SIFA is back—these are the shows you can’t miss

The Singapore International Festival of Arts returns on Aug 11, but the event is split into two parts: The O.P.E.N., a pre-festival program from Jun 22-Jul 9 and the main festival from Aug 11-Sep17. 

This year’s theme is the concept of Potentialities, which is “the potential to develop in the future and transform society” and the line-up is an edgy mix of experimental artworks, music and dance performances, and conversations with international artists. There are a total of 43 programs for The O.P.E.N. and 20 productions for the main festival, with 15 new and specially-commissioned shows. Of the lot, highlights include controversial stage production Five Easy Pieces (Aug 18, 19 and 20) by acclaimed Swiss director Milo Rau, which explores the life and trial of convicted murderer and pedophile Marc Dutroux, starring seven performers aged eight to 13.

Award-winning veteran choreographer Bill T. Jones (Sep 14), will be delivering a lecture and performance about creativity and what it means to be a maker in the world today. Not forgetting our local talents, artists Loo Zihan and Ray Langenbach come together for I Am LGB (Aug 18, 19 and 20), a performance piece on identity, politics and art. 

And then there’s The O.P.E.N. program, which covers thought-provoking topics on the state of the world today. I Know Why The Rebel Sings (Jun 22-Jul 9) is an exhibition by Iranian photographer Newsha Tavakolian and it shows wartime images of humanitarian tragedies around the world. Uyghur singer Perhat Khaliq (Jun 23-24), known for his raspy and guttural vocals, will be performing a modern blend of traditional Uyghur and Kazakh music.

Tickets for The O.P.E.N. range from $10 for single-entry to $45 for a pass to all programs. Tickets for main program events range from $10 to $80. For more information, visit the event’s website