Walking along Stamford Road towards the Festival Village, I found myself in the middle of a bustling crowd. There were people chilling on bean bags watching singers perform on stage, a photo booth with a snaking queue and numerous stalls selling food and drinks to fill up hungry stomachs and beat the heat.
Welcome to the Singapore Night Festival.
Currently in its eighth year, the Singapore Night Festival melds a variety of arts and culture events. With spectacular theatrics, innovative performances and surreal light installations, the Singapore Night Festival was a feast for the senses.
In the festival guide’s foreword, Festival Director Angelita Teo said that what set this year’s edition apart from the preceding ones was that visitors could “go behind the scenes of the festival in a series of workshops and artist talks aimed at sharing their creative processes and inspirations.” Here are some of the performances that I got to enjoy on my journey into the night.
Garden of Angels by Theater Tol
As I walked from the Festival Village towards the National Museum of Singapore, crowds of people were congregating the street. They were there to watch Garden of Angels, by Theater Tol, which was inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall. Fascinating, it was a surreal amalgamation of opera, lights and dance. Dancers were suspended in the air by wires that carried them above the enchanted crowd.
An opera song played in the background, adding to the dreamy atmosphere. Suddenly, fizzling lights appeared. The lights shot out like fireworks; a remarkable display of bright yellow light against the inky blue of the night sky. As the moon glowed in the distance, Garden of Angels almost became a magical realm separate from reality.
Proletariat Poetry Factory @ Centre 42
Along Waterloo Street, I popped by Centre 42, which housed the Proletariat Poetry Factory, Alt-topia. The building opened up to a world with the bourgeoisie swathed in their decadence, while sitting next to them, expressionless factory workers in uniforms silently tapped on typewriters to mass-produce poems at a rapid rate.
A long line of visitors – or more accurately in this case, consumers – queued up to enter the factory. Upon reaching the entrance, workers asked visitors to write down any word on a cheque, which was then brought up to the typing floor.
The sight to behold was a busy mess of papers strewn across tables. Workers took a quick glance at the word written by the consumer and typed out a poem from the words gathered. Upon collection of the poem, consumers had the option of paying a small fee to the factory. Leaving Alt-topia, it dawned on me that the Proletariat Poetry Factory was a metaphor for the mass production of identities – nothing but another good to feed into the demands of consumerism.
Light installation by Cie Mastoc Production @ Armenian Church
At the Armenian Church, soft purple light emanating from electric cherry blossoms gently lit the ground. This light installation by Cie Mastoc Production was inspired by hanami, which is a Japanese tradition of enjoying the transient beauty of cherry blossoms. Despite being nestled in the middle of the concrete city, the grounds of the Armenian Church lent a dreamy wash to its surrounding landscape.
The Singapore Night Festival gave us the chance to escape into vibrant, new worlds in places we found familiar.
Although this year’s festival has ended its run, you can keep sight on the dreamscapes via the official Facebook page.
(Photos credit: Singapore Night Festival)