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Seeing the darkness in a new light
OUR tiny island is certainly no stranger to festivals anymore. Revellers can find themselves lounging on the grassy knolls of the Gardens by the Bay enjoying the music at St Jerome's Laneway Festival, taking advantage of the vast array of delectable deals during the Singapore Food Festival, or even rubbing shoulders with the haute couture-clad crowd at the Audi Fashion Festival.
Soon to return for its eighth instalment is the Singapore Night Festival that caters to the more nocturnal among us, and will feature over 100 performances and light art installations.
The festival's creative director, Christie Chua, says: "What is very exciting and unique about festivals at night is that you get to see spaces very differently. When you go to a place you frequent during the day once the sun has set, it'll have a different feel and ambience, more so because only certain parts will be illuminated."
Having been involved with the festival since 2011, the 36-year-old is proud of how far it's come. She says: "This festival has always been about demonstrating how art, heritage and culture can inject vibrancy into the heart of the city, and we try to be that platform for talent at every stage of their career, from emerging all the way to world-class. Being one of the largest outdoor arts festivals in Singapore, it's become a big draw for everyone."
The first edition of the Singapore Night Festival attracted some 100,000 visitors. Attendance has since swelled to over 500,000 people last year, and Ms Chua hopes to attract similar numbers this year, especially with an extension of the festival grounds, which cover the National Museum of Singapore, Fort Canning Park, Armenian Street, Singapore Art Museum and National Design Centre. The new areas include Cheng Yan Place and the Deck at Prinsep Street.
She says: "It's quite a huge area we're covering this year, and it does take a while for anyone to walk around. I think it does help that we work so closely with our Bras Basah-Bugis precinct because it encompasses everyone in the vicinity. It's organic, not as if we just plonk ourselves in the middle of nowhere and hope people come in."
The festival ground isn't the only expansion that's been made this year. At Cathay Green, a new exhibit will be put up, titled the House of . . . featuring exclusively local artists and will take on the theme of that year's festival. This year, the House of Glamour, based on the overall theme of "Glitz and Glamour" will feature acts such as ventriloquism, puppetry, stand-up comedy, music, and improvisation theatre.
Another new feature is "Behind the Nights", a series of interactive workshops and talks by the artists involved in the installations and performances at the festival. It'll allow them to share about the intricacies of their work, the processes of creation, and the meaning behind the pieces.
Ms Chua explains: "It's not only important to showcase these talent, but to also be a platform that allows for discourse."
Other notable events include a fire and LED-based performance by homegrown performance act Starlight Alchemy which have been involved with the festival since 2013, an aerial spectacle called Gardens of Angels by Belgium's Theater Tol, and a special mapping projection to commemorate Singapore's 50th birthday called the Anooki Celebrate Singapore and features graphically designed miniature Inuits.
While there are other night-time festivals around the world, the Singapore Night Festival remains one-of-a-kind here. On its unique positioning and programming, Ms Chua explains: "We've managed to not only look at visual arts installations but also showcase performing arts groups, and we showcase both local and international talent."
- The Singapore Night Festival takes place on the weekends of Aug 21-22 and Aug 28-29 at the Bras Basah-Bugis Precinct from 7pm to 2am. A full line-up of events will be released closer to the date. More information is available at www.nightfest.sg