the floor in appreciation of his rap beat and rhythm in poetry reading.

If you want to get a closer look at the poetry slam, why not watch the short videos I took?

The overall winner - Thato Ntshobele - was not strictly speaking a Malaysian, but an African studying in Malaysia, so the Singaporean supporters were left confused as how he could represent Malaysia in the next big challenge - the Asia Pacific poetry slam. But you know what Singaporeans are like - they play by the rules, almost robot like.

Maybe it takes an exchange programme like this with Malaysia to appreciate that sometimes, rules can be bent, just a little, just because they can. As we tucked into Portuguese delights in the famous historical Malacca town on the bus ride home, we were still struggling with the answer.

Nonetheless, we all thoroughly enjoyed the three-day cultural encounter with our best neighbour, and look forward to the next CausewayEXchange.

Photos by Mallika Naguran

For more information, please visit www.klpac.org ; www.causeway-exchange.com or www.facebook.com/causewayexchange.

Organisers:

Contact Danny Chan

Producer| Asian Culture Enterprise (S) Ltd

danny@spaces.org.sg

Contact Shawn Lourdusamy

Director

DMR Productions

shawn@dmr.com.sg

14th Rainforest World Music Festival a Wonder

From 'pathos in purity' to 'high-wire energy', Borneo's famed world music festival is all of this and more, describes Mallika Naguran.

CausewayEXchange 2011 Bridges Art and Culture Between Singapore and Malaysia

Singapore and Malaysia find a common ground in the arts through a unique cultural expose called CausewayEXchange. The flavours of Singapore in the form of photo exhibition, theatre and film productions will drift over the causeway bridges to be staged at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre @ Sentul Park (KLPAC) over three days, beginning 4 August 2011.

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Miri International Jazz Festival 2010 Features James Cotton Blues Band, New Orleans All Stars, Ricardo Herz, Amina Figarova and Other Top Jazz and Blues Artistes

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