Arts Review Singapore

SIFA v2.020: The Necessary Stage presents Digital Traces: The Year of No Return vodcasts


Following the successful wave of digital programmes featuring a strong music focus earlier in June and July, The Necessary Stage invites audiences into the world of The Year of No Return through Digital Traces: The Year of No Return beginning on 15 August 2020. Commissioned by Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA), The Year of No Return by The Necessary Stage is slated for its world premiere at the festival in 2021 alongside three other Singaporean theatre companies. Written by Haresh Sharma and Rody Vera and directed by Alvin Tan, The Year of No Return features a diverse cast of Asian actors and artists in an international production that reckons with climate change and its irrevocable impact on our lives.  

Over a Zoom play-reading session and four vodcast episodes released on the 15th of each month, audiences can catch a glimpse of the production through the lens of its various characters. Through film, sound, movement and text presented digitally, these vignettes consider the implications of climate change from the perspective of an advocate to the environmental scientist and the regular man on the street.  These facets are introduced in a virtual reading of the play that unpacks the themes and ideas within a key strand of the narrative. These will merge in vodcasts that provide glimpses into episodes within the play, including one featuring some of the actors stepping out of their characters to contemplate their own relationship with the environment. Together, Digital Traces poses the question: How far are you willing to go to save the planet? 

Melissa Lim, General Manager of The Necessary Stage and Dramaturg for The Year of No Return, shares: “We are thrilled to be able to share the world of The Year of No Return with the audience via digital media. This series of vodcasts will present various facets and characters from the play as is—before it undergoes rewrites for the eventual premiere in 2021. We hope that they will open up an intriguing audio-visual terrain for audiences to explore, as they imagine the universe of the play, and experience the intersecting narratives that will be expanded on at the staging.” 

The Necessary Stage brings the issue of climate change to the stage through an alliance of actors from Singapore and all over the region. The Year of No Return presents the environmental crisis from the perspective of different individuals and discourses, as conversations with researchers and scientists are translated into a dramatic constellation of light, sound, and multimedia elements on the stage. Known for their incisive social commentary and commitment to the representation of marginalised voices, The Necessary Stage’s The Year of No Return dialogues with an increasingly conscious, critical, and outspoken public, providing an Asian perspective to a global emergency on SIFA’s international stage. Peeling back science and statistics, this intensely relevant offering underscores the role of the arts as a site for a collaborative reckoning with critical social issues. 

Digital Traces: The Year of No Return will be made available through SIFA All-Access, from 15 August 2020, with new vodcasts released monthly till November 2020. Subscribe to the SIFA newsletter and visit for weekly news and updates on SIFA v2.020. 

The Singapore International Festival of the Arts 2020 was originally slated to run from 15th to 31st May 2020, but was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It will return in 2021. 

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