SIFA 2024

Festival Director's Message

People exist along the tension of things that unify and split them apart. The themes across three Festival years – Ritual (2022), Some People (2023) and They Declare (2024) were named to reflect this notion of sameness and difference between us.

Ritual - The ceremonies that people observe – matrimonial, religious, coming of age & end of life - are imbued with acts and objects of significance. This parallels performance where details are layered with symbolism taking us into one created world after another, each blossoming with thought and feeling. Ritual reflects our commonality.

Some People –alludes to the fact that people experience the world differently. The land of your birth, the sound of your name, your social, economic, physical, mental and political context sets you on a unique life journey. The performing arts is a window opening up different perspectives enabling an expansion of personal worldviews.

They Declare – Listening to one another is challenging in a world of clashing beliefs. The Festival offers a space where people can come together and allow the performing arts to shift them – it’s a space where composite narratives touching on the ancestral, ecological, mythical, historical, fantastical and wonderous come alive on multiple stages exploring stories past, present and future. This year, SIFA invites you to take in other voices; existences and geologies, recognizing our co-existence with the natural environment and making space for different beliefs and ways of being.

Two significant veins - contemporary technology and critical writing - have run through the course of these three Festival editions. Technological advancement has informed the exploration with digital tools and AI modes across performing arts genres and stages. In SIFA 2022 a digital venue was introduced to host digital commissions and creation. Featured on the same site were contributors offering critical responses to the festival offerings thereby connecting the thoughts and ideas emanating from the Festival productions to the cultural conversations of the day.

This year marking a culmination in a three-year arc, URL TO IRL: SIFA Digital, an installation created by writer, editor and producer Hong Xinyi showcases a selection of digital as well as creative responses to SIFA performances spanning three years in an installation where digital explorations find new life in a real-life installation at Victoria Theatre atrium.

SIFA 2024 brings forth a program with a wide range of works each resonating They Declare in its own way. To offer one sobering thought - Captain Ahab’s monomaniacal declaration of vengeance towards the great white whale at all cost lends unsettling resonance to this year’s theme encapsulated in a work of exquisite beauty by French-Norwegian company Plexus Polaire led by artistic director Yngvild Aspeli in her remaking of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

My utmost thanks to Arts House Limited Executive Director Sharon Tan, the entire team at AHL who cradle SIFA so passionately and to the brilliant engine powering this festival – Christie Chua, Lisa Lip, Mervyn Quek, Victoria Lim and Ye Junmin.

On these stages, confessions are embedded in physical movement, wounds are expressed in sound, questions are asked in beauty and light – that which expresses the cascading odes from the depths of our humanity have no simple answers. These works gently seek your engagement - for you to bring your intellect and emotions to what you witness on stage in order that meanings are created collectively. Each thought is a kaleidoscope. Let’s take time to listen.

Natalie Hennedige
Festival Director


Advisory Panel


Lynette Pang


Sushma Soma

Magdalene Ew

Nelson Chia

Norhaizad Adam

Programming Committee


Madeleine Lee


Zulkifli bin Mohamed Amin

Yasmin Hannah Ramle

Eugene Lim Yingjie

Kenneth Kwok

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