From puppet shows to ballet, here’s what’s on for family-friendly dance and theatre events in Singapore this June
Singapore may be feeling like it had its fill of great performing arts events, thanks to all that SIFA brought to town last month, but don’t let that fool you into thinking June is going to be a quiet one. We’ve trawled the guides and websites and there’s some great stuff on this month too, from world class puppetry to stunning ballets and orchestral magic. Here’s our top picks of what’s definitely “worth the effort” in June!
Click through the gallery to see our Top 6 picks!
Looking for more ways to keep the kids busy over June school holidays? Click here for our roundup of free and low-cost events!
Puppetry is an incredibly ancient form of theatre. It was first recorded back in the 5th Century BC in Ancient Greece, although many believe it to have begun far earlier than that, and it is an art form that is found in almost every society.
Whether it’s a Punch and Judy bashing, elegant shadow puppetry or a simple sock, handled well, puppets are magical and memorable. It has been proven that they aren’t just engaging and entertaining, they are incredibly effective in helping children to learn, too.
Act3 International has been working in the sphere of children’s theatre since 1994 and it has a great track record for exploring what Artistic Director Ruby Lim-Yang calls children’s “artistic appetite and imagination”. This year the company has programmed five original, international shows for children aged four months to 8 years old, and they all look incredibly cute. There’s even an immersive workshop if your little ones fancy creating their own creation to take home.
All the way from Argentina, Funny Puppetry is sure to be wonderful. The company who created it, Omar Alvarez Titeres Puppetry Arts Company, have received over thirty national and international awards for their work and are Argentinian puppet royalty. This show is described as a tribute to “the traditional art of puppetry and its greatest creators” and features body puppets, shadow puppets, dance, music and simple characters made from colourful fabrics, cardboard and feathers. All totally magical!
When: 5 – 9 June 2019
Timings: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: 10am & 4pm, Thursday and Friday: 9:30am & 11am
Where: Ngee Ann Auditorium, Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place, S179555
How much: $28 for tickets click on the link here
Best for: 3 to 8 years olds
For details on the other shows in the Festival click here!
Lead image and image above via Act3 International
Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) has built an enviable reputation for presenting and produced some great Shakespeare productions here in Singapore, from Shakespeare in the Park series, to Sam Mendes’ The Bridge Project.
Given its huge love of the Bard, this month its decided to screen three of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) biggest hits from the last few years. Whilst it’s arguably not live theatre, it really is the next best thing! The idea to film RSC productions in Stratford upon Avon and share them worldwide started in 2013 and has proved to be extraordinarily successful, literally taking Shakespeare from his hometown to a truly global audience.
On the first night you’ll be treated to The Merchant of Venice, which the Evening Standard wrote was “The RSC at the very top of its game.” The following night you can catch Hamlet, in which the young actor Paapa Essiedu is described by The Telegraph as “one of the most captivating Hamlets of the decade”. And it all wraps up with Othello, which The Guardian claims “makes history.” It’s hard to say which one to pick as will all undoubtedly be wonderful. If I could, I’d see them all!
When: 12-14 June 2019
Where: KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT, 20 Merbau Road, Singapore 239035
How much: $25 for tickets click here
Best for: 14+, students who are studying it, Shakespeare fans of all ages
Babar is one of those characters that it’s hard not to know and love! The charming little elephant who began as a simple bedtime story for two little boys in Paris is now a global icon. There are books about him, TV shows and posters and merchandise galore featuring many of the classic illustrations. However, I’ve never before heard of his story told through organ music!
The show is a collaboration between the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, one of Europe’s leading organists, Tom Bell, and the Singaporean actress, Oniatta Effendi. Bell is hailed as a musical pioneer, and his work has been described as “invigorating” by The Sunday Times. Some of the audience may recognise the show’s narrator, Effendi, as the presenter of Krayon, a MediaCorp children’s TV show.
This show looks set to be truly enchanting. Whether you go for the music, the story or simply the nostalgia of Babar, it’s definitely one that’s worth the effort, mamas!
When: 21 – 23 June 2019
Where: Victoria Concert Hall, 9 Empress Place, Singapore 179556
How much: $20 for tickets click on the link here
Best for: Children aged 6 and up
The Paris Opera Ballet was the birthplace of classical dance, with origins tracing back over more than 300 years! It is now regarded as being one of the four most preeminent ballet companies of the world. It rarely travels to Asia and so, for any dance lover or budding ballerina, to have them here as part of The Esplanade’s da:ns series 2019 is incredibly exciting. Tutus at the ready, mamas!
