Taking place between 10 and 26 March, the NUS Arts Festival is back for a new edition. Titled Spaces Between, this year’s festival examines the idea of liminal spaces – the uncomfortable yet exciting unknown that we encounter as we transition between phases and states. While liminal spaces can bring discomfort and ambiguity, they also present opportunities for growth and change. In a world of diverse and divided views, the NUS Arts Festival seeks to convey how art can build connection, and demonstrate that there is more to gain in the Spaces Between.
As the highlight of NUS’ performing arts calendar, the NUS Arts Festival draws artists and collaborators from across campus, and beyond. It is known for conceptually challenging pieces that speak to both the creative and academic output of NUS. This year’s Festival features over 20 performances, art installations and events, and involves more than 700 NUS students, alumni, faculty, staff, and collaborators.
Notable productions in the NUS Arts Festival 2023 line-up include a series of shows helmed by industry veterans and prominent NUS alumni. These include theatre actress Jo Tan (Law, Class of 2004) writes and performs in one-woman play The Future Show, based on an original concept by Canadian performance artist Deborah Pearson. Directed by award-winning playwright Chong Tze Chien (Theatre Studies, Class of 1999), The Future Show tells the “true story” of the rest of one performer’s life, starting from the end of the performance and ending on the day they die. This play has been adapted for Singapore audiences and draws from Jo’s own experiences as an NUS alumna.
Contemporary classical pianist and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Artist Fellow Churen Li (Music, Class of 2015) collaborates with homegrown soundscape artist and music producer evanturetime to present MOONRISE. Taking inspiration from the moon, the audience can expect a curated playlist of music traversing classical and pop genres, complemented by an immersive audio-visual experience featuring work by digital effects artist Prako.
The Festival’s opening show, Inter/change, represents and unusual and unexpected intersection of art forms and cultures, pairing NUS Chinese Dance and NUS Indian Instrumental Ensemble (IIE). Inspired by the historic Silk Route linking China and India, the concept for the production was conceived through a three-way partnership between the artistic director of NUS Chinese Dance, Jenny Neo, the dance choreographer of NUS Chinese Dance, Xiao Jing, and NUS IIE’s music director Nawaz Mirajkar.
Essentially Macbeth, a play-within-a-play which questions the relevance of the arts in our everyday lives, is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between NUS Chinese Drama and NUS Chinese Orchestra. Following the lives of young graduates who reconnect with theatre after a prolonged absence, Essentially Macbeth is directed by Singapore theatre veteran and NUS alumna Judy Ngo (Theatre Studies, Class of 1996), with an original score composed by NUS alumnus Phang Kok Jun (Music, Class of 2015) and conducted by Moses Gay, Associate Conductor of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.
Pengabdian Batin (Inner Enslavement) is a contemporary Malay Dance production led by NUS Ilsa Tari in collaboration with NUS Dikir Barat, that aims to deconstruct the stigma surrounding Intimate Partner Violence amongst the Malay/Muslim community. Choreographed by Era Dance Theatre founder Osman Abdul Hamid, this production is notable for its unique fusion of two ethnic art forms – Malay Dance and Dikir Barat (a style of Malay choral singing) – on stage.
End of the Line, presented by NUS Stage and directed by award-winning playwright and NUS alumnus Chong Tze Chien (Theatre Studies, Class of 1999), touches on the subject of mortality through the format of a jukebox musical. The production was informed by NUS Stage’s dialogues with NUS lecturer Dr Mohamed Effendy Bin Abdul Hamid from the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, who teaches a module on Death and Dying in Southeast Asia.
Other events in the line-up span dance, film, classical and electronic music and more. This March, go back to school, and educate yourself with the creativity displayed by students and alumni of NUS, as they show you how arts shine a light on the Spaces Between.
NUS Arts Festival 2023 – Spaces Between runs from 10th to 26th March 2023 at NUS. More information available from their website.
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