Friday 24 April 2015

Singapore: Inside Out - Showcase of creative Singapore makes global debut in Beijing

Five-day event features performances, talks as part of festivities to mark SG50
By Esther Teo, China Correspondent In Beijing, The Straits Times, 23 Apr 2015

SINGAPOREAN playwright Joel Tan is interested in how people from different cultures identify with the struggles of local artists in a theatre piece he wrote as part of a global showcase of the city-state's creative talents.

His work, The Actor's Tour, made its debut yesterday as part of Singapore: Inside Out - a showcase of contemporary creative disciplines in Beijing's 751 D.Park art district.

The script of the performance, which consists of a series of monologues, is taken verbatim from interviews that the 28-year-old did with artists involved in the showcase beforehand. It is then performed by professional actors on stage.

"I want to see how people identify with making art in different cultures. We don't assume it's exactly the same, but hope that the stories told have some resonance with various audiences," said Mr Tan, who is staging his first overseas performance with Singaporean director Tan Kheng Hua.

Helmed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the five-day showcase that ends on Sunday is making its international debut in Beijing as part of celebrations for Singapore's 50th birthday.

Apart from local artists participating - such as chef Janice Wong, whose edible art installation will allow visitors to enjoy "laksa chocolate" - China and Singapore artists will collaborate in panel talks, live music showcases and other presentations.

The event will travel to London in June and New York in September, before returning to Singapore for its homecoming in November.

Minister for Manpower and Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who officiated at the event's launch, said he hoped the exhibition would allow "both foreigners and Singaporeans to view Singapore from a different perspective and to better understand the country".

"There are many layers to Singapore, whether state-sanctioned, state-sponsored or otherwise... It is very difficult to pigeonhole what Singapore is and what it is not.

"The range of (SG50) celebrations reflects the range of activities we relate to... Singapore: Inside Out was meant to be an effort to showcase something that's different," he said.

While there are occasionally tensions between the Government and the artistic circle, Mr Tan said it is important to recognise that these frictions are also "part of the story".

He added that the local art scene is thriving and, with many Singaporeans active in the art scenes in other countries, this is something to be proud of.

STB chief executive Lionel Yeo said Beijing was chosen as a venue for the showcase as it is "a media capital and the gateway to Greater China and north-east Asia". It was also a way to mark the 25th anniversary of Sino-Singapore ties this year.

"Many people here and around the world know Singapore as an efficient business hub and a financial centre, but the artistic and quirky sides of Singapore are less well known. Through this showcase, we hope to raise awareness and generate interest in this area," he said.

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