Celebrating Children’s Day (7 Oct) and the arts groups that celebrate them
Many of us remember Children’s Day as a combination of a few things: a school holiday, treats from adults, and maybe even teachers going through the effort of putting on performances in the school hall.
While Children’s Day is often an occasion for young ones to be given treats and gifts, the day actually finds its genesis in promoting children’s welfare. For this reason, the idea of a World Children’s Day was seeded in 1954. It is now celebrated on 20 Nov to commemorate the date in 1959 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on children’s rights.
Singapore has celebrated Children’s Day since 1961 and for many years, it was marked on 1 Oct, before the Ministry of Education moved it to the first Friday of October in 2012.
In the spirit of Children’s Day, The A List highlights three groups in Singapore that help to nurture children in the arts and provide them opportunities to build confidence, communicate effectively, and explore their creativity. Read until the end for a little bonus nugget!
1. ACT 3
ACT 3 is one of Singapore’s pioneers in creating an environment in the arts for the young. It began almost four decades ago in 1984, when its trio of founders, Ruby Lim-Yang, Jasmin Samat Simon and R. Chandran, put on three-man plays.
Both companies provide plenty of opportunities to introduce the magic of drama to the young ones and also involve them in the creative process. ACT 3 International’s Drama Academy has programmes that cater to children as young as 18 months, while ACT 3 Theatrics has programming for children and youths with special needs and has also staged original theatre productions with various groups.
ACT 3 International continues to work with the National Arts Council to introduce Singapore’s traditional art forms to students aged four to six through the Traditional Arts Taster Programme for Pre-Schools. The sessions employ dance, storytelling, and interactive workshops to cultivate an interest in traditional art among young audiences.
2. Kids’ Philharmonic@SG
Since 2012, Kids’ Philharmonic@SG has changed the common perception that an orchestra is made up of adults. Singapore’s first and only orchestra, which features young musicians as young as six years old, was started by Lee Hoon Piek.
It aims to inspire Singapore’s next generation of musicians while at the same time, nurturing them into young adults who will be ambassadors for the arts in Singapore. The orchestra has a team of professionals, including conductors and a concertmaster, and about 140 young musicians playing across three orchestras accommodating different skill levels.
Over the years, the orchestra has collaborated with big names like the Vienna Boys’ Choir and conductor Wong Kah Chun, and has produced young talents who have gone on to semi-professional orchestras.
The orchestra has two major concerts each year, in June and November, held at prestigious venues like the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay and Victoria Concert Hall. Student concerts are also held every quarter, and the group also regularly take their music to community events.
3. Wild Rice
Wild Rice is no stranger to the local arts fraternity, having staged some of Singapore’s most popular and well-known productions. Founded in 2000 by Singaporean stage actor and theatre director Ivan Heng, it is one of the country’s top professional theatre companies today.
Beyond putting on shows, the company also channels their resources into the young through Wild Rice Academy and First Stage. They offer drama and training programmes to children from five to 12 years old.
First Stage, in particular, is an intensive programme that provides training and performance opportunities. Young talents learn and grow in a professional environment, and those who succeed in auditions will get to work with some of Singapore’s best in the field and be a part of new homegrown productions from the start.
Since its launch in 2003, the First Stage programme has trained more than 150 children to be stage-ready alongside Wild Rice’s actors and theatre-makers. It is estimated that these young artists have performed for more than 166,000 people.
Wild Rice’s upcoming production Pinocchio, which debuts on 17 Nov, will feature some First Stage kids – the first time in three years that they will make a return to the Wild Rice stage.
Bonus: The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music is a well-loved musical that remains popular today, more than 60 years after it was first staged on Broadway. It will begin a run in November at the Sands Theatre, and the cast of the von Trapp Family’s children will feature several of Singapore’s budding stage actors.
The musical auditioned hundreds of hopefuls earlier this year to pick the most talented and capable young actors to be a part of the musical. They will play six of the seven von Trapp children in rotation.
Find out more about the production here.
(Photos: Act 3 Theatrics, Act 3 International, Kids’ Philharmonic@SG, Wild Rice, Base Entertainment Asia)