Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow – Experience 170 years of Singapore History

Come witness Singapore’s defining moments as told through articles, headlines and photographs that made Straits Times headlines since 1845.

2015 is a special year in that it not only marks Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, but also The Straits Times’ 170th anniversary since its first publication in July 15, 1845. STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow is an exhibition put up by the State’s main English daily that looks back at the headline-grabbing victories and struggles that rocked the country while contemplating her present and future. The exhibition runs till October 4, 2015 (see other event listings here).

Ask anyone how they feel about The Straits Times and you will probably get a varied response like “Propaganda lor“, “Garment’s mouthpiece la” or “My daily essential” (it’s mine at least – I read the news faithfully everyday). But beyond what we think or feel, I would say that The Straits Times and its 170-year-old archive of photos and stories is every bit an irreplaceable piece of Singapore’s history, culture and art, in a sense. Quote The Monuments Men.IMG_0961

“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.”
– Frank Stokes (George Clooney), The Monuments Men (2014)

The exhibition is categorised into six themes; Business, World, Home, Sport, Life and Forum which mirrors The Straits Times’ current core segments. As a writer and journalist of sorts, needless to say I was really looking forward to the exhibition. And I was not disappointed.

In the beginning… IMG_0964 Did you know that The Straits Times was first launched as a weekly and its founder-owner was Catchick Moses, an Armenian? The Armenians also built the Armenian Church, the first Church in Singapore.

Dedication to Growth and Progress

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Are you ready to know your country’s history? All throughout the exhibition, I was amazed by the stories and photos of Singapore that I never knew of. For instance, Singapore was always ahead of her competition in trade and commerce since the 1800s. Did you know that our Government was so aggressive in pushing for foreign investment and development that back in 1969, $6 million Texas Instruments Plant was set up in the Kallang Basin Industrial Estate in just 50 days? How amazing is that. Such is Singapore’s efficiency and fervent endeavour to bring in foreign investments into this tiny island country.

Opportunities to Succeed

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This dorky-spectacled guy is Sim Wong Hoo, founder of Creative Technologies and one of Singapore’s richest man at present. The country’s push for technological development in the 80s created opportunities for Singaporean entrepreneurs such as Sim to make his multi-millions.

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I mentioned in my previous article that one of the best ways to truly enjoy and appreciate an exhibition is to join the curator tours (if any). The two curators leading the curator tours are Straits Times correspondent Huang Lijie and ArtScience Museum project manager Julia Vasko. How fortunate was I to have made it for Vasko’s tour.

I found it rather amusing that an ‘ang-moh’ is giving the mostly Singaporean crowd a tour of the exhibition. Not to take away any credit from her, her ample knowledge that was the result of countless hours of research shined through, helping us Singaporeans know our Singapore better (Laughs). I also like it that she use the possessive adjective ‘Our’ instead of ‘Their’ or ‘Your’. That showed how Singapore has done a pretty good job in attracting talented individuals to make a home in Singapore.

Personally, I thought that she looked a lot like Natalie Dormer’s Cressida in The Hunger Games (Margery Tyrell in Game of Thrones). She even looked in my direction for this photo! I think I’m in love, she has left me spellbound. Just kidding. Or am I?

Moving on, Straits Times also saw the citizens through their transition from attap houses and villages to modern HDB flats. IMG_0980IMG_0983 It may be hard to imagine now but there was a time Singaporeans were extremely opposed to living in HDB flats, preferring to stay in their attap houses because of inconvenience in moving house, rent, etc.

Children and Education

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Back in the old days, children are conceived for the purpose of helping the family with work and household chores. Education was never a primary priority. But when that was deprived of them during World War II, the end of the war saw many children, and even women clamouring for a spot in schools in a bid to catch up with their education. Back then, it goes against social norms for women to be educated.

