When Gaurav Kripalani took the helm of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) from its 2018 edition, his three-year arc as festival director was inspired by three guiding principles: to present game-changing artists, to provide opportunities for Singapore artists to stage unprecedented work, and to encourage collaboration between local and international artists.
The fruits of this vision came in the form of four commissioned productions: Three Sisters by Nine Years Theatre, Oiwa – The Ghost of Yotsuya by The Finger Players and The Year of No Return by The Necessary Stage, which featured collaborations with international artists, as well as the final instalment of the three-part festival commission, A Dream Under the Southern Bough: Existence by Toy Factory Productions. The works of these homegrown theatre companies were developed and incubated over the period of two to three years, with their world premieres planned for the 2020 edition of the festival.
Unfortunately, the pandemic put a spanner in the works and Sifa 2020 was cancelled. Kripalani’s three-year tenure was extended for another year with the 2021 edition. But two days after Sifa 2021 opened in mid-May this year, Singapore introduced further restrictions under Phase 2 heightened alert to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Even so, all four festival commissions—along with the others commissioned for Sifa 2021 (excluding The Rhythm of Us by Singapore Dance Theatre and Singapore Symphony Orchestra, which was cancelled)—still made it to the stage, but capacity was capped to 100 audience members for each live show.
If you missed these productions live on stage, you can now watch the recorded performances online from June 5, with video-on-demand access on Sistic Live. Sifa On Demand has also been extended till June 20. With Sifa 2021, Kripalani reimagined a “phygital” festival for the future, and Sifa On Demand only seeks to increase the festival’s reach to both local and international audiences.
Here are seven productions featuring some of Singapore’s best talents to watch.