With the return of live audiences to the Pasir Panjang Power Station, the team reflect on a game-changing 2020 and what the new shows mean for them
At the start of 2020, the world was full of endless possibilities. It was a brand new decade, and, yes, there were uncharted, exciting frontiers yet to conquer.
Little did we know an uncharted terrain would be the arrival of the pandemic.
At Pasir Panjang Power Station, this meant almost everything was put on hold for months – even though the team were still busy marinating great ideas for programming when everyone could congregate.
Now, it appears that there’s an intimation of good things on the horizon: two events, one week apart, signal the return of live, in-person shows, with social distancing measures in place, of course.
On Sunday, 20 December, musicians Aisyah Aziz, Lorong Boys and Nathan Hartono will inject some festive cheer at a concert series, Flock – The Xmas Edition, which comprises a matinee show and an evening show.
The following Sunday on 27 December, four writers and two illustrators, namely Charlene Shepherdson, Crispin Rodrigues, Gwee Li Sui and Marylyn Tan, will participate in Thread Presents CONVEY, an interdisciplinary event where they will collaborate to create a poem and a work of art.
Among the first batch of live concerts/performances with audiences in attendance, these two shows at the Power Station herald in the third phase of Singapore’s reopening, which will start on 28 December.
We speak to the team, and asked them their feelings about the return of live shows, and what they hope the two shows will achieve:
“Sure, there are many more checks and regulations, no thanks to the pandemic, but we’ll make sure we get them done, despite the shorter turnaround time.”
“I think we all feel cooped up from not being able to travel, so having live shows coming back give us something to be excited about, whether as an attendee or being part of the organising team. That if we are able to do it safely, it sets a precedent to future shows even those not run by us, and hopefully this means that we can start the ball rolling again for our industry.”
“It’s good that live shows are coming back, and I’m happy to prep for them. There’s a lot more work and planning involved as a result of the safe management measures. It’s people-focused. We need to do zoning for the audience, segregate queues, and so forth.
On stage, we need to take extra care about the performers – where they can stand, and making sure they can perform to their best ability. It’d be the first time the audience would be surrounding the stage. So look out for it!”
“I’m excited, but admittedly, this is very challenging because of the additional rules. It’s really thrilling, tiring, and thrilling.”
“I’m very excited. We’ve been free too long! Happy to be busy. Everyone in the company knows what to do. And we all miss bonding!”
“Singaporeans have been working towards the transition into Phase 3 by keeping safe and vigilant during this pandemic. Livestream was a trend that suited the situation.
Now that vaccines are being made available to the public, people will feel safe to come out from their bubble, soak up the atmosphere, experience the new normal in attendance of events. Things will be different they say, but like wearing a face mask, it eventually becomes a routine one adapts to. So let’s get entertained and create a difference by being the generation that sets the new normal.
Flock and CONVEY support artists. It is important that their messages will impact the audience. The creative industry is essential. Without them, it would have been a really dreadful eight months since the Circuit Breaker began.
I hope that Flock and Convey will be able to lure the audience into a semi-private affair, considering the targeted number of attendees, where they soak in the sea of emotions through lyrics, tunes, words and pictures and be involved in the event as much they can to gain the full experience of what has been curated for the audience, to the end goal: BRING EVENTS BACK TO LIFE!”
“In-person small events had been slowly coming back since the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth raised the number of people, from 50 persons to 100 persons, to be allowed in some places of worship, from August. These are baby steps needed. The introduction of pre-event testing is for bigger capacity and it will be interesting to see if patrons are game and willing to go with it.
As for our events, we chose Christmas as a theme for Flock, as it’s timely introspection, as well as a time for togetherness. Sure, it’s a challenge given the safety measures, but we hope the performance will give some joy and a sense of communion to the patrons.
For CONVEY, we know many people are afraid of the literary arts, and we take it upon ourselves to see if we can create a work which is engaging. I’m a fan of having something for everyone, so I hope there’s something in this presentation that appeals to some, the curious or even the sceptical.”
“The key is being careful. We have been blessed with the situation in Singapore, and we need to tread with caution to keep it up. It is definitely a promising thing that we are allowed to have in-person events again, and everybody needs to recognise this, play their part and act responsibly so that we can continue on this path for our community.
Christmas is a very special time for me. I joke that my playlist includes Christmas music no matter the occasion or date. There is a unique feeling of warmth and belonging when I think about spending time with my family on Christmas and I believe I’m not the only one who feels this way. With this year being as it has, many have not – and for Christmas may not – be able to spend quality time with those they love, and it has taken a toll on all of us some way or another. I hope that with Flock –The Xmas Edition, we are able to bring joy and warmth to our audience, a sense of belonging, family and cheer with our concerts.
Thread Presents CONVEY is a new concept to me personally, and I hope that it is a new and exciting experience for all who attend as well! It is impossible to predict what the end-work will be, and that is the beauty of it. Hopefully, if not already present, this event will ignite an interest in the arts for those who attend, as well as showcase Pasir Panjang Power Station as a chameleon in the world of spaces.”
“After such a tough year, I’ve a mixed sense of both excitement and relief to see the return of in-person events. I hope that this is now the start of a gradual and safe expansion of events and we can get back to the business of presenting great live entertainment.
Regardless of the artistic genre, there’s very little that can beat a quality live performance and this is what will be delivered in these two events. The performers will be tapping into almost 12-months of pent-up demand from a knowledgeable and passionate crowd and I’m expecting a release of emotion from fans, performers and those working backstage.”
“Yes, it’s going to be a massive challenge, as the Power Station isn’t purpose-built like a concert hall or theatre. One positive thing I can see from this is how we can finetune the operations and enhance the audience experience with all the safety measures in place.”
“I’m happy for our industry as a whole. We’re taking steps in the right direction. I feel excited and nervous, stressed but relieved that we’re slowly but surely getting to experience live concerts, festivals and the performing arts again.
Nothing beats experiencing the arts live. There’s something magical and cathartic about it all. We’ve taken all the precautionary steps, and have put in place safe management measures to ensure that both you and I are kept safe. It’s about time we head back to our performing arts venues, to grow and learn together, and to show our support.
Christmas this year feels unlike any other, as we’re not allowed to gather with more than five of our nearest and dearest at any one time. But I hope experiencing Flock – The Xmas Edition live will bring comfort and joy, as you soak up the live music, and bask in the festive spirit. Aisyah, Nathan and the Lorong Boys (David, Rit, Jon, Joachim and Eugene), our partners and our entire team have worked tirelessly to make this happen, so join us in celebrating the return of live music again.
With CONVEY, I find the concept of Exquisite Corpse so interesting, because you never know what to expect. That is precisely what I love about the arts. There is always room for imagination, interpretation and different perspectives to come together. I’m very excited to see the final poem and artwork in person. I love that we’re bringing together poets and illustrators of different styles and background, and giving them the room and creative freedom to present whatever their hearts’ desire. For audiences, I hope you come with zero expectations, and leave feeling inspired.”
Zahara Abu Bakar
“Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are almost back to normal!”
Flock – The Xmas Edition takes place on Sunday, 20 December, 2.30pm and 8:30pm. Admission: $35, $50 and $70 from 24owls.sg/tickets
Thread Presents CONVEY takes place on Sunday, December 27, at 2pm and 3.45pm.
Admission: $15 from 24owls.sg/tickets