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It is unheard of now but back in the 1960s, brushing was not common among Singaporeans. In fact, many did not even own a toothbrush. The Ministry of Health stepped in, enforcing daily mandatory toothbrushing drills in schools. I overheard quite a few adults like the lady in this picture reminiscing and recounting those moments to their children (Laughs).

Transport, a contentious topic since 1960s

IMG_0991 Complaints has spurred the public transport industry to do better in the past, and possibly till this day (Laughs). Back then, buses were so crowded, ‘people-packers’ were hired to push people into buses.

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Two Taiwanese at the exhibition. The exhibition’s opening weekend was a big hit with both the locals and foreigners.

Rethinking about Singapore’s ‘Allies’

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Who could have thought that neighbouring country Indonesia would be so upset about the Malaysia-Singapore merger that they would be the mastermind behind some 80 bomb attacks in the country?

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Despite the tensions, Singapore’s boot out of Malaysia was sudden and swift. Late prime minister Tengku Abdul Rahman initiated the separation and spoke out on sponsoring Singapore’s admission into the United Nations, perhaps as a form of pity and restitution. I wonder will he jump out of the grave if he saw the state of his country and Singapore’s today?

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The separation meant that Singapore needed to quickly form new alliances. Envoys were quickly named and send to the various organisations to forge an understanding and alliances to secure Singapore’s future which looked bleak back then. Diplomacy was on the mind of the Government at all times, and it paid off.

As I scan through every headline and every photograph in the exhibition, I had a sudden realisation that most of the people in those stories are either in their twilight years or are no longer.

All in the photos and stories strived towards the Singaporean dream and in hindsight, who could have thought that their stories will be exhibited for the next generations to study and appreciate? Morality versus Legacy. And one day, we will no longer be and ours will be exhibited for the next generation as well. All that made the exhibition that much poignant and profound.

Fusion Fashion IMG_1047 A young and volatile nation, Singapore is constantly trying to grasp her identity on what it means to be Singaporean. One of which being the national costume. In the picture, you will find a dress of sorts; a combination from the cultures of the three main races in Singapore. Question: Would any of you ladies wear this out?

Sports that Brought People Together

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Dragonboating, sailing and kayaking may be popular with Singaporeans but did you know that its predecessor pulled in massive crowds back during its heyday? I mean, a tub race! How funny and exciting is that! (Can some water sports enthusiast bring this sport back?)

Hawkers and CoffeeshopsIMG_1040 While an integral part of Singapore’s culture, hawkers in the 1960s congested roads and caused hygiene concerns. The Government took on the mammoth task to relocate hawkers to permanent and hygienic premises. IMG_1057 You want Kopi (Coffee)? Or Kopi Siu Dai (Coffee less sweet)? Or Tak Kiu (Milo)? Watch this humourous video on coffeeshop culture and learn the different terminologies to ordering your preferred beverage at a coffeeshop.

Looking into the Future

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A future with Robocop, Chappie, iRobot, Wall-E (and hopefully no Terminator) is real.

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Contemplating our future. #BuildSG2065 is a campaign by The Straits Times and real estate company CapitaLand that showcases ideas contributed by the public on how Singapore’s future buildings, homes and green spaces will transform the way people live, work and play. The contributors both young and old are actually quite creative. One kiddo envisioned a lunar lift that takes us to the moon for a holiday while a mother envisioned baby cries powering homes and electrical appliances. Very clever.

All in all, I really enjoyed the exhibition. So much that I actually read through every headline and caption in the exhibition (which explains why I spent 4 hours there). Except for a few grammar and typo errors in the texts, the exhibition is perfect in every sense. I like that the exhibition was dissected into categories instead of the usual walk-through-the-timeline.

While curator tours were only available during the opening weekend, you can still join a guided tour by one of the qualified docents or participate in a a letterpressing and typesetting workshop (details at the end of this article).

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There are many interactive exhibits that will keep the kids entertained. I also saw many elderly Singaporeans enjoying themselves as they reminisce of the good old days. It’s guaranteed to be an fun exhibition for the entire family, young or old, local or foreigner.

