Esplanade Presents


One Day We’ll Understand ​​有那么一天​

An Esplanade Commission
by Sim Chi Yin (Singapore)
Produced by CultureLink Singapore
In partnership with Chamber Made (Australia)

30 Aug 2024, Fri, 8pm

31 Aug 2024, Sat, 8pm

1 Sep 2024, Sun, 3pm


(Intermission: None)

Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade

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Photo credit: Joseph Nair
Photo credit: Joseph Nair
Photo credit: Joseph Nair

“Stories of forced migration, of conflicts caused by geopolitical interests, and families being swept up in forces beyond their control have been with us for generations. They are also stories of our time. Through reckoning with our pasts we are better equipped to understand our present, and to create the kind of future we would hope for the generations to come.”– Tamara Saulwick (Director)


“…Under-histories, counter-narratives, the previously silenced narratives must be heard and seen. And, as Sim’s poetic craftwork offers, the assimilation of past horrors also begs for the courage of imagination.”– Cora Fisher, Curator and Essayist


This new multimedia performance explores memory, inheritance and the family history of visual artist Sim Chi Yin against the setting of the Malayan Emergency.  


Part documentary and part a speculative look at how we might deal with the past, One Day We’ll Understand excavates hidden histories, Chinese diasporic experiences and the long legacies of colonialism. Through the lens of Sim’s life and camera, we time-travel into her family archive, recovering traces left in the wake of the anti-colonial war in British Malaya and beyond.  


Drawing on Sim’s large body of evocative photographic and filmic work, probing questions both personal and universal, One Day We’ll Understand transcends the autobiographical to a larger canvas that speaks to memory, loss, trauma, restitution and repair.  


Led by a Singaporean-Australian creative team, One Day We'll Understand combines haunting imagery with narration, archival footage, and a driving live score by percussionist Cheryl Ong, giving voice to Sim’s multiple personas as artist, historian, writer, mother and granddaughter, opening up ways to think about our pasts and futures.    


Concept / Performer Sim Chi Yin

Sound / Performer Cheryl Ong

Director Tamara Saulwick

Dramaturg Kok Heng Leun

Video Artist Nick Roux

Lighting Design Andy Lim

Technical Manager Yap Seok Hui

Executive Producer Goh Ching Lee



One Day We’ll Understand is partially supported by Ho Bee Foundation.


More about One Day We’ll Understand

Running through One Day We’ll Understand is the story of Sim’s grandfather. Uprooted from his life in Perak, Malaya — where he had been an educator and newspaper editor — for his leftist sympathies, the British colonial government had deported him to China, where he fought and died in the Chinese civil war just weeks before the Communist victory.


While his ancestral village in China memorialised him with a monument, his memory was totally erased and hidden by his family in Malaya.  


Sim uncovers the silences behind the grandfather’s story which her family tried to forget, tracking down his relatives and compatriots to document their memories before the whole generation passes on.  


She contemplates what of those pasts she passes on to her child, and how the memory and legacies of war and colonialism affects our world today. 


Assistive Listening


Contains imagery of war and image flashes.


There will be a post-show dialogue after the performances on 30 & 31 Aug, 8pm.

Recommended Age: 12 and above.
Admission Age:
6 and above.
Language: English, some Mandarin and Hakka dialect
Surtitle Language: English, Mandarin
Things to Note:
Accessibility: We provide services and facilities for patrons with access needs. Concessions for persons with disabilities (PWDs) are available for selected shows. Read our accessibility guide.
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Artist Information

Sim Chi Yin

Sim Chi Yin is an artist from Singapore whose research-based practice uses artistic and archival interventions to contest and complicate historiographies and colonial narratives. She works across photography, film, installation, performance and book-making.


She is participating in the 60th Venice Biennale (2024) and has exhibited at the Gropius Bau, Berlin (2023); the Barbican, London (2023); Camera Austria, Graz (2024); Harvard Art Museums, USA (2021); Les Rencontres d’Arles, France (2021); Nobel Peace Museum, Oslo (2017), Datsuijo, Tokyo (2024); Arko Art Centre, Seoul (2016); Zilberman Gallery Berlin (2021); Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (2019). She has also participated in the Istanbul Biennale (2022, 2017) and the Guangzhou Image Triennial (2021). Sim was commissioned as the Nobel Peace Prize photographer in 2017. Her work is in the collections of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Harvard Art Museums, M+ Hong Kong, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Singapore Art Museum and the National Museum Singapore. She was an artist fellow in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in New York (2022–2023) and is completing a PhD at King’s College London.

