Summaries of the evening performances with artist statements. Please see the schedule page for performance timings and artists page for their bios.
The Radio Show
All day, ‘live’ in the evening.
Jacklyn Kuah with all performers.
A multi-lingual ‘radio station’ that will air only during this event. Playing songs compiled by resident’s requests, stories and interviews of residents and business in the area. In the evenings the station will go ‘live’ in a talkshow format on-stage.
A six episode radio play about a time-travelling majie has been written and will be performed ‘live’ on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Sound is something that I have always been interested in. I had a chance to delve into broadcast radio a couple of years ago, which made me realize its power. You could be listening to radio anytime, anywhere, walking, working, driving or even sleeping. So much so that you feel that the sound from the speaker is your friend.
Language is a very important part of our cultural heritage and dialects play a very important part. These radio programs will be in multi-lingual because I am sure that is what this place is about, a little ‘cosmopolitan town’.
I will be leaving Singapore to work in another country in a couple of months. I am starting to feel the kind of excitement and anxiety which I think my ancestors who came from the other parts of the world felt as they embarked on their journeys to come here many decades ago.
Sago Lane 硕莪巷
P7:1SMA with Steven Ang.
With P7:1SMA’s distinct style the stories of the death houses of Sago Lane are re-imagined through dance and song. Musician and Performer Steven Ang will accompany them as part of this collaboration. The performance travels through the Sago Lane HDB block where the shophouses once stood, into the adjoining the food centre and finally out onto Kreta Ayer Square.
I am intrigued by Mr Kok’s stories about critically ill Samsui women who stayed in the second level of shophouses in Sago Lane. Funeral parlours occupied the lower level. Known as death houses, there were so many lined Sago Lane that it was called the street of death.
To me, this creates a poignant image of a Samsui woman waiting readily to meet Death on her own accord.
Mr Kok also shared stories and personal experiences of other significant souls who frequented Sago Lane, coolies, Ah-ma, socialites, businessmen etc.. Players of a necessary role in Singapore’s development, yet seemingly forgotten at present. I feel that a great sense of courage existed amongst these souls , this has been my creative point of departure. A trigger to dig into history and discuss memories of their lives. By evoking a deep sense of spirituality though this site-specific work. I wish to invite onlookers to examine a grey void in the history of Sago Lane in Singapore.
Our Collaboration with Steven Ang, as both musician and performer, has been pivotal. The insights he shared of his family’s former business that sold funeral paper offerings, explaining chinese funeral processions and crafting soundscapes is the heartbeat for this work. Our recurring motif is the internal tension that may exist in the souls’ spirit and mind as they light their way and journey to the afterlife.
-Norhaizad Adam /Artistic Director and performer.
Cantonese and Mandarin Oldies Sing-Along/Performance
A performance of Cantonese and Mandarin songs familiar to the residents of Chinatown with a sing-along segment.
As a lover of music of a bygone era, I would like to present a set of songs that the residents of Kreta Ayer can identify with in an intimate, acoustic setting. Growing up with Cantonese grandparents I listen to these songs time and time again as the soundtrack of my childhood; getting to experience them these days in my singing or teaching brings me comfort as well. It is my pleasure to share this music with the seniors of Kreta Ayer who have contributed to the building of Singapore. I hope it will be an event that they will enjoy.
The People, The Community & Our Selves
SA will organise a series of events and performances. A karaoke session with residents, their own improvised performances based on Chinatown and lead Open Art Jams.
As a musical collective that experiments and improvises on the medium of ethnic Chinese instruments, we have been searching for our inner soul while challenging the constraints in which systems, environment and tradition have imbued on us. The soul of Kreta Ayer has suffered the same way. Thus, we explore in our works – 1) The People – insider/outsider; intruder/inhabitant relations; 2) The Community – old and new, young and old; 3) Our Selves – bringing young people’s art into the space.
Lim Jun Jie (Jey)
A roaming physical theatre performance
I spent a great deal of my childhood here in Chinatown, People’s Park where my parents have run a business of selling women’s clothes since I was 5 years old.
Now, in my late-20s. I can’t recall everything about how it used to be, but I remembered it being MRT-less, the place was much cleaner, had lesser tourists and people looked happier.
This project came in and made me feel like a kid in a Cat shelter. (I love cats). It shook me and pushed me to get answers to the all questions I have always wanted to ask about the people of Chinatown and their stories. Why they do what they do and why are they the way they are?
Did I get to ask everything? Nope.
I use physical theatre as my bridge to the world. My performance is a response to the interviews that I had collected, stories I have heard from my mother, people and incidents I had witnessed on the streets
‘Memories’ and ‘loneliness’ became the main themes of my work. I have merged all the stories and people into one character – The Garbage Man. He collects plastic bags and each night the plastics retell him the stories he once lived and breathed.
“I want to trace my life back to its most distant origins. More so than anything else, I long to return to where I’ve come from.” – Kazuo Ohno
Game of Fortune
An experiential theatre performance through the Pop-up Noise: Soul Searching set. Connecting the work of 5 commissioned artists through storytelling.
In this ‘work’, I try to explore disappearing spaces and livelihoods by trying to establish deep connections between stories, space and spectator.
Here, you will be brought from one station to the next. Each station has a particular activity to partake in. Either you will leave it to destiny or you shall decide for yourself, I believe in empowering you with choice to explore and decide the path that is best for you.
A path through this Game Of Fortune.
Intimacy is not simply proximity or scale, but in the exploration of smaller stories and memories. A start in making visible of what is already invisible.
As you journey between different ‘memory stops’, I hope you encounter gems of what old Chinatown offered then. I also hope you will encounter the spaces of different artists and see what Chinatown has offered them.
Cassandra Koh and Lim Meng Jiat
人。偶。goes back to the root of art – inspiration, which comes from one’s surroundings; in this case, the people who makes up the community acts as the basis.
While observing the Kreta Ayer community, Cassandra and Meng Jiat came together to explore the dying art of puppetry with the need to indentify an icon for Chinatown. They enlisted the help of Jasmine Xie Huilin to hold a puppetry workshop with the Chinatown residents at Kreta Ayer Senior Activity Centre.
They were encouraged to decorate the puppets as they wish.
These puppets represent the people in the crowd, each carrying an unheard story. The public will also be encouraged to contribute to the making of the puppets during the event of Pop-up Noise: Soul Searching. Throughout the program, puppets created by the public will be seen roaming around Kreta Ayer Square to engage with the crowd.