Each headline, article and photograph was representative of Singapore in that particular time period. Put these pieces and you will find Singapore as she is today, both the good and the not so good. The exhibition was very informative, introspective and well-curated. All that remains is for Singaporeans to pursue our future and dreams, bringing Singapore forward as we look ahead to the next 50 years. RW

Printing from the Past: Letterpress and Typesetting

Saturday, 18 July, 2-3pm
15 August and 9 September, 3.30pm-4.30pm and 5-6pm

Limited to 12pax per session This hands-on workshop provides an introduction to letterpress printing and basic typesetting, introducing tools of the trade and the basics of typography. Participants will learn the stages of typesetting, including layout, lockup, make-ready, ink & colour and packing, and will also get the chance to operate the press, printing their own card in letterpress metal types. S$15 per person. Purchase tickets from Sistic.

Public Guided Tour

Exhibition Entrance

  • English: Sundays from 26 July 2015, 11:30am
  • Mandarin: Saturdays & Sundays from 25 July 2015, 2pm. Friday & Monday, 7 & 10 August 2015, 2pm (SG50 & National Day)

Learn the stories behind the headlines in this revealing tour of Straits Times front pages, spanning 170 years of Singapore history.

Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow

ArtScience Museum Opens 17 July to 4 October 2015

The fascinating and multi-layered stories of Singapore will be told through the lens of the nation’s oldest newspaper The Straits Times, in an upcoming free exhibition Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow. Drawing from the archives of the publication’s 170 years of covering the Republic’s growth, the exhibition will feature hundreds of images and headlines depicting pivotal milestones in Singapore since the newspaper’s launch in 1845 – some 120 years before the nation’s independence – with an eye cast on its future.

Ticket Pricing: Free

Web Link: Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The LKY Musical

We are just five days away from the premiere of The LKY Musical! Before that, here are five things you didn’t know about this epic musical.

Read my previous article on The LKY Musical here.


The LKY Musical

MasterCard Theatres, MBS

21 July to 2 August 2015

The LKY Musical is an original play with an epic span and tremendous emotional depth. It explores the tumultuous times of pre-independence Singapore, an era rich in drama. Central to the play is the figure of Lee Kuan Yew whose life, political battles and enduring relationship with his wife form the crux of the story. This is a tale of high drama, intrigue, betrayal, love and loyalty. It offers new insights into the emotional struggle faced by LKY and his friends at a time when Singapore history balanced on a knife-edge.

Ticket Pricing: $78 – $108

Web Link: The LKY Musical

VISION: Back with New Tricks and Mind-boggling Illusions

A visual spectacle of disappearing (and reappearing) sports convertible and human bodies, VISION is the spectacular illusion show it promises to be.

Returning to the Esplanade Theatre after their sellout 2011 show, VISION‘s Lawrence and Priscilla Khong are back to delight and intrigue audiences in the mystical world of illusion-theatre. VISION production by Gateway Entertainment runs from 3rd to 12th July.

I must declare that I had been apathetic for a long time when it comes to illusions. The reason? I ‘was conned’ into learning amateurish illusion tricks from a secondary school senior for a hefty price of $15-$30 a trick! But VISION restored my faith in the art form. I will try to write this review without giving away too much – It’s no fun if you already know what tricks are going to be performed next, isn’t it?

The show opens with Priscilla winding up her imaginary ballerina doll. In her imagination, the dolls comes to life as she winds it up. Daddy Lawrence comes home and persuades daughter to go to bed. Priscilla isn’t going to do so unless daddy tells her an original story he made up. Daddy tells his story which storyline was really borrowed from another story ‘Where the Wild Things Are‘; a story mummy told young Priscilla when she was young. Priscilla questions daddy “Where’s mummy?” The two shared a sweet moment when daddy performs a magic trick with a yellow ball, telling young Priscilla that when she’s feeling alone, daddy will always there for her.


