Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).


Building Dreams: Bavani Jayakrishnan

Behind the scenes of the Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade


Published: 9 Sep 2022

By: Jane Ng

Time taken : <5mins

Being in the team that liaises between Esplanade and all the stakeholders involved in the building of the Singtel Waterfront Theatre (SWT) has helped assistant manager (project management) Bavani Jayakrishnan become more outgoing. 

Bavani, who calls herself an introvert, said she previously would not approach someone to strike up a conversation unless there was an absolute need to. 

But all that changed in the last four years when her job required her to be the bridge between the main contractor and Esplanade’s building management, security and Esplanade Mall teams, as well as government agencies.

She also had to attend to feedback and enquiries from the stakeholders including Mall tenant Makansutra Gluttons Bay which is right next to the construction site. 

“Working on this project and meeting people from different trades have made me come out of my shell. I’m now more vocal and I’m very thankful for that,” said the 31-year-old who has been working at Esplanade for more than six years. 

Dealing with complaints from affected stakeholders and thinking of alternative solutions to mitigate the situation is all in a day’s work for Bavani.

For instance, she has received calls at 10pm from neighbouring Mall tenants who said the loud noise at the construction site was disturbing their patrons. 

The solution? Call the main contractor’s project manager or someone on site to negotiate if they can continue noisy works the next day instead.

Or when the project timeline was lengthened due to construction delays during the pandemic, she had to manage the Mall tenants’ expectations, to make sure there are minimal disruptions to their operations, and at the same time not compromise safety at the worksite. 

Another issue was having to move parts of the hoarding around the construction site back and forth several times in the last four years, alternating between providing a wider space for the public to walk along the waterfront, and making space for the large construction equipment like cranes to move into the site when needed. 

Bavani has taken these tasks in her stride.

“You just have to think of different solutions to cater to different needs and make sure they still get what they want while managing the project, cost, timeline and safety,” she said. 

She credits her team and a good working relationship with the contractors for getting the job done smoothly.

She makes it a point to celebrate little milestones with her colleagues. For instance, when the job was awarded to the main contractor, they went out for drinks. 

With Covid-19, the gatherings went virtual when there was a split-team arrangement due to the pandemic. 

“Our one rule is no work talk. A lot of times we needed those sessions to destress and maintain our sanity,” she said.

One of her favourite moments during the construction of the theatre, was when she went up to the third level control room during one of her weekly site walks.

She looked down and saw where the performance space would be. 

“At that time there was no stage yet, but in my head I could visualise the whole auditorium. That was when it hit me, that we actually have a theatre. It was really cool to see it rather than just imagining it in my head,” she said.


She is excited to see the theatre in all its glory and to attend a show in each of the seating configurations—proscenium theatre, theatre in-the-round and flat floor performance space—just to experience the different formats. 

“I hope that with SWT being a multiformat theatre, it will inspire local artists to think outside the box, to have fun experimenting with new performances,” she said.

To Bavani, being part of the team that built the theatre from scratch is a special experience she is grateful for. 

“All the hard work was worth it. I will always remember how the building took shape, from the construction of the walls to the installation of the precast panels and steel screens on the facade. Fifteen years later, I hope I can still come back and watch a show in a place I helped to build from the ground up,” she said. 

Check out the productions at the Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade as part of In New Light, happening from 12 Oct – 31 Dec 2022.

Building Dreams

Building Dreams is a special photography exhibition at the new Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade, where we go behind-the-scenes to find out who was involved and what went into the building of the theatre.

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