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Preview: DASTAK 2019 by WECANDOIT


Returning for its 4th year, DASTAK, a theatre festival produced by WECANDOIT, is back to present theatre and dance with performances to celebrate Singapore’s Bicentennial year.

Translating to ‘knock’ in English, DASTAK acts as a knock on the social door to contribute to the diversity of Singapore’s theatre and dance landscape, bringing 10 short plays of 10 minutes each directed by 10 different local directors. Touching on fiercely local stories, expect plays that range from thriller, comedy, drama, the festival will even be introducing play based on a true story of Bruce Mathieu – a local hero who served a total of 20 years in a Singapore prison, and is now an anti-drug advocate and motivational speaker.

Says Festival Director Shalaka Karnik Ranadive: “We’ve expanded DASTAK from previous editions to a 10-day festival, with an overseas production from Malaysia, and our 10 short Hindi plays, in addition to the works featuring children. While the short plays are in Hindi, we think that theatre transcends language, and our focus in on the stories themselves to showcase the multicultural flavours of Singapore.”

This year, DASTAK is also introducing Chhota Packet a special dance performance by 40 children aged 7 to 12 years old, including 20 young Chinese ballet dancers from Dance Theatre Arts. Meanwhile, one can also look forward to EK Anokhi Duniya, a musical play juxtapositioning music, dance and drama interweaving Indian, Oriental and Western themes.

Plus, coming in from across the Causeway will be Malaysia’s Encore Melaka, a show aiming to showcase Peranakan & Malaysian culture. The story enacted depicts Parameswara, the last king of Singapura, sailing to the land of Melaka and his association with the legendary Chinese admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho). Several types of Perananakan and Melakan traditional and alluring and magical water dances, such as Zapin, Wau, Dikir Barat and Joget Lambak together with grand percussion Chinese tanggu drums will charm the audiences.

“When I first came to Singapore about 11 years ago, as a foreigner, it was very difficult for me to enter the cultural scene,” Shalaka adds. “Since our first year then, we’ve been very conscious that we want to extend our reach to non-Indian audience members as well, with surtitles and involving non-Indian directors to work on the plays. We put out an open call and so long as you have talent and potential and a good idea, then we want to hear it. It’s amazing how many wonderful and talented people we’ve met as a result.”

“While it did have its roots as an ‘Indian’ festival,” Shalaka concludes. “Eventually, we hope that DASTAK can expand to a Southeast Asian festival, and we want to invite Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and other collaborators from the region to be a part of it. At the end of the day, we hope that DASTAK acts as a platform for cultural exchange, embrace this diversity of voices and ideas and eventually, we think it has the potential to become a brand name, and that we’ve really created something different with this festival.”

With a line-up of culturally diverse arts performances from Singapore and Malaysia, get ready to get cultured with the premiere of these new works as DASTAK arrives at the Stamford Arts Centre this November.

DASTAK runs from 9th to 17th November 2019 at the Stamford Arts Centre, 155 Waterloo Street, Singapore. Tickets available from ShowTickets


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