Fast forward to the present, the duo is ‘performing live’ to the audiences. The duo performed a variety of illusions which also includes making a real BMW convertible appear on stage under the supervisory presence of four audience-witnesses on stage.

At present, Priscilla is as equally talented an illusionist as her father is and her frustrations boiled to the surface when Lawrence questions why she was distracted during the performance. Priscilla exploded, expressing her disappointment at her father for not being there for her, not visiting mummy’s grave and for always using magic tricks to pacify her when she can no longer be distracted by them.

Priscilla runs off into the ‘disappearing’ cage again and disappears again with Lawrence following close behind. Lawrence finds himself in Priscilla’s subconscious mind and performs a coin trick to appease the whacky characters within. Members of the audience were picked to throw ‘coins’ they found at their area into an empty cylinder held by Lawrence on stage which obviously becomes the mysterious coin-collecting apparatus. The story becomes really dark as crazy, joker-like manifestations of Priscilla’s hurts and bitterness threatens to destroy both Lawrence and Priscilla. Priscilla takes centre stage in her fantasy, Priscilla summons a masked, murderous ‘Creature’. who appears out of nowhere. The Creature unmasks itself, lo and behold, Priscilla is the Creature itself. Wasn’t she standing somewhere else?


Of course, In a family-friendly theatrical show such as VISION, the ending must be a happy one. Lawrence eventually finds forgiveness and acceptance. The two escapes the alternate universe (or Priscilla’s subconscious mind, that I am not so certain about this anymore) and performs the closing trick to the ‘2nd part of their magic show’. As with every magic show, the last must always be the most mind-blowing one. The final act involving the BMW convertible from earlier was so mind-blowing that it left me quite stupefied to be frank.

Besides the mind-boggling illusions, VISION has a pretty neat storyline and pacing. Call it misdirection, mental illusion, play of lights or special props, VISION exceeded my expectations and kept me entertained throughout. I thought that the ‘simple’ magic yellow ball as plot device was pretty cool in contrast to the other more spectacular tricks. I like the ‘live audience’ scene where Lawrence and Priscilla were performed a Mise en abyme – performing a magic show in a magic show. It reminded me very much of the Hollywood film ‘Now You See Me‘ of a show within a show – very ingenious. In another scene, Lawrence enters Priscilla’s subconscious mind, into a quirky and enigmatic alternate world where dolls have a life of their own. That quirky world became eerier and horrifying as the ‘demons’ replaces quirky characters and dolls.

Lawrence must find a way to salvage the situation and save his daughter from that alternate universe before all is lost. In that regard, Lawrence had a pretty similar encounter to Alice (in Wonderland), who also enters an alternate universe through a rabbit hole where inquisitive creatures are soon replaced by sinister beings. While at the start, we are quite clear that Lawrence and Priscilla are both in her subconscious mind, that understanding becomes rather undefinable. Are they in her subconscious mind or are they in Inception?


In that alternate universe, Priscilla transports Lawrence to his childhood days and had Lawrence perform the same yellow ball magic trick to the younger Lawrence. He tells the younger Lawrence that he has a feeling that Lawrence will become a ‘great magician someday’. Lawrence then recounts that that was the moment where he fell in love with magic. This creates a ‘problematic’ time-loop/predestination paradox where the events (and characters) of the past was impacted by the events (and characters) of the future through some form of ‘time travel’. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy not unlike films like Donnie Darko, Predestination, Butterfly Effect, etc – where an older Lawrence has to return to the past to inspire his younger self to fall in love with magic, thus repeating the endless loop – the mistake of negating his family.

