So, I have been in Singapore for the last three weeks performing ‘Under the Baobab Tree’ with i Theatre. What an incredible experience!!! Apart from three seriously jet lagged days at the start, there have been few nights where I have been in early and every single day brings incredible new experiences.
Yes there have been plenty of ‘going out’ nights with a visit to the amazing ’1 Altitude’, the worlds tallest al fresco bar. Incredible views over the city! Joining Kamini Ramachandran and the other storytellers for a beautiful evening transported away to all cornrs of the world with the story of the vanilla flower, a Native American Indian tale, a European story where man realises the strength of the woman and a true story of China’s feisty female pirate who at her peak, commanded 17000 men in the early 19th century. An evening with Nitin Sawnhey at the Esplanade and seafood dining in Punggol in the North. Night walks along Clarke Quay and a visit to Emerald Hill to visit the quaint Peranakan houses tucked away in the middle of Orchard, Singapore’s glitzy centre.
It’s an extraordinary place where it seems people are very much divided and there is little scope for crossing over to the other side. By that, I mean the money men (business, finance, etc) go out with other money men, art communities stick very much together and there are few places that encourage a mix, although I get the feeling from spending time with both, that there is a desire for that to happen.
Only few places like Farzina’s khana commune, an incredible supper club that is open to the public and is held in the comfort of her own home provides a platform for exchange and where anybody shows up and has the chance to interact with whoever else may be there on the night.
Khana Commune bills itself as ‘Open to all members of the public, it offers authentic dining based in the comfort and intimacy of a chef’s home’. Farzina who runs it, is warm, open, generous and I am really looking forward to contributing to the next commune on Thursday 2nd June.
Being slightly technophobic and not particularly good at websites, self promotion, etc, Farzina has been wonderful and showed me how to run the blog (this one) which I’m hoping will also keep me and Toto Tales on track with regular updates and also we do a tremendous variety of workshops, performances and festivals throughout the year so it will be great to be able to share them with everyone on a regular basis.
It has been interesting to be a part of two very different worlds. Brian Seward who runs i Theatre has been in Singapore for the last 15 years and so has thousands of stories to tell of his experiences here as someone devoted to childrens theatre in a country where it is not wholly appreciated. Still they have worked hard and are now the leading company for family performances in the region. ‘Under the Baobab Tree’ has sold over 8000 tickets. Marvellous!!! and we are halfway through our run and the audiences have been just wonderful!
It has been so interesting to work with them and see how they operate, which is very different to the storytelling theatre that Toto Tales currently does. It has made me think an awful lot of how to better run Toto Tales so that we are doing as much as possible to share many incredible African stories. Operating on my own as it is doing just now is very difficult and sometimes isolating so I think it’s time to open it up and involve more people.
There is so much to say but I think I shall have to set out different posts or it could get very messy! Pleasure being with the Singapore Storytelling Association, i Theatre and the Khana Commune.