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All The Highlights Of The Singapore International Festival Of Arts 2018

Singapore’s biggest and longest-running arts festival is back for its 41st edition, moved up from its usual slot in August to end April/May (April 26 – May 12) and with a new director in tow – Guarav Kripalani, who is also artistic director at Singapore Repertory Theatre.

If you were a regular, you’ll notice that the festival has been cut down to roughly 3 weeks, compared to nearly 3 months for the older editions. Under Ong Keng Sen, the festival became known for a more cerebral, boundary-pushing slant but Kripalani reportedly aims to broaden the appeal of SIFA (Singapore International Festival of Arts), according to an interview he did with SG magazine.

“The end goal for me is that this cannot be a festival (over my three years) to only be for the dedicated arts lover. I would really at the end of the three years like to say we’ve broadened hearts and minds, and grown the audience of people who love the arts in Singapore.”

That sounds good to us: at the end of the day, art that only reaches a select group of “elites” doesn’t better the overall level of art appreciation/education in Singapore. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting shows to catch:

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1984 by George Orwell
It may be nearly 70 years since George Orwell’s seminal book 1984 debuted (it was published in 1949), but the classic dystopian work has seen a resurgence in sales lately, thanks to the likes of Donald Trump and his crazy antics. Here’s a quote from the book: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” Familiar much? The now everyday phrase Big Brother is watching can also be credited to 1984 – a term which refers to constant surveillance by the establishment. In a world where Orwell (accurately) predicted so many things to come to pass, this theatrical adaption created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan is a must-watch. More details here. 26 – 29 Apr,  Thu, 8pm Fri, 7.45pm Sat & Sun, 3pm & 8pm Esplanade Theatre 0600
The death penalty remains a highly contentious issue in Singapore and perhaps the most high-profile work to touch on the topic remains local filmmaker Boo Junfeng’s well-received Apprentice (2016). 0600 is an interactive work by a newly-formed arts collective called GroundZ-0 that invites the public to retrace the steps of some of Singapore’s most high-profile criminal cases held at the old Supreme Court (now the National Gallery). Immersing yourself into the steps of everyone involved in the cases -“victims and their family members,  death row inmates and their families, defendant lawyer, prosecutor, prison warden and witnesses” – 0600 might just change your view on the death penalty. More details here Fri 27 Apr, 4 May, 11 May: 9.30pm, 10.45pm Sat 28 Apr, 5 May, 12 May: 7.30pm, 8.45pm, 10pm Sun 29 Apr, 6 May: 7.30pm, 8.45pm Tue 1 May, 8 May: 7.30pm, 8.45pm Wed 2 May, 9 May: 7.30pm, 8.45pm Thu 3 May, 10 May: 7.30pm, 8.45pm, 10pm National Gallery Singapore Meeting point: Beside the Holding cells, Supreme Court Wing Level 1 I've Got A Little Problem
High-profile Chinese photographer Ren Hang took his life last March at the age of 29 after reportedly battling repeated bouts of depression. I’ve Got A Little Problem, a documentary by Chinese director Zhang Ximing, looks at the optimistic side of Ren Hang’s photography, which was known for a raw, lo-fi aesthetic. More details here. 28 Apr, Sat, 7.30pm – 8.15pm Screening Room, Festival House Enemy of the People
Here’s the plot of the play helmed by celebrated German director Thomas Ostermeier: a doctor discovers that the water supply in a spa town has been contaminated by industrial waste, but when he tries to bring the issue up to light, the backlash by the town’s residents is considerable as their livelihoods depend on spa-going tourists. It sounds familiar to the ongoing water crisis in the American town of Flint, where ultra high levels of lead have been found in its water supply – water came out of taps looking brown, literally. In any case, Enemy of the People has been very well-received in cities such as Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Melbourne and Seoul; it looks to be a hit in Singapore as well. More details here 11 & 12 May,  Fri & Sat, 8pm Esplanade Theatre Sodade by Cirque Rouages
An aerial circus propped between two gigantic wheels (with a 21m-long tightrope cable, to boot), Sodade is apparently a sentimental ode to life. Performed by two musicians playing, singing and acting while traversing the tightrope, it’s a marvellous feat to witness for that alone. More details here 27 – 29 Apr, Fri – Sun Fri, 7.30pm & 9.30pm Sat & Sun, 7pm & 9.30pm  Empress Lawn Like this? Check out the 3 stylish local eco-friendly brands to wear for Earth Day, the new Singapore art spaces that aren’t your typical galleries, and why the Doraemon x Uniqlo collection might be the cutest collaboration ever.