The not so good: I’m not very comfortable with the excessive use of red lights which definitely creates that nightmarish presence in Priscilla’s subconscious mind. Also, there seems to be a slight disconnect between young Priscilla and older Priscilla’s account of their mother’s passing. The lead characters are rich in layers and I wish they could develop Lawrence’s story further. The story reaches a dramatic climax but ‘lands’ abruptly in a happy ending. The disappearing and reappearing acts, levitation, the car trick et cetera were definitely well executed. But I wish we could see more variety instead of the staple disappearing acts in the show.

Other than that, I am sold on this show. VISION was indeed a spectacular visual spectacle with a pretty well-written story plot and well-timed pacing to ensure that audiences are entertained throughout the show. The VISION set was also extravagant, adding to the entire viewing experience. Lawrence, Priscilla and team clearly outdone themselves on this one. Despite similar storyline and tricks, VISION manages to reinvent themselves from their 2011 show, keeping the performance ‘fresh’.

Many thanks to VISION for the media invite. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would recommend it to anyone and everyone looking to be entertained by pretty awesome illusions. RW


Esplanade Theatre

Opens 3 to 12 July 2015

Singapore’s only professional illusionist duo Lawrence and Priscilla Khong will once again bring to the audience a world-class performance that promises to be even bigger and grander on all fronts than ever before.

Ticket Pricing: $28 – $118

Web Link: VISION 2015

Another Country: Exploring The Inseparable Relationship Between Two Countries

Directed by Singapore’s Ivan Heng and Malaysia’s Jo Kukathas, Another Country takes us on a trip through our shared memories and divergent dreams with the most provocative, humorous and unlikely texts.

Do you have a sibling whom you did love to hate? Whose character and yours’ is a worlds apart despite coming from the same loins? Welcome to Another Country, W!ld Rice’s latest Causeway-spanning production. Another Country runs in the Drama Centre Theatre from 25 June to 11 July 2015.

Connecting the dots between the two rival countries whose culture and values are conjoined in more ways than one, the two-and-a-half hour production was broken up into two segments; Sayang Singapura, a selection of 35 Singapore texts curated by Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at, and Tikam-Tikam: Malaysia@Random 2, a selection of 29 Malaysia texts curated by Malaysian playwright Leow Puay Tin.

There is a twist though. Instead of Singaporean actors taking on Singapore’s text and Malaysia’s actors on Malaysia’s text, the production had Malaysian actors performing the scenes from Singapore’s most iconic poems, novels, plays and writing, and vice versa.

Another Country by W!LD RICE - Photo Credit Wong Horng Yih courtesy of W!LD RICE 4 copyPhoto Credits: Wong Horng Yih, courtesy of W!ld Rice

The show opens with the Malaysian actors reenacting the most recognisable scene from The Malay Annals where Palembang prince Sang Nila Utama spots the mysterious and majestic orange bodied, black headed and white neck breast creature whom he calls the ‘lion’.

Moving at a steady pace, the actors transit effortlessly from scene to scene, exploring some of Singapore’s most representative yet understated writings and stories. While national service is a stated-funded celebrated affair, there was a time where our boys tried all ways and means to skip national service via Petition to the Colonial Governor for National Service Exemption. Unlike our Western counterparts, we are known for our traditional beliefs and heterosexual standpoints. Even so, there’s more to the seemingly prim and proper Singapore than meets the eye in Michael Chiang’s Private Parts, exploring the dynamics of Singaporeans and sex-change in the city state.

Witness the infamous bribery of Malaysian officers in action, explore Singapore’s fanaticism to one-up each other through the lives of ordinary Singaporean housewives in Arthur Yap’s 2 mothers in a hdb playground, or hear stories from the other side (Lim Chee Siong) in Tan Jing Quee’s LCS: In Memoriam.

Another Country by W!LD RICE pic 1 (taken by Albert Lim KS)Photo Credit: Albert Lim KS, courtesy of W!ld Rice

Forget about the Man in White or the struggle for independence story for a while. Ditching the highly marketable ‘Singapore Story’ narrative that Singapore is known for, Sayang Singapura takes a hard look into the stories and events from the other side of history that make and shape us to who we are today. “It would indeed be a pity if we sidelined many of our stories in the service of a singular triumphalist narrative known as the Singapore Story”, as quoted from Sa’at.

