Even in a pandemic, there’s always time for the arts – even for the little ones! This March holidays, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is launching a brand new annual festival for children with March On, presenting arts experiences spanning music, theatre and dance for children below 12 and their families to participate in.
Not only does the programme focus on the arts alone; it also uses it as a medium to delve into relevant issues facing young people today, and places children at the centre of the creative process, with shows, panel discussions and talks. The key question at the heart of the festival’s conceptualisation was how the pandemic was transforming childhood, and how to engage meaningfully even while masked up and safe-distanced. As such, the team behind March On actively involved children and young adults in the process of planning and creating the festival’s live, digital and hybrid works.
The young will take the driver’s seat in the Esplanade’s first-ever children-led programme – SEEDLINGS. Facilitated by arts practitioners Chong Gua Khee and Faye Lim, a panel made up of children 7 to 12 years old will watch and participate in selected programmes and workshops at the festival, giving them exclusive behind the scenes access culminating in a final presentation where they will be sharing their experience and perspectives.
In The Feelings Farm, the Esplanade invites children to navigate the shifting planes of their emotions, both big and small. Led by Director Edith Podesta and written by Amanda Chong (with music composed by Julian Wong), this multi-disciplinary production features works informed by children of diverse needs and backgrounds over the course of six workshops. Guided by a mysterious Cloud, they tumble through the Jungle of Joy, brave the Field of Fear, sail across the Swamp of Sadness, and explore other familiar feelings, helping children name and understand emotions with compassion.
Students from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ Arts Management programme have helped to curate a series of pop-up free performances just for the young, while three young artists between 13 and 16 years old will lead dance, tabla and visual arts workshops for children as they grow to be leaders in their own genre of practice. In Reimagine a Character! parents and children get the opportunity to step into a costume designer’s shoes and learn character devising and costume design with noted Singapore designers Anthony Tan and Max Tan.
In Robot House Party, put on your dancing shoes for a family-friendly dance party with internationally acclaimed DJ Kid Koala who will join in via Zoom from Canada, while in Kinder’s Garden Walk, Edible Garden City teaches participants how to upcycle used plastic bottles into self-watering pots to grow beautiful herbs and edible flowers.
Free performance and Esplanade Commission The Rattle King, has Danny Yeo, Phang Kok Jun and Oliver Chong creating a giant 4.5m puppet performance, as it explores the awareness of sound in our environment. Despite being a giant rattler himself, the Rattle King ironically hates noise and sound, and is constantly finding ways to escape the noise that surrounds him! Instead of finding solace in his search for silence, he encounters different noisy soundscapes. The Rattle King eventually realises that he cannot escape from sound and noise, but he can co-exist with them and turn them into music.
Finally, in Alice’s Topsy Turvy Tea Party, a co-production with The Kueh Tutus, families will be able to explore how to interact and bond through the language of dance, in this picnic-style interactive dance experience that explores questions of friendship and belonging. Come dressed in your party best for all the fun!
As tough as things get, there is always room for creativity through the arts, as March On continues to innovate and extend a hand to children, families and artists to be inspired and engage in meaningful conversations, marking the start of something new and hopefully, producing many more wonderful childhood memories in audiences for years to come.
March On runs from 10th to 14th March 2021 at the Esplanade. Tickets and programme available here