SIFA 2022: Live performances to catch from 20 May to 5 June

sifa 2022

SIFA 2022 starts today. Here are five highlights from the festival

sifa 2022
This marks Natalie Hennedige’s first year at the helm as festival director

This year’s edition of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA), organised by Arts House Limited and happening till 5 June 2022, takes on a starkly different flavour and profile. That’s only to be expected, given that this marks the beginning of festival director Natalie Hennedige’s three-year tenure. Featuring newly commissioned works by a mix of local and international artists, SIFA 2022—aptly titled The Anatomy of Performance – Ritual—places an emphasis on our shared social rituals, which are themselves powerfully echoed and amplified in the art of performance. Spanning a range of artistic disciplines and perspectives, here are five performances that are not to be missed.

Editor’s note: Do also check out Life Profusion, SIFA’s virtual stage that runs in conjunction with the festival, featuring a separate programme lineup; such as artist Lucy McRae’s performance film Delicate Spells of Mind—a compelling voyage into different states of consciousness.

sifa 2022
MEPAAN encapsulates the musical rituals and practices of the indigenous people across Southeast Asia. Image courtesy of Sean Lee


When: 20 to 22 May

Where: Pasir Panjang Power Station

In Kayan language, a dialect spoken by the indigenous Kayan people of Borneo, ‘Mepaan’ means ‘always’—a fitting reference, perhaps, to the timeless, transcendental quality of indigenous music. Together with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Borneo-based arts company Tuyang Initiative seamlessly weaves indigenous musical strains and melodies from across Southeast Asia, with moving vocal and orchestral compositions. Should your mind wander during this performance (as it will), let it be to the untouched stretches of rainforest from whence this poetic ensemble of music arises.

sifa 2022
Part theatre, part collective experience, ubin takes you through an immersive walking tour to rediscover Pulau Ubin. Image courtesy of Arts House Limited


When: 25 to 29 May

Where: Pulau Ubin

An engaging three-hour excursion through Pulau Ubin—which has a dwindling population of about one hundred native islanders—audiences are required (literally) to get out of their seats and immerse themselves in the island’s history. Conducted by local theatre company Drama Box, you’ll be exploring the island’s rustic beauty and meeting its inhabitants, while contemplating it’s uncertain future.

sifa 2022
Remotes x Quantum marries themes from Torres’ futuristic film, The Remotes, and Wong’s recent text, The Quantum of Space. Image courtesy of Aisha Causing

Remotes x Quantum

When: 25 to 29 May

Where: The Arts House

For this multidisciplinary dystopian piece, playwright Eleanor Wong and independent filmmaker John Torres have joined forces to cast both Singapore and the Philippines on the brink of social collapse. In the former, people struggle to find meaning in the face of existential challenges; in the latter, citizens sell their bodies to become avatars in order to survive. Conjuring a dream-like language, Wong and Torres meditate on the complex nature of possession and the politics of human bodies.

sifa 2022
project SALOME paints a provocative and ferocious double portrait of individuals seeking emancipation

project SALOME

When: 27 to 28 May

Where: Victoria Theatre

You might be familiar with Salomé—Oscar Wilde’s one-act tragedy based on the biblical character of Herod’s stepdaughter—but you certainly won’t be expecting Ong Ken Sen’s (the critically acclaimed artistic director of TheatreWorks) reinterpretation of the famed heroine. Using the interplay of social media, creative documentary filmmaking and theatre, Ong provides a provocative meditation on the rituals of projecting, becoming and self-mythologising. “How do we express ourselves, and remain free, [especially] during the challenging restrictions of the pandemic?”, he questions.

sifa 2022
The Once and Future represents a unique collaboration between one of Singapore’s leading filmmakers and one of the world’s greatest orchestras. Image courtesy of Arts House Limited

The Once and Future

When: 3 to 5 June

Where: Esplanade Theatre

These days, apocalyptic sci-fi narratives of humanity’s future run amok. This one, however, stands out for its experimental coming together of film, laser displays and a live musical performance by the renowned Berliner Philharmoniker. The brainchild of lauded Singaporean filmmaker Yeo Siew Hua—whose previous work, A Land Imagined, won the Golden Leopard grand prize at the 71st Locano Film FestivalThe Once and Future is set in The Labyrinth, a singularity containing the uploaded totality of human experience once Earth has become inhospitable. Deeply riveting, it’s a bold conception of what it is that separates and binds us, that truly makes us human.

SIFA 2022