Before the 15 minute intermission, audiences were invited to participate in a round of Tikam-Tikam (Malay for choosing randomly, also a common Malay game) to determine the sequencing of the Malaysian text to be acted out within the hour-long Tikam-Tikam: Malaysia@Random 2 segment curated by Leow. This also means that no two show is the same with the exact sequence.

Unlike the melancholy and seriousness in the Sa’at’s selection, Leow’s selection of Malaysia’s text was a more lighthearted and humourous one, perhaps highlighting the difference in tonality of both countries’ style of play and governance. Clueless to Malaysian texts, I was a little lost during the second half. But there were also several ‘aha’ moments throughout the show as the actors race through the various scenes in that hour. Didn’t Singapore’s text also have a scene from The Malay Annals? Why is The Chef’s Secret Chicken rice recipe being explained under Malaysia’s section ah? Wait a second, isn’t Emily of Emerald Hill a Singapore play?

Singapore Janice Koh’s monologue performance of a pork-loving toilet cleaner in curator Leow’s Ang Tau Mui hits a raw nerve and revealed the fundamental racial problem that plagues Malaysia till this day. I was particularly amused by Mark Teh’s Daulat: Long Live, denoting the common citizens’ satirical salutation and dig at political leaders in Malaysia which also reminds me of Singapore.

Another Country by W!LD RICE pic 2 (taken by Albert Lim KS)Photo Credit: Albert Lim KS, courtesy of W!ld Rice

Putting together a production piece with a combined total of more than 50 of both countries’ most acclaimed texts into a two-and a-half-hour show is not easy at all. But the immensely talented creative team from both sides of the Causeway made it look simple. The combined cast of Malaysia’s Ghafir Akbar, Sharifah Amani, Anne James, Alfred Loh, Iedil Putra and Singapore’s Sharda Harrison, Gani Karim, Janice Koh, Lim Yu-Beng and Siti Khalijah Zainal were phenomenal. Despite the varied intensity and emotions experienced across different excerpts, I found it easy to transit between the different scenes.

While the entire production felt like an extremely potent Rojah dish, I do wish that there was more time set aside to explore the rich themes behind the texts from both countries. But it’s a two-and a-half-hour show after all and something’s gotta give, right? Also, audiences who do not have any literary background or are not acquainted with literary texts from their own country might experience some difficulty in understanding the play.

As we examine the unique relationship between Singapore and Malaysia, we see two countries with a totally different present. Yet through it all, we continue to share memories through our deeply connected past which so thoroughly weaves both countries together. Yes, we may laugh at each other, but perhaps we could do with a little less (or more) seriousness, or to be more (or less) laid-back. If you are a literary buff, you got to watch Another Country for it will leave you wanting more. RW

Many thanks to W!ld Rice for the media invite.


Drama Centre Theatre

Opens 25 June to 11 July 2015

Ticket Pricing: $45 – $75


Giveaway: Win Tickets to VISION, Live Illusion-Theatre Spectacle

Stand a chance to win a pair of tickets for you and your buddy to catch VISION, Asia’s largest live illusion-theatre show.

Remember the good ol’ days when you were easily bewildered and charmed by the sawing somebody into half’, disappearing rabbits, doves that appear out of nowhere, mindblowing card stunts, or your uncle’s coin-eating ‘magic’ trick?

Those were the days when we were young and naive to think that those tricks were ‘magical’ and every bit real. Today, words like ‘magic’ or ‘magicians’ had made way for ‘illusions’ and ‘illusionists’. Maybe illusions don’t excite us as much as before, but there’s still something special about watching a live illusion performance unfold right before your own eyes.


