Arts Preview Theatre

Preview: Flipside 2023 by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

In the upcoming May/June school holidays, the Esplanade will once again be organising the annual Flipside festival, where the performing arts centre will be playing host to a plethora of local and international circus, comedy, physical theatre and puppetry acts. Running from 26th May to 4th June 2023, Flipside is set to celebrate the lighter side of the arts, and put a smile on attendees’ faces as they indulge in all the festival has to offer.

Chimpanzee. Photo Credit: Richard Termine

For the first time since the pandemic, the festival presents a bumper crop of international artists from seven countries, performing alongside artists from Singapore. This year, puppetry is set to take centre stage with two theatre productions that debunk the idea that this art form is ‘just for kids’. In Chimpanzee (USA), watch as a chimpanzee reminisces about the comfort, curiosity and freedom she had growing up in a human family, a contrast to her bleak present-day reality in a biomedical facility.

Famous Puppet Death Scenes. Photo Credit: AD Zyne.

In Famous Puppet Death Scenes (Canada), The Old Trout Puppet Workshop presents a heart-wrenching parade of theatrical demises, and forces us to confront our own thoughts and fears on mortality, all through skilled puppetry.

Seagulls. Photo Credit: Daniell Flood

Puppets also appear outdoors too in the form of roving Seagulls (Australia) by Snuff Puppets. Often seen as a nuisance, these lovable, larger-than-life scavengers will win your hearts even as they interrupt your conversation or try to steal your food. As they roam the Esplanade Waterfront, you might see them as invaders of our spaces. But perhaps we invaded their natural habitats first, leaving them to adapt for survival.

We see the impact of urbanisation in the way we play as well. In Circus Park (Taiwan), circus meets makeshift playground, as a group of acrobats improvise games with everyday objects and invite you to re-imagine play that transcends age and rigid functionality. Circus Park subverts existing stereotypes regarding the use of everyday objects. The familiar space of a playground is used as the starting point of the story, connecting memories and inviting audiences to freely imagine and share an adventure in this “circus park” filled with creativity. 


Flipside also celebrates the imaginative world of clowning, physical comedy and street arts. Be inspired by the creative absurdity of street artists in My Dream (South Korea), where a shy clown invites you into his whimsical world of tricks and contraptions; Circus Olympics (South Korea), where two jugglers pit their skills against each other in an epic showdown, and Bakeke (France), as one man attempts to manoeuvre and play his way around his many buckets.

Control Freak. Photo Credit: Mario Abreu

In Control Freak (Israel), we meet a quirky character who is bent on controlling his audiences through his many self-made, wearable gadgets. He invites them onto his stage to be part of his hilarious, self-orchestrated show. As he interacts with the audience in awkward and amusing ways, he eventually wins over both audience and technology, playing intricate live music while simultaneously performing circus skills, manipulating lights and performing real-time video editing.   

Aerial Open Stage. Photo Credit: Rogan Yeoh

Flipside continues to be a key platform for Singapore’s circus and aerial arts community, and following the success of the annual Aerial Open Stage showcase, Circus Open Stage is here to feature ground circus practitioners performing short routines. Featuring 13 of Singapore’s most talented aerialists, this performance promises a night of high-flying feats. Watch in awe as they defy gravity with breathtaking performances on apparatus such as the hoop, hammock, pole, and silks.  

Bornfire Circus. Photo Credit: Rogan Yeoh

With so much to experience at Flipside, any and every audience member can come discover the whimsical side of the arts, accessing offbeat humour and wondrous acts from around the world. Come fire up your imagination with Flipside at the Esplanade, as it returns this May.

Flipside 2023 runs from 26th May to 4th June 2023 at the Esplanade. Full programme and tickets available here

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