Hamlet, a play set in an escape room and a dance about prime numbers at Huayi Chinese arts festival

SINGAPORE – Among the unusual offerings at next year’s Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts are a play that mixes Chinese philosophy and escape rooms, as well as a dance inspired by prime numbers.

Tickets for the 17th edition of the festival, which runs from Feb 15 to Feb 24,2019, go on sale on Tuesday (Nov 20). It is organised annually by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in celebration of Chinese New Year.

One of the headlining acts is The Esplanade and Hong Kong Arts Festival’s co-commission of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet by Beijing Li Liuyi Theatre Studio. Based on a new Chinese translation from the Shakespeare Folio Translation Project, it stars Chinese film star Hu Jun as well as stage veteran Pu Cunxin and actress Lu Fang.

Coming to Singapore for the first time, is Taiwanese theatre company Story Works, with dark comedy The Way Of Zhuang Zi, in which six strangers participate in an escape room game where they must decipher clues hidden in the teachings of Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi. Things take a sinister turn when they discover a real gun.

Theatre crosses borders with Love Letters, a play about a pen pal relationship that spans 50 years, which will be performed alternately by two real-life couples, Rensen Chan and Jo Ngai from Hong Kong and Nelson Chia and Mia Chee from Singapore’s Nine Years Theatre.

Local playwright Liu Xiaoyi returns to challenge the audience with Four Four Eight, a play set in an actual bar, inspired by the last work of iconoclastic British playwright Sarah Kane.

Dance fans can look forward to experimental dance works including Dear John by Taiwan’s M.O.V.E. Theatre, which deconstructs the process of making sound, and That Which Cannot Be Divided, a double bill about prime numbers by choreographers Bulareyaung Pagarlava from Taiwan and Albert Tiong from Singapore.

Just like previous years, music offerings will include both traditional and contemporary acts.

Renowned musician Martin Feng, from China, plays the ruan, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, and will shake up arrangements of classic Chinese tunes in his concert Up And Down The Mountain.

More contemporary music acts at this year’s festival include Hong Kong singer-songwriter Khalil Fong, young Australian R&B singer Julia Wu and Malaysian jazz songstress Yudi Yap.

During the early-bird period of Nov 20 to 30, those born in the Chinese zodiac years of the Dog and Pig can get a 10 per cent discount on purchases of at least four tickets. These must be bought in person at the Esplanade box office or Sistic authorised agents.


WHERE: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive

WHEN: Feb 15 to 24, 2019

ADMISSION: Various prices from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

INFO: www.esplanade.com/huayi

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