Come March, and the first school holidays of the year will be upon us. And with that comes the next edition of the Esplanade’s March On, an annual arts festival aimed at younger audience members. This time around, the festival will examine issues such as safe spaces for children, how children see themselves and overcome difficulties, and how the community can help support that.
A total of three commissioned works will be presented during the festival, surrounding the theme of identity and how children navigate their environment. In the Esplanade Theatre, The Beginning of Everything follows the story of six-year-old Shan and her explorations of a new world—school. This is the third work in a series of commissions directed by Edith Podesta for March On and this year, she is joined by playwright Michelle Tan.
6-year-old Shan has always wanted to be an explorer. In the comfort of her home surrounded by books, paper and pencils, she creates worlds filled with her favourite things and animals that dream. Soon, she is about to discover a new world that she has never encountered before—school. The work hopes to be a companion for children to find the courage and empower them with tools to cope with unfamiliar situations and new environments. The play draws from images and drawings shared by children in Singapore through organised workshops, and invites children and adults to have a conversation about their own fears of growing up and navigating identity.
In Changeling by Void Deck Games, the immersive theatre and gaming company updates their 2022 work Monster Hunt in this LARP (Live Action Role Playing) experience for audiences eight and up. theatrical roleplaying game where children embark on an adventure searching for Nadim, a runaway boy who mysteriously disappeared twenty years ago. Players must walk between worlds, crossing into the fantastical domain of the Bunian fairies, a dark mirror of ancient Singapura ruled by Sultan Maharaja Mambang, the monstrous monarch of the Misty Straits. Be prepared to solve puzzle quests, roleplay with colourful characters, and take up arms against a living nightmare.
The third commissioned work is Come Back Home, a two-year distance-based collaboration between Australian and Singaporean artists, featuring renowned children’s theatre company from Australia, Polyglot Theatre. Directed by Sue Giles, Come Back Home is a participatory and immersive experience for children and intergenerational audiences. Inspired by the community usage of HDB void decks in Singapore, this performance will take place at the Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade where participants will follow the story of a lost child.
March On also welcomes Second Hand Dance Company from UK, with their work We Dance, We Play, We Touch, an interactive dance experience for young families. The four dancers in We Touch, We Play, We Dance weave around the space, inviting babies and children to join them in a warm-hearted and playful performance. With music mixed live by a DJ, the dancers respond to the children, guiding them through a series of exchanges and encounters, with high fives, hugs, and dancing. Created by Second Hand Dance, We Touch, We Play, We Dance is a mesmerising, engaging and fun performance for children under 3.
Finally, March On provides workshops and space to support a child’s support network, as well as room for ideation and feedback for artistic practices, with events conducted by Somayoke and Artfold. At this integral developmental stage in their lives, children need to march on with tenacity and hopeful hearts, and with March On, audiences of all ages can find ways and means to help children grow up with the arts.
March On runs from 9th to 19th March 2023 at the Esplanade. Tickets and full programme available here
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