Stay up with the owls

Stay up with the owls
Nocturnal “birds” light up the banyan tree in front of the National Museum.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Glitz And Glamour is the theme of this year's Singapore Night Festival, the annual outdoor extravaganza drawing night owls from all over Singapore to the Bras Basah-Bugis district.

Happening on Friday and Saturday starting tonight and next weekend, the festival promises to have its fair share of fabulousness with drag acts and glam rock performances, as well as its mainstay of light installations, projections and breathtaking circus-inspired outdoor shows.

This year's edition is expanded to include more than 60 partners, including the Singapore Pinacotheque de Paris in Fort Canning Park, photography space Deck in Prinsep Street and National Design Centre in Middle Road.

Life susses out the festival's highlights from more than 100 programmes, some running till 2am.

Zone 1: National Museum area


Two Inuit children, Anook and Nooki, will frolic on the facade of the National Museum of Singapore. The characters are the creations of French graphic designers David Passegand and Moetu Batlle, whose light installation will be projected onto the museum facade.

Anook and Nooki will also pay tribute to Singapore's jubilee celebrations, complete with a birthday song and plenty of confetti.

Anooki Celebrate Singapore is part of Night Lights, a series of light installations during the Singapore Night Festival.

Where: National Museum, facade

When: Tonight, tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29, 7.30pm to 2am; Aug 23 to 27, 7.30 to 11pm


These two light installations are part of Night Lights.

On the banyan tree in front of the National Museum, there will be some unusual nocturnal birds made of light. They are illuminated chicken wire sculptures, called Le Desir Et La Menace, created by French artist Cedric Le Borgne.

Meanwhile, at the museum's Mainground, located near Singapore Management University's School of Accountancy and Law, you can find Dutch artist Ralf Westerhof's rotating installation, Drawn In Light, depicting a typical Amsterdam street scene using hand-bent wire lined with light.

Where: Le Desir Et La Menace, banyan tree at National Museum; Drawn In Light, Mainground at National Museum

When: Tonight, tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29, 7.30pm to 2am; Aug 23 to 27, 7.30 to 11pm


Regulars of the Singapore Night Festival may recognise Belgian group Theater Tol, which presented an aerial spectacle in front of the National Museum in 2011.

The 17-year-old company is back with a newly commissioned piece for the festival, Garden Of Angels, which the troupe's artistic director Charlotte Seunjens calls "exciting and poetic" .

She says: "It will be a spectacle of fireworks, heat and passion inspired by the paintings of Russian-French artist Marc Chagall where the worlds of animals, people and fantasy merge."

The performance will kick off at 8pm with a 30-minute street parade in Armenian Street, complete with musicians, tango dancers, singing dolls, dancing flowers and animals on rollerskates.

The performers will end up at the lawn in front of the National Museum where they will present a 25-minute aerial show with a scene of ethereal angels in the sky.

Where: Parade in Armenian Street, aerial show at National Museum's Front Lawn

When: Aug 28 and 29, parade, 8pm, aerial show, 9 and 11pm

Zone 2: Armenian Street area


In this work conceived by Singapore actor Timothy Nga, the audience get into a stationary taxi with a real-life taxi driver known as Tony the Cowboy, so called because of his outfit of boots and cowboy hat. There is also a game of checkers with a stranger among other encounters in this free performance.

Creating this last year for The Substation's Directors' Lab programme, Nga, 42, was interested in exploring how taxi drivers are often forgotten in a rapidly developing society. "They are often treated as commodities to be used, rather than as people with history," he says.

For this performance, he collaborates with visual artist Yusri "Shaggy" Sapari and sound artist Bani Haykal to create an alternate world where the lines between reality and fiction are blurred.

Where: The Substation, Random Room

When: Tonight and tomorrow, 7.30 to 11pm (30 minutes a person), limited slots, sign up at The Substation box office before the show starts.


French art company Cie Mastoc Production presents two otherworldly works at the Armenian Church.

The Japanese cherry blossom season is the inspiration behind its light installation Hanami - an illuminated garden with miniature cherry trees and chandeliers set up on the church grounds. The installation is part of Night Lights.

While you are walking around the church, do not be surprised if performers dressed in outfits studded with lights come up to you and whisper sweet words, as part of the performance Embruns De Lune.

Where: Armenian Church

When: Hanami, tonight, tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29, 7.30pm to 2am; Aug 23 to 27, 7.30 to 11pm; Embruns De Lune, tonight and tomorrow, 8pm, 10pm and midnight (45-minute show)


The Substation joins hands with its neighbour, the Peranakan Museum, to present this music and dance performance which melds the traditional with the contemporary.

Women in kebaya from arts company GenerAsia will joget to the beat of classic Peranakan music mixed with digital sounds from Nada, a duo comprising artist Rizman Putra and electronic musician Safuan Johari, also known as Max Lane.

Where: Armenian Street, Main Stage

When: Aug 28 and 29, 8.30 to 9.30pm

Zone 3: SMU- Cathay-Sota area



A tent on Cathay Green has been named the House Of Glamour and, aptly, it is hosting some fabulous business inside - sequins, glitter, all over the top - over the two weekends of the Night Festival.

Singapore indie-rock band Tiramisu will play rock opera Moonage Daydream, while local puppeteer Frankie Malachi will present a puppet cabaret titled Lost Vegas.