The company is performing work from three legendary composers. The first is Blake Works 1 by William Forsythe, a renowned risk-taker who had been hailed as ballet’s premier deconstructionist, postmodernist and a living legend. Blake Works 1 is described as a love letter to ballet; it is poetic, joyous and hopeful with soulful ballads over electronic keyboard and syncopated percussion by English musician, James Blake. The second section moves to three duets for lovers by choreographer Jerome Robbins performed to Chopin, and the third is a large ensemble work by Crystal Pite called The Seasons’ Canon with 54 dancers performing an avant-garde update of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
Given the calibre of all who have contributed to this show, every element is likely to be exceptional so whether you are a ballet connoisseur or not, mamas, give this one a try! If you want to get a feel of it all before you go, have a quick look at a trailer…I defy any mama not to be in awe!
When: 21 – 23 June 2019
Timings: Fri at 8pm, Sat at 3pm and 8pm, Sun at 3pm
Where: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981
How much: $70 – 180 for tickets click here
Best for: 12 and up, aspiring ballerinas
Image via Facebook; “Blake Works I by William Forsythe”, by Julien Benhamou
Storytelling seems like such a simple thing, we all do it in or own different ways and with varying effect. Done well it can be incredibly powerful — some may even say transformative. And it’s not just about bedtime stories anymore (although that is undoubtedly very important), but the techniques are being used in corporate board rooms and global marketing campaigns, too.
StoryFest is a beautiful little festival that celebrates the best of the best from around the world and it has grown considerably in stature and status over the last few years. This year a prestigious line up of artists are in Singapore’s Art House hosting workshops and performances for both young and old to enjoy, and it looks set to be a fascinating few days!
I’d highly recommend looking thorough the full program to see all that’s on offer but one that stands out as being worth the effort is The Storyteller’s Fire by David Novak from America. He has been a storyteller for over 30 years and his career is littered with accolades and titles including Director of Story Arts for Disney and recipient of the Circle of Excellence for Storytelling. He is known for having a true gift for bring ancient tales, classic myths and original stories to life and enthral audiences of all ages.
In Novak’s show you’ll hear how Johnny Appleseed met bears with some fun audience interaction along the way, including finger-play, planting a seed and chanting ‘Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum!’ It sounds like it will be quite a giggle for the whole family and must be made for a happily ever after!
When: 23 June 2019 (Festival runs 21-24 June)
Where: Play Den, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Ln, Singapore 179429
How much: $15 for tickets click here
Best for: 5 and above, all the family
Addressing #metoo issues on stage seems to be all the rage in Singapore at the moment. Last month Pandemonium’s This is what happens to pretty girls and Checkpoint Theatre’s Displaced Persons Welcome Dinner brought some very challenging topics to the fore. And now it’s Wag The Dog’s turn with How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel.
Interestingly, whereas Pangdemonium and Checkpoint’s productions were new works, this play was written over 20 years ago in 1997 (and won the Pulitzer Prize the following year), but the issues it raises about sexual abuse are arguably the most confronting of them all. Although it is written with great sensitivity and humour, the company does stress it can be “uncomfortable to watch.”
The story is set in 1960s rural America and is about a teenage girl coming of age as she navigates a complicated relationship with her aunt’s husband. Variety magazine described the play as “a potent and convincing comment on a taboo subject” and The Washington Post said, “in the #MeToo era, it’s a live grenade onstage.”
Vogel is known for selecting sensitive and difficult issues, but she manages to spin them with a dramaturgy that’s been described as “creative, highly imaginative, and brutally honest.” This show may be rather risky and uncomfortable in places, mamas, but sharing things like these using theatre is incredibly powerful. Conversations are started, experiences are shared, and it all makes a positive contribution to movements for change.
When: 21 – 29 June 2019
Timings: 7:30pm; Saturday matinees at 3pm
Where: Drama Centre Black Box, 100 Victoria Street Level 5, National Library Building, Singapore 188064
How much: $39 for tickets, click on the link here
Best for: 16+, mamas’ night out
Image via Wag the Dog Facebook