From 3-12 July, come experience VISION, the exciting world of illusion­‐theatre performed by Singapore’s only professional illusionist duo, Lawrence and Priscilla Khong. Returning to Esplanade Theatre after a successful 2011 debut held at the same venue, the Gateway Entertainment’s 2015 production presents a plethora of brand-new illusions which promises an ‘unmasked’ view for the audience.

The ‘illusionary-drama’ plot centres around Priscilla’s ‘domain’, an alternate dimension in the depths of fantasy and magic-filled subconscious, where she uses her powers for selfish reasons which include capturing her own father. It’s tough to be a illusionist these days. “Perform illusion also must have storyline sia!” Sorry my Singaporean persona can’t resist.

It is mentioned that an impressive crew of people are part of this year’s production, but what got my attention was Don Wayne who co-developed the illusions with the Khongs. Wayne was the principle magic creator for illusionist, David Copperfield (THAT guy who walked through the Great Wall of China, and made the Statue of Liberty disappear).


Yet that does not take away the glimmer from the father-daughter themselves. Lawrence and Priscilla were named Asia’s First Elite Diamond Award Recipients, an award equivalent to the Oscars in the world of magic, and held a sold-out tour in China just last year.

Be dazzled by brand new illusions, tighter storyline, world class choreography, cutting edge sets and stunning backdrops. Sit back and enjoy, VISION promises to be one magical extravaganza.


I would like to give you and your buddy a pair of tickets to catch VISION the illusion-theatre show, Live! All you have to do is follow one of two (or both) instructions below to participate in the giveaway.

1. Instagram

  • Like and repost my ‘VISION Giveaway’ Instagram post
  • Tag @reuelwrites
  • Tag the person whom you want to bring with you to the show
  • Make sure to set your account to public

2. Facebook

  • Like and share my ‘VISION Giveaway’ Facebook post
  • Tag the person whom you want to bring with you to the show
  • Make sure to set your account to public

Perform one task for one chance, perform both tasks for two chances! 

Giveaway closes at 8pm Thursday, 18 June 2015. A random name generator will be used to pick the winner (name). Winner will be announced on Facebook and Instagram. This contest is open to all residing in Singapore.

Remember to set your account to public. The draw is strictly random (I’m not going to give the tickets to my father, my auntie or my cousin, hor). An online random name generator will be used to pick the winner by his or her (Facebook/Instagram) name.

See you at VISION! RW


Esplanade Theatre

Opens 3 to 12 July 2015

Ticket Pricing: $28 – $118

Web Link: VISION 2015

Terms and conditions:

  1. Once selected, the winner will be announced, contacted and informed on how to retrieve the tickets. Once contacted, failure to respond within two days from time of contact will result in the winner forfeiting the tickets during which another winner will be announced.
  2. All decisions made by will be final.
  3. reserves the right to amend any or all parts of the giveaway, and/or modify these terms and conditions without prior notice. In case of any dispute arising out of or in connection with the giveaway, the decision of shall be final.

6 Things to Do at library@esplanade

“Huh? What’s there to do in a library other than to read books?” Did you know you can watch films, jam, have a latte and catch free performances at the library? The library@esplanade is Singapore’s first – and very under-utilised – public library dedicated to the performing arts; namely in music, dance, theatre, and film.

With a floor area of 2,308 square meters (smaller than the new Kinokuniya), the library carries some 110,000 volumes of materials – music scores, movie screenplays, play scripts, dance notations, classical and popular CDs and video recordings of films, operas, dance performances and theatre productions. That’s amazing.

Seriously, for a public library dedicated to the arts, I’m sure they could have come up with a better name than library@esplanade, but I digress. For the parents in desperation to find (wholesome) activities to keep these little munchkins occupied during the June holidays, you might want to bring them to the library@esplanade. Here are 6 things you can do at the library to while your time away in a productive way.