Also catch drag acts by Singapore stand-up comedian Kumar and drag personality Becca D'Bus.

There will also be improv comedy, theatre and ventriloquist acts, as well as Goldies, a band playing local rock 'n' roll and pop hits from the 1950s to 1980s.

Where: House of Glamour, Cathay Green (field opposite The Cathay)

When: Tonight, tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29, various times between 7pm and 2am

Admission: Some of the acts are free, others are ticketed at $15 each. Spaces are limited and require registration. Details on the festival website (


Stop at the Festival Village to refuel with food and drinks. Take note that the location this year is no longer Cathay Green, but the more centrally located SMU Campus Green.

Among the participating stalls are Sandwiches, Wraps And Greens (SWAG); Soi 55, which sells Thai beverages; and The Quarters, which sells local-fusion cuisine.

At the Festival Village Stage, catch home-grown acts such as classical quintet The Lorong Boys, who play anything from musical theatre numbers to today's pop hits; and Awi Rafael, a familiar name in the Malay music scene.

You can shop for accessories, assorted knick-knacks or catch screenings of old movies such as Xanadu and Flash Gordon.

Where: SMU Campus Green

When: Tonight, tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29.


This project shines a spotlight on the older generation by presenting refreshingly frank interviews with 25 people aged between 50 and 95.

The audience has to manually wind a projector crank to watch the interviews, symbolising the effort one must put in to keep the conversation with one's elders going.

The documentary installation is presented by content creation studio Logue, The Raffles Photographic Society and Singapore artist Shang.

This project is part of Night Lights.

Where: School of the Arts

When: Tonight and tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29, 7.30pm to 2am; Aug 23 to 27, 7.30 to 11pm

Zone 4: SAM-Lasalle-Bugis area


This performance by home-grown act Starlight Alchemy promises a whole lot of spectacle - acrobatic yoga displays, aerial artists, hula hoopers, live music and fire and LED props.

These seemingly disparate elements are all part of flow arts, which is a movement-based artform that merges dance with theatre and prop manipulation.

The group's third outing in the Singapore Night Festival is also its biggest. Alchemy, a performance which aims to tell the love story between the elements of fire and light, is a festival commission. It will play in three 25-minute segments outside the Singapore Art Museum.

Mr Johari Kazura, 40, one of the founders of Starlight Alchemy, says: "We're trying to tell a simple story in a very beautiful way. These are two similar yet different elements, which are so close yet so far apart."

All the elements in the show are either hand-built or customised, from the handsewn costumes to the design of the circuit boards and the music.

All the performers have day jobs.

Mr Johari says with a laugh: "We are all self-trained - you can't go to school to learn how to make fire props."

Those interested to learn from the group can attend talks and workshops on flow arts as part of the festival's Behind The Night programme which brings the audience closer to the artists.

Where: Singapore Art Museum, Front Lawn

When: Alchemy, tonight and tomorrow, 8, 9.30 and 11pm Info: For dates and ticket prices for talks and workshops, go to the festival website (


The container space at photography centre Deck will host an interactive installation called The Light Box, by Lasalle College of the Arts lecturers Andreas Schlegel, Brian O'Reilly and Melissa Quek.

The trio use carefully arranged prisms, mirrors and magnifying glasses to manipulate light in response to movement and sound.

At Lasalle, those keen to settle a score can look for London-based Singapore artist Jack Tan at his exhibition, How To Do Things With Rules.

During the festival period, Tan, acting as a court clerk, will take down dispute cases from feuding parties keen on a sing-off. Everything will lead to a Karaoke Court on Sept 5, where plaintiffs and defendants duke it out with a microphone.

Where: Deck, Level 1 Activity Space, 120A Prinsep Street and Earl Lu Gallery, Lasalle College of the Arts, 1 McNally Street

When: The Light Box Project, tonight, tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29, 7.30 to 11pm. There will also be 10-minute performances between 8.20 and 10.40pm during the festival period. How To Do Things With Rules, noon to midnight during festival period, artist will take down cases from 2 to 7pm.

12. PIXELS WAVE 2015

Part of Night Lights, the atrium of the National Design Centre will be turned into a trippy light carpet of geometric designs and patterns which change according to the movements of visitors stepping on it.

The work is a collaboration between French artist Miguel Chevalier and Singapore fashion designers Carolyn Kan and Depression.

Where: Level 1 National Design Centre Atrium, 111 Middle Road

When: Tonight, tomorrow, Aug 28 and 29, 7.30pm to 2am; Aug 23 to 27, 7.30to 11pm



• Dress comfortably as it may get quite warm.

• Wear sturdy shoes which you do not mind getting dirty in case it rains and the grounds get muddy.

• Get a copy of the festival guide if you want an overview of what is happening where. As some of the programmes are ticketed or require registration, plan early to avoid disappointment.

• If you want to catch certain acts, arrive early for a good vantage point.

• Bring cash for food and shopping at the Festival Village.

• Travel by public transport if possible.


Armenian Street will be closed to traffic during the festival period from 7.30pm to 2am.

Cheng Yan Place in Bugis will be closed on Aug 29 from 6pm to 2am.

•For information on the Singapore Night Festival, go to

This article was first published on August 21, 2015.
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