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Literary festival #BuySingLit dives into song and theatre with musicals and silent discos

SINGAPORE — Literature and disco might not seem like a natural pairing, but the organisers of this year’s #BuySingLit festival are looking to dispel that perception with the world’s first literary silent disco at Pasir Panjang Power Station on March 6 and 7.

Literary festival #BuySingLit dives into song and theatre with musicals and silent discos

The press launch of #BuySingLit on Feb 4, 2020. Like its 2019 run, the festival will be held over two weekends starting March 6, 2020.

SINGAPORE —  Literature and disco might not seem like a natural pairing, but the organisers of this year’s #BuySingLit festival are looking to dispel that perception with the world’s first literary silent disco at Pasir Panjang Power Station on March 6 and 7.

Picture 50 people dancing to electronic beats together, with wireless headphones around their heads and books in their hands.

Titled Sing Lit Sounds: A Silent Disco, the dance party will feature beats and grooves from artistes Mantravine, .Gif and Fauxe that were specially mixed to capture the moods of Singapore literary works such as Anggerik, a Malay language story by Isa Kamari.

Those attending will be able to listen to these soundtracks via wireless headphones, as they flip through curated sets of books and poems.

Mr Rupak George, a member of Mantravine, one of the silent disco’s featured bands, said: “Literature and music are two different mediums of art, and we want to reinvent the way they are experienced by fusing them together.” 

Singlit Sounds: A Silent Disco is just one of among the line-up of events that will make up this year’s #BuySingLit festival, a movement started four years ago by Singapore writers, publishers and literary retailers to promote Singaporean literature.

This year, it wants to expand its scope with forays into theatre, dance and music.

Like its 2019 run, the festival will be held over two weekends starting March 6, and features more than 60 activities such as dance performances for young audiences, a late-night supper session mingled with poetry readings, and a book fair for Malay literature.

These events will be held at various venues, such as Bras Basah Complex, Pasir Panjang Power Station, Wisma Geylang Serai and Jewel Changi Airport.

One activity, held at Canopy Park in Jewel Changi Airport, is “GoToRoYo!” - Together@Canopy, by the group UP Collective.

It will showcase three live music and theatre performances for children that teach them about "gotong royong", the Malay phrase that refers to community spirit.

Singlit Sounds: A Silent Disco will feature beats and grooves from artists Mantravine, .Gif and Fauxe.

As part of “GoToRoYo!” - Together, Ms Ang Zhi Hui, a theatre artiste who goes by the stage name Zeeaura, will conduct a musical performance titled She Is My Ah Ma, based on a book about Alzheimer’s disease.

She said that she wanted to use song and theatre to educate children on the experience of growing old and the challenges that may come with it.

“Something that my performance focuses on is that 'ah ma' (grandma) was always there for me when I was growing up. But when I am older, will I be there for her?” she said.

Ms Ang added that although her performance has not been finalised, she wants it to be as interactive as possible. For example, she might serve food to her audiences to portray how grandmothers cook for their families.

“I want to give children experience and exposure to art, and this is something that can help families start meaningful conversations,” she said.

Mr William Phuan, the executive director of the Singapore Book Council, said that the purpose of the festival is also to introduce Singaporeans to Singapore books and artistes.

“There’s always a sense that local art is not good enough, but people are shifting away from that now. We want to show Singaporeans that Singapore books are just as good, if not better than works from overseas,” he said.

“Ever since #BuySingLit started, we’ve seen an increased interest in local literature. These stories capture our histories and our future, and they are relevant to us and our lives.”

Mr George said that Mantravine’s music can tell those stories more meaningfully when combined with literature. 

While Mantravine’s musical contributions to Singlit Sounds: A Silent Disco are electronic-based, Mr George said that they are also deeply rooted in cultures present in Singapore, just like the stories told in their accompanying literature.

One of Mantravine’s tracks for the event is based on the Kirwani, an Indian romantic musical scale with a waltz feel.

“For some people, stories are absorbed much better with music. Each conveys as much meaning as the other. They complement one another,” Mr George added.

 Find the full event schedule for #BuySingLit 2020 or buy tickets for individual events at www.buysinglit.sg.     

Related topics

literature BuySingLit writing theatre music festival books

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