Performing Arts Works To Look Out For During SIFA 2024, This Year’s Singapore International Festival of Arts

An award-winning opera performance that recreates an entire beach indoors, with performers lamenting Earth’s decline; or an experimental look at Artificial Intelligence, by using AI itself as part of the performance. These weird and wonderful explorations, along with plenty of acclaimed international works and commissions, are part of the exciting line-up for this year’s Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA), which returns from 17 May to 2 June.

Brought to us by Arts House Limited (AHL) and commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC), this year’s festival, long embraced as the pinnacle platform for the performing arts, features the theme “They Declare”, meant to express the multiplicity of voices represented by the diverse line-up, where performances span across music, dance, theatre, and visual arts.

The SIFA 2024 programme includes 5 newly-commissioned original productions and 7 international presentations, as well as programmes specially catered for families and children.

This year’s works also bring contemporary issues to the foreground, as intended by Festival Director Natalie Hennedige and her team as they “continue to build a festival that responds to the now, encouraging all present to embrace difference, and different ways of being”.

These include performances that explore our coexistence with the natural environment, in light of the climate crisis, or the beautifully weaving together of technology and art in multimedia, multi-disciplinary works that provoke us to ponder our existence alongside a digital world. Read on to discover four key SIFA 2024 highlights that we’re most excited by!

The Romeo
by Trajal Harrell (US/CH)

Photo credit: Orpheas Emirzas.

As one of the acclaimed international acts in this year’s roster, expect it to shake up your expectations. See, “The Romeo” is less like the Shakespearean play it was inspired by, and more a reimagining of the titular character, this time through the instinctive impulse of dance. Helmed by American dancer, choreographer and SIFA 2016 alumni Trajal Harrell, this is a large-scale piece featuring a dozen performers, one that takes after the passioned enthusiasm of a young lover who believed he could conquer death.

True to Harrell’s style, it also combines and juxtaposes various dance languages, such as court dance, pastoral dance, and even voguing, into a speculative style full of fluid movements. The outfits are one to watch too, and are at time bizarre to accommodate a multitude of protagonists — interestingly, these costumes have been designed by the choreographer himself!


Show Times: 18 May, Sat, 8PM ; 19 May, Sun, 3pm
Location: victoria theatre
More information HERE.

Una Isla
by Agrupación Señor Serrano (ES)

Photo credit: Agrupacion Señor Serrano.

Always wondered about the limits of Artificial Intelligence? Here’s a piece straight out of a sci-fi film, which explores that, these days, very tenuous boundary. Una Isla is a deep-dive into the realm of AI and performance, and through a fusion of choreography, live video, AI-generated music, and holographic sculptures, blurs the lines between human and machine, while exploring identity and coexistence in a digital world — highly apt for our times.

Presented by Spanish theatre company Agrupación Señor Serrano, this experimental work integrates both physical and digital performance languages onto one stage, where the performers themselves are conversing with AI, where they then generate text, images and music. This then brings us to consider, not just the possibilities of machines, but the nature of our own humanity and the meaning of our connections and interactions. For a local twist, our own Singaopore-based dance group ScRACH MarCs have also been invited to be part of the performing cast.

Show Times: 18 May, Sat, 8PM ; 19 May, Sun, 5pm
Location: SOTA Drama Theatre
More information here.

ANGELA (a strange loop)
by Susanne Kennedy & Markus Selg (DE)

Photo credit: Julian Röder.

Who is Angela, and why should we care? This close-up of a woman’s life, told in an inventive form that marries stage performance with innovative use of multimedia technology, provokes us to think about our own lives while she’s making sense of hers.

Having earlier premiered at Avignon Arts Festival in 2023 to rave responses, this is the Asian premiere of ANGELA (a strange loop), brought to us by Germany-based artists Susanne Kennedy and Markus Selg, as they take the character Angela through everyday experiences from eating dinner and waking and sleeping, to illness, giving birth, and ageing, all in an endless loop. We’re then led to fundamental questions of existence, identity, and consciousness, and as the lines between virtual and real start to blur, the nature of reality as well.

Show Times: 23 May, thu & 24 May, fri; 8pm
Location: victoria Theatre
More information HERE.

by Safuan Johari (SG) & Eddie Elliott (NZ)

Photo credit: (Left) Atamira Dance Company, (Right) A Syadiq.

Here’s a festival-commissioned work specially curated for local audiences — particularly, a collaboration between Singapore music artist Safuan Johari and Māori Choreographer Eddie Elliott, inspired by the power of the voice. SUARA / ORO RUA represents an interesting intersection of the two cultures, seen in the name of the piece too, with ‘suara’ meaning ‘voice/sound’ in Malay, and ‘oro rua’ meaning ‘to resonate’ in Māori.

The setting is this: a post-anthropocentric future where the world has gone silent, until the moment when fossilised voices once again emerge, a pivotal moment that too explores the sonic history of the Earth and takes us on a  journey through time, movement and sound.

Along the way, we’re witnessing original music composed and directed by Safuan Johari, and performed by Singaporean musicians and vocalists with a mix of string and electronic as well, alongside dance and movement choreographed by Eddie Elliott and performed by New Zealand dance artists. Furthermore, prominent singers in our local music scene, including Aisyah Aziz and weish are featured as part of the vocalist line-up too.

Show Times: 24 May, fri & 25 May, sat; 8pm | 26 may, sun, 3pm
Location: singtel waterfront theatre at esplanade
More information HERE.

The Prose and the Passion
by Haresh Sharma & Chong Tze Chien (SG)

Photo credit: Joseph Nair.

Literature lovers would appreciate this theatrical adaptation of the letters, writing and life of E.M. Forster, one of the greatest English novelists of all time, now re-contextualised into a play that see fictional characters from Forster’s novels — particularly, A Passage to India and Maurice — going across space and time, and oddly enough, interacting with one another in an imaginative shared universe.

Celebrated local playwright Haresh Sharma, best known for his play Off Centre, and director Chong Tze Chien, also beloved in the theatre scene and just as award-winning, have come together for The Prose and the Passion, which sees both creative talents collaborating for a production that, through lyricism and fantasy, finds the heart of human connection amidst, perhaps, inevitable loneliness.

Show Times: 31 May, fri & 1 jun, sat; 8pm | 2 jun, sun, 3pm
Location: victoria theatre
More information HERE.


WIN! We’re giving away 3 pairs of passes to three shows on the SIFA 2024 line-up — The Romeo, SUARA / ONO, and The Prose and the Passion — worth $124 each! Head over to our Facebook page to participate in our contest. 


Singapore International Festival of Arts 2024, happening 17 May to 2 June. More information on SIFA 2024 and its programmes,  at