Cheryl Ong

Cheryl Ong is a Singaporean percussionist who is active in music performance and education and regularly performs with avant rock group, The Observatory. Though classically trained, Cheryl consistently struggles with the fact that classical music can be divisive and limited in its role. Tired of being a mere technician, Cheryl has gone on to explore improvisational and experimental practices in recent years, hunting down new ideas and sounds.


Her recent performances include All Ears, Festival (2020, Norway) with the Guro (Dyna)Moe Revolution Sextet; AngelicA Festival (2019, Bologna) in a duo with Vivian Wang; Kombo, CTM Festival (2019, Berlin). Her solo composition Hejira was used in the closing credits of Singaporean filmmaker Yeo Siew Hua’s award-winning film, A Land Imagined.

Tamara Saulwick

Tamara Saulwick is an acclaimed performance-maker, director and dramaturg creating work across and between artforms for theatres, galleries and public spaces.  Notable for the complex interplay between sound, technology, visual design and live performance, her works have toured extensively, been adapted for radio, and have been honoured by numerous industry awards. Since 2017 Tamara has been the Artistic Director of Chamber Made, a Melbourne based company renowned for creating trailblazing works at the intersection of performance, sound and music. Recent Chamber Made works include; My Self in That Moment (2022), SYSTEM_ERROR (2021) and Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep (2020). In her role at Chamber Made she continues to conceive and direct new works, collaborate with lead artists from outside the company, curate artist and art form development programs, and mentor emerging artists. Tamara is an Australia Council Theatre Fellow and has a PhD in Performance Studies from Victoria University.

Kok Heng Leun

Kok Heng Leun is a prominent figure in the Singapore arts scene, having built his artistic career as a theatre director, playwright, dramaturg and educator. He is known for engaging the community on various issues through the arts, championing civic discourse across different segments of society.


Having begun his work in the theatre more than 30 years ago, some notable directorial works include Drift, Trick or Threat, Manifesto and Underclass. His explorations with multi-disciplinary engaged arts have produced works like site-specific theatre ubin, Project Mending Sky (2008, 2009 and 2012), a series on environmental issues, Both Sides, Now (2013, 2014 and 2017-2019), a project that seeks to normalise end-of-life conversations and It Won't Be Too Long, which touched on the dynamics of space in Singapore. Tanah•Air 水•土:A Play In Two Parts was about the dispossession of the indigenous Malays and Orang Seletar of Singapore.


Heng Leun's contributions to the arts have landed him awards from the National Arts Council, Singapore – the Young Artist Award (2000), Cultural Fellowship (2014), and the highest artistic accolade, the Cultural Medallion (2022). He also served as a Nominated Member of Parliament from 2016 to 2018, representing the arts sector.

Nick Roux

Nick Roux is an artist working in sound and video. His work is primarily focused on live performance and has manifested itself in composition, instrument creation, computer programming and visual/spatial design. He has created work locally and internationally across a wide spectrum of artistic platforms from solo gallery performances to multi-million dollar main stage theatrical productions.

Andy Lim

With his minimalistic approach and dramaturgical integration of source material, Andy roots his process in design concepts based on research and a keen sensitivity to the history, present and future imbued and reflected in each individual project; his artistic intention always striving toward creating emotion—at once abstract and moving, when experienced.


Operating from Singapore, his portfolio includes various genres like drama, dance, music and film, showcasing his versatility.


In addition to lighting design, Andy also works as a technical director with ARTFACTORY, a technical production service company specialising in providing technical support for media art installations and performances.

CultureLink Singapore

CultureLink Singapore is an international creative producing, touring and consulting arts agency connecting inspiring ideas, people and places across arts disciplines, cultures, and borders through the arts. Acting as a cultural catalyst, it has brokered, facilitated, initiated and delivered a range of work including concerts, performances, festival programmes, artistic collaborations, cultural exchange programmes, Singapore seasons, amongst others, in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. More recently, it co-produced (with Chamber Made) and toured the award-winning work Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep featuring Margaret Leng Tan to Melbourne, Singapore, Adelaide, Taiwan, and imminently, the United Kingdom.


CultureLink Singapore was founded by Goh Ching Lee in 2009 following her memorable decade-long tenure as Director of the Singapore Arts Festival. She is its Executive and Artistic Director.

Assistive Listening

Assistive listening system is available for this venue. Hearing aid users with a Telecoil-enabled programme can benefit from the system provided. Please arrive at the venue 30 min before the performance so we can assist with the setup.

Date & Time

Assistive Listening

30 Aug 2024, Fri


Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade

31 Aug 2024, Sat


Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade

1 Sep 2024, Sun


Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade
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