As a young boy I was very much taken by the ancient Greek myth of Daedalus and his son Icarus. I marvelled at how a man can fashion a pair of wings, by just using feathers and wax, and take flight. I wished so much I could have the same wings as Daedalus once had (but told myself to remember not to fly too close to the sun!).
These days, there are easier ways to travel, but in fact you do not even have to leave Singapore to be transported beyond your wildest imagination. At Esplanade, you can discover new worlds, make memories and have a good laugh for a moment’s relief from the stresses of life. For Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts 2023, we have specially curated performances by outstanding Chinese artists with this sense of lightness and adventure. This is in keeping with the heady spirit of the Year of the Rabbit, a creature full of positivity and wit. It is also a great tonic for these somewhat disorienting, post-pandemic times.
The festival kicks off with ART, Godot Theatre Company of Taiwan’s humorous and thought-provoking adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s celebrated play. Popular TV personalities Pu Hsueh-liang, Chu Chung Heng and Tseng Kuo Chen step into the shoes of three long-time friends who are in danger of falling out over an expensive ‘artwork’. A more poignant look at friendship is the dance production Two men, ten years later, featuring Taiwan dance artists Chen Wu-kang and Su Wei-chia who have been friends and working partners for over 30 years. Laughter masks some bittersweet home truths in the acclaimed one-man show Every Brilliant Thing by Singapore’s Oliver Chong, which we are pleased to bring back following its premiere to a smaller audience amidst COVID-19 restrictions at the last Huayi.
Music lovers will delight in multi-talented Hong Kong artists Yuri Ng, Anna Lo and Rick Lau, who share funny stories and explore their cultural identity in Tri Ka Tsai – A uniquely trilingual Hong Kong cabaret. Not to be missed too is Earl Grey Teh C – Gah Dai!, a fun concert by Singapore’s very own Lorong Boys and world champion Hong Kong harmonicist Gordon Lee, who deliver original musical arrangements of popular Chinese favourites. Completing the eclectic musical line-up are An Evening with Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Taiwanese indie darlings ANPU (formerly known as Deserts Chang), Accusefive and Elephant Gym and SINMAHUI “Hip Hop Night” featuring Mandarin hip hop artists from Singapore and Malaysia such as ShiGGa Shay, Tosh Rock, Dato’ Maw and more. Check out their swag!
Travel with the famed Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan to the bustling Bangka district of its artistic director Cheng Tsung-lung’s Taipei childhood in 13 Tongues. And with the opening of Esplanade’s newest mid-sized venue, the Singtel Waterfront Theatre, we take the opportunity to present The Drought Goddess · Dream of the World, a contemporary theatrical take on the creation of the world told through Nanguan and Beiguan music, dance and puppetry by La Cie MaxMind from Taiwan. After fighting an exhausting battle, the mythical goddess Han Ba searches for a way to return to her home Kunlun. Just like how all our travels must bring us home too eventually, hopefully more enriched through new experiences.
Through Huayi, Esplanade has been celebrating the lunar new year with the presentation of the best of Chinese arts and culture from Singapore and around the world since 2003. It has been close to three years since we last presented overseas artists physically at the festival and we warmly welcome them back. Our heartfelt thanks also go to our Principal Sponsor Knife Cooking Oil, Supporting Sponsor Berries 百力果 and Supporters Bowen Enterprises (Pte) Ltd and Polar Premium Drinking Water.
On behalf of the Huayi team, I wish each and every one of you the strength of mind and character to embrace huatever the new year may bring!
Senior Producer, The Esplanade Co Ltd
Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts
About the festival
Launched in 2003 during the Chinese New Year, Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts was introduced as one of four annual cultural festivals at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay celebrating Singapore’s multicultural heritage.
We aspire to make Huayi the pinnacle festival for Chinese artists, and to be internationally recognised as an arts festival that showcases the works of the most outstanding Chinese artists.
Through commissions, co-productions, presentations and showcases, Huayi enables audiences to experience some of the most dynamic forms of artistic expression by Chinese artists.
Huayi introduces our audiences to works that reveal the unique individual voices of Chinese artists, and as a multi-genre arts festival, the works curated for each Huayi range across a wide spectrum, from the traditional to the contemporary, the mainstream to the cutting-edge.
Huayi is committed to working with Singapore artists and making them known to an international audience as well, by fostering collaborations or partnerships with arts centres and arts festivals.
We are humbled and yet also heartened that Huayi has grown into one of the most warmly embraced arts festivals in Singapore, and a sought-after platform for Chinese artists all over the world.
And as it takes place during the Chinese New Year, we celebrate the occasion with an inspiring and exciting line-up of Arts programmes, both ticketed and non-ticketed. We invite people from all walks of life to come enjoy and participate in our programmes, and we hope that they will encounter much inspiration and positivity so as to start the year on a cheery note.
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