Our Stories in Singapore Arts Festival
19 Mar 2012 | Article by Max | Photo by Ping
I’ve been wondering how Singapore Arts Festival positions itself in the local scene, among so many arts-related festivals that have mushroomed in recent years. With its title being THE arts festival of Singapore, I had the impression that it carries a role of uplifting Singapore’s image as a leading ‘arts city’ in the international arts scene. And, in order to achieve this goal, the materialistic side of me led me to assume the festival has to attract as much popular arts performances and as large audience as possible.
The themes and direction of the festival in the past three years challenged my on-going perception. Between You and Me, I Want To Remember, and this year’s Our Lost Poems, these themes together with the selected performances that look bold and non-mainstream are, in my view, not pushing the festival towards the direction of high popularity.
In a special preview session of the festival that took place on last Friday night at Goodman Arts Centre, I cleared my doubts when I got the chance to talk to Low Kee Hong, the festival’s general manager. He is the keyman in driving the organizing team of the festival on the path of completing the full statement made up of the three themes: “Between you and me, I want to remember our lost poems.”
This trilogy is about our stories. It is about the stories of the Singapore community. Contrary to the recent discussions on who’s eligible to enjoy the benefits provided by the authorities, when the people are probably ‘classified’ into citizens, residents, foreign talents and foreign workers, the concept of the Singapore community includes everyone living on this tiny island. While each person has a unique story, the physical boundaries of this island/city/country make these stories gather here and form a unique collection.
Low said, while he enjoys the entertaining Broadway-style performances that have never been lacking in Singapore, he feels it is more important to use the available resources to serve the people. In the context of Singapore Arts Festival, it is to remind the people of the stories that have been taking place here. This effort is important in this society that is undergoing fast-pace economical and physical development, because somehow the spiritual side doesn’t go in sync.
In this preview session we were treated to a screening of Young@Heart, a documentary film about a group of old folks singing in a chorus. It is an ordinary story, yet it carries so much energy and puts across so much love and passion in a simple but powerful way.
This enlightened me. We all are ordinary people. We live our ordinary lives everyday. But our lives are made up of hearts and souls, blood and sweat, these make our lives meaningful and full of energy. These make our lives powerful stories to be kept and told.
The Singapore Arts Festival is not (just) about great and grand performances. It is about the meaningful and powerful life stories of each and everyone of us. The ordinary us. So, if you care about your own stories, or those around you, check out the long list of paid and free events in the festival. You can expect to start discovering your own stories.
Oh, by the way, the Young@Heart chorus will be performing in this festival too. Check out the full line-up of programmes at www.singaporeartsfest.com.