Esplanade — Theatres on the Bay, our beloved national performing arts centre and unofficial ode to the King of Fruits, is turning 15 this year. And for its birthday, it’ll be getting a spanking new waterfront theater situated in a new building that’s taking over the spaces currently occupied by The Edge and Waterfront Carpark (basically the empty area beside Makansutra Gluttons Bay). Esplanade won’t be able to unwrap the present until 2021, but at least we know it’s coming.
What’s really cool about the upcoming 550-seat theater is not just its ability to cater to medium-sized works that form the majority of new productions made in Singapore and abroad, but that Esplanade is looking for a way to allow the public to contribute to its $30 million construction cost while allowing us to leave a personal imprint on it for doing so.
The funding approach is three-pronged: One, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will contribute $10 million to kick-start the effort; two, naming rights to the new waterfront theater will be offered to a corporation (akin to how OCBC Aquatic Centre got its name); and three, a way is being worked out for the public to be able to participate and support in the building of the venue.
Details are sketchy at the moment, but a quick chat with operators The Esplanade Co revealed that they are open to suggestions, so if you’ve got any ideas, feel free to send it their way. Currently, a fundraising taskforce is working on this and will confirm the mechanics, or, if it is happening at all, in October. Construction of the new building will commence in 2019.
What we’re really looking forward to as well is what they promise to be an approachable back-of-house. While dressing rooms and backstage work spaces are usually hidden from view, those at the new waterfront theater will be designed to invoke curiosity from the public, giving us a glimpse into what really goes on behind the curtains.