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TROJAN WOMEN

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MEDEA

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THE GATEKEEPER

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SPIAKING SINGLISH

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GULL BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH

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THE ARTIST’S VOICE

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CENTURY OF LIGHT

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LABYRINTHS
HIT LIST

Standout art

From Greek tragedies to Jason Wee's stellar solo - a round-up of the year's best in theatre, books and art.
Dec 9, 2017 5:50 AM

We're not Santa, but at BTWeekend, we've made our lists and checked them twice. Here then, is our pick of the most noteworthy people, events, spaces, and objects for 2017.

01. THEATRE

DRAGONFLIES
By Pangdemonium

Watching Dragonflies is like a reading an issue of The Economist from cover to cover: it is chock-full of urgent issues from immigration to xenophobia to climate change. Written by Stephanie Street and directed by Tracie Pang, it tells the story of a family whose lives are upended by the rise of hatred around the world.

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TROJAN WOMEN
By Ong Keng Sen and National Theatre of Korea

Ong boldly reimagined the 2,400-year-old Greek tragedy as an avant-garde Korean opera with pansori music, a gorgeously wretched-sounding vocal style that expresses the struggles of the women of Troy on the brink of enslavement.

FRAGO
By Checkpoint Theatre

Hard to love but important, Frago marks the debut of playwright Lucas Ho who's written a completely unvarnished portrait of reservist training. Directed by Huzir Sulaiman, some moments are funny, others completely dull. But there's never been a play about National Service as honest as this.

MEDEA
By Cake Theatre

With little fanfare, Cake Theatre led by Natalie Hennedige has been staging an electrifying retelling of one classic after another. After last year's Ophelia and Electra, Cake's Medea is another pitch-perfect post-modern hallucination, centred on a story of a jilted wife out for revenge.

MAIN2
By Teater Ekamatra

Writer-director Alin Mosbit brings all her powers to bear on this immensely satisfying revival of her play about six victims of violence. The issues are dark and depressing, but Alin makes her play strangely sexy and funny, with forays into game shows, soap operas, pop songs and even Swan Lake.

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES
By W!ld Rice

Not to take anything away from its fine pantomime Mama White Snake now playing, W!ld Rice's most powerful production this year is the revival of La Cage Aux Folles directed by Glen Goei. The comedy-musical about an "alternative family" clashing with a conservative family is made all the more potent with tighter direction and performances, the lilting vocals of Sean Ghazi, and a beautifully-orchestrated ending.

ART STUDIO
By Nine Years Theatre

Epic in scope and ambition, Nine Years Theatre's fine adaptation of Yeng Pway Ngon's novel faithfully condenses the decade-spanning story without sacrificing its emotional depths. Adapted and directed by Nelson Chia, it depicts the diverging fortunes of a group of artists over half a century.


02. BOOKS

THE GATEKEEPER
By Nuraliah Norasid

The debut of the year belongs to Nuraliah who tells the story of two Medusa sisters. Though it takes a while to take shape, the second half of the novel rewards you with its depiction of curious beasts and languages in a mythical city that looks a lot like Singapore.

SPIAKING SINGLISH
By Dr Gwee Li Sui

Perhaps no other book this year will make you laugh out loud like Gwee's spirited exploration of what makes Singlish Singlish - all written in Singlish, of course. Gwee, who holds a PhD in English Literature, even includes his own hand-drawn comic strips.

GULL BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH
By Boey Kim Cheng

Few Singapore novels in 2017 match the grace, depth and ambition of this. Boey, best known for poetry, writes in lyrical prose about one of China's greatest poets, Du Fu, who lived during the Tang Dynasty and struggled with the dynamics and moralities of being an artist.


03. ART

THE ARTIST'S VOICE
By Parkview Museum

Conceived by noted Hungarian curator Lorand Hegyi, our favourite art show of the year puts together 40 spectacular works from important artists such as Marina Abramovic, Liu Xiaodong, Jannis Kounellis, Bill Viola and Gilbert & George to examine the artists' unique and relevant perspectives of the world over the course of 50 years. On till March 2018.

CENTURY OF LIGHT
By National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore's biggest hit was its Yayoi Kusama show which drew more than 235,000 visitors. For our money though, we recommend the current Century of Light exhibition on 19th century art which features Impressionist works from Musee d'Orsay as well as a major survey of Raden Salleh (1811-1880) of Indonesia and Juan Luna (1857-1899) of the Philippines, two pioneering artists who helped changed the course of history.

LABYRINTHS
By Jason Wee at Yavuz Gallery

Jason Wee is why we need artists. His solo exhibition looks at the ubiquitous green steel fences that serve to demarcate and protect, but at the same time obstruct and obfuscate. Wee uses the fence to comment on various socio-political affairs in Singapore. While many local artists are content to experiment with material and form, Wee stays engaged with topical issues.

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