The Studios

A season of thought provoking theatre productions, talks & programmes that examines the powerful forces shaping our collective and individual trajectories.

About The Studios season visual

Featured photo by Jefree Bin Salim. 

At dawn, an Orang Seletar fisherman prepares his net. The Orang Seletar continue to try to make a living and a life with the sea, even as political and environmental challenges loom in the background. 

About Jefree Bin Salim


A self-taught photographer and a fisherman from the indigenous Orang Seletar community residing in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Jefree Bin Salim uses photography to document the lives of his people, as well as their ever-changing environmental and cultural landscapes. His works have brought him around Malaysia, and abroad to Singapore and Japan. 

Producer’s Message

Today is a volatile place. Almost daily, we hear of global unrest, growing isolationism, the climate emergency, and insecurities on many fronts. There is a sense that we are living amid overlapping fault lines—multiple points of tension that may suddenly erupt—disrupting and displacing the global systems and structures as we know it. 


It is wishful thinking and out of touch to proclaim that art is the solution to today’s complex problems; of course, it cannot solve or alleviate the critical and urgent needs in the world. So, what’s the point? Why continue with art? Borrowing the words of Norwegian writer and playwright, Jon Fosse, written in commemoration of World Theatre Day on 27 Mar 2024


Art, good art, manages in its wonderful way to combine the utterly unique with the universal. It lets us understand what is different—what is foreign, you might say—as being universal. By doing so, art breaks through the boundaries between languages, geographical regions, countries. It brings together not just everyone’s individual qualities but also, in another sense, the individual characteristics of every group of people, for example of every nation. 


Art does this not by levelling differences and making everything the same, but, on the contrary, by showing us what is different from us, what is alien or foreign. All good art contains precisely that: something alien, something we cannot completely understand and yet at the same time do understand, in a way. It contains a mystery, so to speak. Something that fascinates us and thus pushes us beyond our limits and in so doing creates the transcendence that all art must both contain in itself and lead us to. 


It is an essential part of our collective humanity—our inherent ability to create, appreciate beauty, express and be immersed in our joys and sorrows and everything in between—to remind us that who we see on screen, onstage, and sitting beside us are fellow persons worthy and deserving of respect and compassion. It is art that will help us to understand and to make sense of the insensible. 


From 12 Jul – 7 Sep 2024, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay presents the second part of the Land trilogy in our contemporary theatre season, The Studios 2024, where four artists invite everyone to consider the world today, to examine the powerful forces that shape our trajectories as individuals, communities, societies and nations. Where did they begin? How can we learn from these global histories and personal histories to make sense of this current time when confronting significant shifts in international politics and economy? Can our pasts inform, remind and teach us as we move forward?   


We open the season with an updated staging of Air by Drama Box, looking at the dispossession and loss of the Orang Seletar, an indigenous community of Singapore, as they strive to preserve their heritage in the face of encroaching changes around them. Next, we jointly present the Asian premiere of Rhapsody in Yellow by Ming Wong with Singapore Art Museum. In a time of rising tensions between the US and China, the work traces Sino-American “ping-pong” diplomacy during the Cold War, charting the changing balance of power between the two superpowers in a duet of discord and harmony, chaos and serendipity, humour and pathos. Closer to home and set against the sweeping backdrop of the Malayan Emergency, visual artist Sim Chi Yin’s debut theatrical performance One Day We’ll Understand is an evocative exploration of memory, inheritance and family history. Lastly, Thai director Wichaya Artamat makes his Singapore debut with This Song Father Used to Sing (Three Days in May), reflecting on the relationship between individual and national history, the ceremonial and the ordinary, and time—in relation to both our everyday lives and the collective events that shape it. 


In a world that so often demands immediacy, art reminds us to pause. Like the invisible but constant tectonic movement that shapes our physical landscape, the process of creating art is a slow and considered, sometimes violent, one. Perhaps, for us, the audience, in going to the theatre and sitting with artists amongst the many difficult and messy questions of today, we will also come to encounter something hopeful.  


It is our immense privilege to work with these artists and to be able to share their work with you. See you at The Studios


About The Studios


Eclectic, genre-bending and running the gamut from neo-realism to experimental, The Studios features works that challenge the boundaries in theatre and performance. It is interested in contemporary artists, ideas and expressions, and offers a space for dialogue and reflection on the questions that matter to us today.


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