In 2014, I wrote, “Octoburst! impressed me through and through and I wish we had made time for more performances, both paid and [free], and a workshop or two. I won’t make the same mistake in 2015!” So, earlier this year, when tickets went on sale for this year’s festival, I grabbed a bunch.
On Sunday, my family and I attended two ticketed performances and one free performance as part of Octoburst! 2015: A Children’s Festival, to celebrate Children’s Day. We saw:
- “Casa” by La Baracca-Testoni Ragazzi (ticketed). I rarely purchase tickets to overseas shows staged in Singapore and prefer to spend my money on locally- or regionally-produced programming in order to support Singapore’s arts’ ecosystems. But the local producer of La Baracca-Testoni Ragazzi’s works at The Esplanade personally urged me to watch, so I did! La Baracca-Testoni Ragazzi was founded in Italy in 1976, and has been at the forefront of innovative and imaginative children’s theatre since. “Casa,” a play about a child and adult who build a house and home together, had a strong story structure, a minimalist set, and profound meaning. Actors Andrea Buzzetti and Carlotta Zini performed with great emotional and physical exactness, and exceptional beauty. And the play session at the close of the play was utterly delightful. “Casa” was truly world class children’s theatre, and we’re glad we attended.
- “The Mouse Deer and The Alligator” by Ethnic Shadows (free). Through the traditional art form of Wayang Kulit Kelantan, Indonesian shadow puppetry, Ethnic Shadows shared the story of how the cunning mouse deer tricked the alligators in order to cross the river. Formed in 2012, Ethnic Shadows was founded by two drum and percussion enthusiasts/Dikir Barat activists. Ethnic Shadows has very little social media presence, but all their instructors have worked closely with the Malay Heritage Centre and have conducted Wayang Kulit and Dikir Barat workshops and performances.
- “Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Swan Lake” by Singapore Dance Theatre (ticketed). “Introduction to Swan Lake” featured excerpts of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The excerpts were the perfect length for even the youngest audience members, even if Janek Schergen, Singapore Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, was a bit long winded with his explanations. And for SG$13.00 per ticket, we had the opportunity to sit in the third row (stall) of Esplanade’s glorious concert hall. From this vantage point, my child was dazzled by the grace and athleticism on display. However, at this distance, I was also able to see the unevenness of and the lack of precision in many of the company dancers, which was rather disappointing.
We also spent the afternoon wandering the Esplanade grounds, enjoying the various craft activities and play areas. Of note was the “Pipe-ful Play Garden” in the Courtyard Green, which invited participants to construct an ever-growing pipe-maze for all to play with.