6 must-see acts at SIFA (Singapore International Festival of Arts) 2022

6 must-see acts at SIFA (Singapore International Festival of Arts) 2022

Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) is back with an exciting line-up of international artists, with performances drawing on stellar talent in music, film, visual arts, dance, theatre, and fashion. Here is The A List’s choice of six events not to miss at SIFA 2022.


SIFA’s opening commission, MEPAAN, is a visually arresting sonic journey created by Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Sarawak-based community-led arts management company The Tuyang Initiative, reaching back to the sources of spiritual and cultural expressions embedded in the cultures of Southeast Asian in a stunning fusion of indigenous and orchestral music.

MEPAAN is performed on 20 to 22 May, featuring costumes by local fashion designer Max Tan.

Get your tickets for MEPAAN here.

2. Ceremonial Enactments

Ceremonial Enactments by MAX.TAN, Nadi Singapura, and Bhaskar’s Arts Academy draws from customs and rites within Singapore’s diverse cultures, weaving together three festival commissions into a single, seamless performance. 

Staged at the Esplanade Theatre on 21 and 22 May, Ceremonial Enactments flips conventional notions of staging and the audience-to-performance relationship within a traditional proscenium theatre. In Act I, the MAX.TAN label opens proceedings with a fashion-inspired performance inspired by Chinese and Southeast Asia birth rituals. Act II stars percussion ensemble Nadi Singapura interpreting the grandest ceremony within the Malay community – the wedding, or majlis persandingan.

Enjoy gorgeous costumes, dance, and traditional Malay percussion rhythms. In Act III, Bhaskar’s Arts Academy performs ancient temple dance rituals. Choreographed by Cultural Medallion recipient, the late Mrs Santha Bhaskar, and her daughter Meenakshy Bhaskar, the dancers pay obeisance to the nine celestial custodians who guard the eight directions and the centre of the Earth against the backdrop of a dramatic set designed by Randy Chan of Zarch Collaboratives Architectural Studios.

Get your tickets for Ceremonial Enactments here.

3. The Once and Future

The Once and Future is a unique collaboration between one of Singapore’s leading filmmakers, NAC Young Artist Award recipient Yeo Siew Hua, and musicians from one of the world’s greatest orchestras, the Berliner Philharmoniker.

This expanded cinema experience, set in the not-so-distant future, contemplates the human journey as humanity looks towards planetary exodus to escape extinction. Look forward to this performance at Esplanade Theatre, from 3 to 5 Jun.

Get your tickets for The Once and Future here.

4. Bangsawan Gemala Malam

Ethnic minority theatre company Teater Ekamatra stages Bangsawan Gemala Malam, a merry remake of Shakespeare’s fantastical romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, drawing on the traditions of Bangsawan opera and Nusantara.

In its golden era in the 1930s and 1940s, Bangsawan, the Malay form of street opera, was a popular entertainment serving up engaging drama, lively music, and dance. Now, at SIFA 2022, you can see Shakespeare reimagined through this colourful Malay lens at Victoria Theatre from 2 to 4 June.

Get your tickets for Bangsawan Gemala Malam here.

5. Devil’s Cherry

A couple in search of their true selves and on the run from each other is the subject of this tale of Singaporeans on the open road, and lost, in the vastness of Australia. When these lost souls stumble across the Devil’s path they seem like easy victims for the Dark One, but in Debbie and Mo, the Devil might have met his match.

Devil’s Cherry sees the return to the stage of Kaylene Tan and Paul Rae, formerly of cult Singapore performance company, spell#7. They bring their powerful presence and trademark poetry riffs to the dramatic backdrop of the Pasir Panjang Power Station in a hallucinatory collision of beauty, brutality, and terror.

The array of talent behind this show is impressive, including some of Singapore’s most charismatic actors Lim Kay Siu, Neo Swee Lin, new generation actor Elizabeth Sergeant Tan, and Mohiniyattam-trained Indian-Australian queer dancer Raina Peterson. Visuals are by Andy Lim and Wong Chee Wai, with a soundscape to fabled Australian songsmith, C.W. Stoneking.

Get your tickets for Devil’s Cherry here.

6. The Neon Hieroglyph

Turner Prize award-winning British artist Tai Shani brings an exciting new iteration of her film, The Neon Hieroglyph, to SIFA 2022. This is more of a filmic performance than a standard movie, as Shani unleashes her unconventional mind to tell a speculative history of ergot, a fungus that grows on common grains that was linked to cases of mass hallucination in Europe.

Shani intersperses psychedelic vignettes and historical narrative telling tales and imaginings on ergot poisoning outbreaks over the course of 450 years in Alicudi, one of seven islands that make up Italy’s Aeolian Islands.

Get tickets for The Neon Hieroglyph here.

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