1. Catch Free Performances at the Open Stage

IMG_9901 The Open Stage is a zone specially set aside for performances, talks, workshops, exhibitions, film screenings and other outreach events. There are performances and events of all sorts taking place at the Open Stage every weekend (the library team is doing amazing work coordinating all these events week after week!). Singaporeans and foreigners are more than welcome to write in to express their interest with performing an item there. All Open Stage events are free for all and seats are also provided (on a first come first serve basis of course).

Best of all, this platform allows for the unearthing of obscure talents within our humble country. I remembered admiring a Russian pianist working her magic and belting out piano classics on the baby grand piano – a permanent fixture in the Open Stage. The performance was free but it was on the same level as a paid performance, that I can attest to. There are many interesting performances coming up happening over the next few weekends. You can keep track of the latest schedule of events at the library’s Facebook Page.

2. Watch a Film with Your Buddies

IMG_9890 Though notably small compared to its neighbouring library (National Library Board), the library houses an impressive collection of films at its ‘Film Village’. Watch film classics like ‘Gone with the Wind’ or blast aliens with the ‘Men in Black’ and other latest films. Expect to find films that date back to the 50s all the way to films released a year or even months ago. Yes, their film archives are very updated and you can borrow them – for free!

The library is also Singapore’s only public library to possess rated (NC16 and M18) films for loan. There are also three very cozy screening rooms within the library premise for you to book – for a nominal fee of $5.50 per hour. The suggested number of people per room is four, so that’s works up to around $2.80 per person for a two hour film. Sweet.

For the serious film connoisseurs, there’s the closed archive (Asian Film Archive collection, the Arts Alive Collection, special/unreleased films and recordings and ephemera collection). Advance requests can be made to view the collection.

3. Immerse in the World of Dance

IMG_9886 This is truly every dancers’ mecca in Singapore. Here at the ‘Dance Village’, you will find books on videos of dance classics, dance notations and every single dance-related topic you can think of. The Dance Village is conducive for just about every activity (including taking a nap) and is extremely picturesque – I don’t think you can get a bad picture from any angle. Plus, this rectangular-shaped area is fully parqueted. It reminds me of my days of practising jazz and doing across-the-floor with a dance club at the dance studio. Ah, the good ol’ days.

4. Jam or Play an Instrument

IMG_9897Taken with permission

Jammers rejoice. No need to load your Ipads with scores and all when you’re in the motherland of music scores. The Silent Studio uses JamHub Mixer technology to channel all sounds from various electric instruments to the musicians’ headphones so that you get to practise your craft in the heart of the city without having angry library patrons staring down at you. (Good quality) instruments are also available in the studio. The Silent Studio is available for booking at $6.50 per hour.

You can now hold your own piano recital in Singapore’s Esplanade… Well sorta. Get inspired and play something in the Piano Practice Room. The room is available for booking at $6.10 per hour.

Slots for both gets snapped up fast, so be quick.

5. Read, Drink, Love

IMG_9884 “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” said C.S. Lewis. Let’s have both. Crumbs by Two Blur Guys at Esplanade is an offshoot of the renowned burger cafe, TwoBlurGuys. Crumbs by Two Blur Guys also serves gourmet coffee on-the-go. The cafe is readers’ favourite haunt for people watching, reading (or studying) and consuming a light meal. In fact, you can almost find the cafe fully occupied every time.

6. Or Simply, Rest

IMG_9887 This under-utilised library is an ideal place to rest up, enjoy the air-con and recover some hitpoints before heading back to the Marina Bay area. Did you know that the library has a seating capacity for approximately 200 people? Soak into the arty atmosphere, or enjoy the Marina Bay scenery.

Near the entrance, you might have spotted the those red, old looking seats that look like they are from a different era. But those seats are actually the refurbished vintage theatre chairs from the old Capitol Theatre donated by Capitol Investment Holdings and installed in the library in early 2014. RW

The library@esplanade is located at the 3rd floor of the Esplanade.

For more information, call 6332 3255 or check out their Facebook Page.