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Singapore Writers Festival 2019: A Bigger Party Than Expected (Preview)

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In celebration of Eurasian literary pioneer Rex Shelley, the Singapore Writers Festival is once again collaborating with the Arts House in bringing festival goers a wild night of fun and performances around the entire building with A Bigger Party Than Expected.

Taking inspiration from Rex Shelley’s seminal novel The Shrimp People, The Arts House is set to transform into a Eurasian wedding, as we watch characters Bertha and Heng getting married, with everyone invited to join in the festivities and partake in the wedding band (Muzik Line) and traditional Eurasian food and drink (from Quentin’s)! Acting as the start and end of your journey, audiences will also spend the night wandering through the Arts House’s various venues and discover a host of other performances by a curated group of local artists, each one taking inspiration from various quotes from the works of Shelley.

Local playwriting collective Main Tulis Group brings back their ETA 9mins programme to showcase eight new nine-minute plays from some of the brightest Malay playwrights today, including Adib Kosnan, Nabilah Said, Nessa Anwar and Zulfadli Rashid, each writing punchy pieces about what it means to be Malay in contemporary Singapore. Local theatremaker Edith Podesta presents Jinkil Nona Redux, digital-participatory choreography work that uses found text choreography of the Jinkli Nona – a traditional Portuguese Malaccan folk song, as culled from interviews with members of the local Eurasian community, and involving silent disco headphones. 

Sound artist Bani Haykal presents Encrypting Kinships, taking audiences on a sound journey written entirely in ciphertext – a unique form of encrypted language. Participants will reflect on the nature of kinship cryptically described as a threefold process of Initiation, Dream State and Transcribing. Local poet Cyril Wong will be performing RISK, as he performs a dramatic reading of a letter “RISK” interspersed with classic songs from the eighties, including Wow by Kate Bush, Nothing Compares To You by Sinead O’Connor and Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough by Patty Smyth and Don Henley.

Finally, theatremaker Irfan Kasban gets involved with two pieces for A Bigger Party Than Expected, with Watch My Damn Mouth (with Ruby Jayaseelan) and Almari with Andre d’Rozario). With Watch My Damn Mouth, both Irfan and Ruby will respond to each other’s vocal gestures and sounds in a vocal movement piece, while in Almari, d’Rozario performs a monologue written and directed by Irfan Kasban exploring the tenuous relationship between the Eurasian body and coloniser.

Whether you’ve read Shelley’s works or not, A Bigger Party Than Expected is set to bring these words to life as never seen before, and if anything, prove the legacy and seminal nature of his writing, and the importance of the Eurasian culture and inspiration it has on art today.

A Bigger Party Than Expected runs at The Arts House on 1st November 2019 as part of the Singapore Writers Festival. Tickets and more information available here

The Singapore Writers Festival 2019 takes place from 1st to 10th November 2019. Advance Sales Festival Passes and Youth Passes are available from now till 2nd September 2019 via SISTIC For more information, visit their website or Facebook. The SWF Festival Pass and Youth Pass allow audiences entry to more than 100 events at a discounted price of S$20 during advanced sales (regular price at S$25) and S$15 respectively.

Festival Pass and Youth Pass holders can also enjoy 20% discount for all other SWF events that are ticketed separately. Tickets for Marlon James and Min Jin Lee’s lectures will go on sale from 16 August while other individually ticketed events will be released in early September.

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