The Studios turns 20 this year.
Over the last two decades, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s The Studios has been a space for inspiration, innovation, and imagination. We have presented an eclectic collection of more than 160 productions that has asked artists and audiences to reconsider possibilities in contemporary theatre and performance. We have heard stories that invite us to reflect on the human condition and what it means to live. We have had the privilege of meeting so many artists and audience members who have grown along with the season, many of whom have become firm collaborators and colleagues.
What next then? After 20 years, what role does The Studios play in the Singapore theatre scene? In what ways can the season evolve and respond to a wildly different world? What do we want to talk about and how do we want to talk about it? How does our physical infrastructure at Esplanade shift the programming of the season? It has been an exciting few years of research, reflection, brainstorming and prioritisation as we think about the possibilities ahead. What firmly remains, however, is our commitment to enable and collaborate with performance and theatre-makers to create work that challenges our notions of what art can be and do.
From 2023, The Studios will be expanding.
At the most fundamental level, the season is moving beyond its intimate home in the Esplanade Theatre Studio to include presentations in the recently opened Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade, opening up the possibilities for art-making and performance. This shift is mirrored in the expansion of the geography of the programming, inviting both Singapore-based and international artists to congregate in these spaces and exchange ideas, perspectives and stories—an ever more essential dialogue in an increasingly insular and polarised world.
Once started, this exchange and dialogue has the potential and momentum to continue beyond the venue’s physical confines. The suite of companion programmes that are presented alongside the performances are an invitation to deepen our engagement with the artistic work and the issues raised. They are designed to engage not just the intellect, but our senses and emotions, taking advantage of the myriad ways that people process and access information. Through these interactions, we hope that The Studios can become a space where we are provoked to think, make sense of and hopefully, make good of our collective human experience at this time.
2023 – 2025: Land
Our overarching theme for the next three years of The Studios is Land and it emerged in the simplest of ways. As the Singtel Waterfront Theatre was being built, we found photos of the Marina Bay area that showed how dramatically the landscape here had changed over the last 20 years. Between this visual reminder and the current local and global discourse, it felt urgent and fitting to look at land as our thematic focus for the next three editions.
Land is immediate and tactile. It is simultaneously our physical landscape and a symbol of our sense of identity and belonging. It encompasses a vast number of today’s pertinent issues, including global development, climate change, land rights, displacement and migration, duty of care and responsibility to our environment and the people around us. Yet, it is deeply intimate and personal, drawing our attention to our roots and history while inviting us to think about the future and what we have to do to.
For 2023, we turn our lens inwards and examine our relationship with land under the specific theme of Landings. How much do we know about the land on which we reside—its history, its natural character? What does it mean to us, and to what extent do we understand what we are trying to protect or preserve, particularly in Singapore where urban re-development is analogous to progress? What is the cost of this progress and what do we give up or have we given up, in order to move ahead?
Taking place from 28 Jul to 3 Sep 2023, the six productions and the accompanying companion programmes in our 2023 season are a starting point to examine some of these complex questions. For this, we are ever privileged and grateful to build this conversation with Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere, The Necessary Stage, Joel Tan, Tan Shou Chen, Robert Zhao, as well as Dr Natalie Pang, Yong Ding Li, Esmonde Luo, and Centre 42.
And to everyone who has joined us over the last two decades, thank you for your support and trust. It means the world to us and we are incredibly excited to start this new chapter with you.
The Esplanade Co Ltd