The SESH began with a presentation of Dr. Chu Soo Pong on the “Revitalization of Traditional Theatre in Singapore”. Dr. Chua Soo Pong discussed the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020 and how it did not derail traditional theatre groups’ plans to revitalize the art form, thanks to the diligent efforts made by many dedicated teams. In fact, Singapore is experiencing a renewed interest in traditional theatre. He also cited examples of theatre groups such as the Teochew Opera and Nam Hwa Opera and shared its history and development, mission and its achievements. Another group shared was the Bhaskar Arts Academy, discussing the history of this arts academy with cultural promotion strategies, as well as its past and recent achievements. Another group, a Malay traditional theatre called Bangsawan was also cited, sharing its history and efforts of the group’s arts education, and youth participation in promoting this intangible cultural heritage of Singapore.
Lastly, Dr Chua discussed the support from the National Arts Council, and how community based groups and non-professional groups managed to promote traditional theatre with a sense of mission as well as the challenges these groups are encountering.
The second speaker, Dr. Kusuma Venzky-Stalling talked on Rekindling the Traditional Performing Arts Through the Eyes of the Youth, covering these points: interests of the new generation of performing arts students and how they experiment with new dramatic devices and technology to make traditional forms more interesting and meaningful to new audiences and the adaptation of traditional form into contemporary performance. Three examples were presented – Khwan, Hope and Dance Jeng Lust.
A lively discussion and Q&A ensued as with other SESHes.
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Traditional Theatre in Southeast Asia: The Singapore and Thailand Experiences
Date: 1 September 2022
Time: 10 a.m. (Bangkok)
Online Platform: Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/seameo.spafa/ and on *Zoom. * (https://bit.ly/TraditionalTheatreinSEAsia-SGandTHExperiences)
Dr. Chua will drive audiences to understand the revitalization of traditional theatre in Singapore.
Dr. Kusuma will focus on rekindling traditional performing arts through the eyes of the youth.
Guest Speakers: Dr. Chua Soo Pong, Singapore Raffles Music College, and Dr. Kusuma Venzky-Stalling, Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University
Moderator: SEAMEO SPAFA Assistant Documentation Officer, Mr. Kanal Khiev