Feature: Singapore Night Festival to transform Bras Basah-Bugis district into arts, cultural oasis

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-22 00:39:10|Editor: Wu Qin
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A visitor takes photos at the preview of the Singapore Night Festival held in Singapore on Aug. 21, 2019. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

by Toh Ee Ming

SINGAPORE, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- As night falls, the iconic facade of the National Museum of Singapore comes to life. Three mysterious characters awaken from their deep slumber to embark on an adventure. Within this whimsical wonderland, it is replete with fantastic worlds -- an underwater paradise filled with sea creatures, a lush secret garden and a shimmering hall of wonders.

This is Keep Dreaming, a light projection show by internationally renowned French group Spectaculaires. This family-friendly showcase is one of the spectacular highlights of this year's Singapore Night Festival (SNF), which returns for its 12th edition.

Set to run on Aug. 23-31, Singapore's Bras Basah-Bugis district will be transformed into a playground of stunning light art installations, as well as a cultural oasis filled with over 40 performances by local and international artists. The district is the arts and heritage district in Singapore's civic center, and home to museums and monuments.

Speaking to the media at a preview on Wednesday evening, festival director Angelita Teo described the Bras Basah -Bugis district as a vibrant and eclectic space.

She said SNF is 12 years old and many of our festival-goers have grown along with us on our festival journey. Year on year, they have come to expect new experiences that transform the Bras Basah-Bugis district, challenging them to see these spaces in a new light.

This year will be no different, she said, adding that she "looks forward to seeing visitors immerse themselves wholly in the festival and the experiences it has to offer."

This year's headlining act is Fuerza Bruta's 30-minute theatre show by globally-acclaimed Argentinean troupe. Festival-goers will be enthralled by their 360-degree outdoor party, which brims with high-energy and action packed aerial acts, suspended "stages", up-close-and-personal encounters, and plenty of confetti. This ticketed show will take place during the second weekend of the festival from Aug. 29 to 31.

In line with the Singapore Bicentennial, this year's festival offerings will also feature works with a Southeast Asian twist, casting a spotlight on folklore and traditions.

One such work is the Legend of Ramayana which will take over the National Museum of Singapore's Banyan tree, with a projection by Spectaculaires. Inspired by the Indian epic poem, it follows Prince Rama's quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the demon King Ravana, through the eyes of a venerable Banyan tree.

This marks the first time the Banyan tree hosts a projection work complemented by a gamelan instrumental performance, which retells the story of the Ramayana in traditional Javanese tembang or poetry.

Familiar heritage buildings and landmarks will be reimagined with a dose of artistry and interactivity, with 16 light artworks spanning projections and installations.

Along the way, visitors are greeted by the Stamford Court clock tower decked in bright and tropical visuals in a playful animated projection, a disco walkway, a Glow Away installation filled with gooey, slippery UV-activated slime and a magical rainforest full of illuminated trees.

A number of the works also explore the effects of climate change.

At Whispers, an immersive installation involving wind therapy by Canadian group Light Society, takes place within the Gallery Theatre of the National Museum of Singapore. Within the dark space, a dramatic, dream-like scene plays out - large sheets rise and fall with the ebb and flow of the wind, giving the audience a sublime and hypnotic glimpse of nature's force, both subtle and powerful.

In another showcase called Collapse! by internationally-acclaimed French filmmaker Luc Jacquet, visitors are transported to the haunting scene of collapsing ice glaciers, melting ice beds and breaking icebergs in the South Pole, through real sound recordings which the artist captured in his excursions to Antarctica.

Meanwhile, three-part installation Intergalactic Dreams by Singaporean artist Jahan Loh captures his exploration of alternative homes in an imagined future where the Earth is no longer hospitable.

The signature Festival Village will also return on a bigger scale this year, with two villages set-up for visitors to stroll around at Dhoby Ghaut Green and the newly-pedestrianised Armenian Street Park.

They can soak up the festive atmosphere while taking in the unique sounds of New Stream Brass Band, a Singapore-based New Orleans style brass band, or watch a zestful dance number by Singapore's home-grown tap-dancing talent, Rhythm Nation.

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