This September, the NUS Arts Festival returns for two weeks as they present a new theme of If We Dream, as the festival focuses on invoking the dreams of Singapore’s cultural pioneers through dance, music, theatre, film, exhibition and open dialogue.
Organised by the NUS Centre for the Arts, this year’s theme takes its title from Goh Poh Seng’s novel If We Dream Too Long, published the same year as the formation of the University’s first arts group in 1968. At the same time, the NUS Centre For the Arts will be simultaneously celebrating its milestone 25th anniversary, as it continues to enrich campus life through its art programmes.
During the festival itself, a number of local and international artists, thought leaders from across the campus and student performers will come together to explore and celebrate the achievements of Singapore’s pioneers and predecessors, as they consider the future and wonder: do we dream the same dreams? Or do we attempt to chart a brand new path for ourselves?
The festival opens with the premiere of On The Shoulders of Giants, a dance show presented by NUS Dance Synergy. Directed by NAC Young Artist Award recipient (2017) Yarra Ileto, together with Albert Tiong and Goh Shou Yi, On the Shoulders of Giants attempts to better understand the dreamers and giants of the past, and questions if their dreams and ideals require change to still be applicable today.
Closing the entire festival will be Ode to Joy, a concert performed by the NUS Symphony Orchestra & the NUSChoir as they perform Beethoven’s magnum opus that has become an anthem celebrating the inherent yearning for freedom, unity and hope for humankind. This performance will be conducted by Maestro Lim Soon Lee, and feature soloists Ee-Ping Yee, Jade Tan Shi Yun, Jonathan Tay and Valentin Lazrein.
New theatrical shows set to premiere as part of the festival include Tetsuro Shigematsu’s cinematographic Empire of the Son, where a father and a son who, despite being popular public radio broadcasters in Japan and Canada respectively, have somehow never speak to each other. Meanwhile, New York-based producer Damon Chua and Singapore-based lawyer Wang Liansheng will be premiering past // present, as both playwrights present a series of short works from both their own playwriting archives, as well as two brand new short plays, all focusing on males struggling with societal norms. Finally, NUS Arts Festival will also see the premiere of The Golden Record 2.0, a sequel to The Golden Record (NUS Arts Festival 2017) which was inspired by the 40th anniversary of the 1977 NASA launch of Voyager I and II. Directed by Edith Podesta, the work seeks to question what messages Singaporeans might choose to communicate with the universe.
On The Golden Record 2.0, says director Edith Podesta: “The Golden Record 2.0 is a set of interviews collated by Corrie Tan, and it offers the interviewees an opportunity to think, to dream, and to celebrate what Singapore means to them on a personal level. As for my own dream, it’s really to work in theatre till the day I die.”
Other highlights announced for the festival include traditional dance choreographies from NUS Ilsa Tari and NUS Indian Dance, a rock ‘n’ roll dance performance by NUS Dance Blast!, an interactive installation where words and ideas are transformed into music and visuals and a concert at the Botanic Gardens by the NUS Wind Symphony.
Says Festival Director Mary Loh: “This year’s Festival harkens back to those who have come before us and their accomplishments, great and small, and asks the fundamental question ‘What does our generation dream of?’ We are pleased to present authentic voices that emerge from reimagining the possibilities and the perils of dreaming.”
If We Dream: NUS Arts Festival 2018 runs from 7th to 23rd September 2018. Tickets and full programme lineup available here