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Nabilah Said
Sunday, Aug 24, 2014

Singapore

Beauty of the night

The Straits Times | Nabilah Said | Sunday, Aug 24, 2014

By day, he is known as Andruew Tang. But come night time, he will transform into The Statement, a spandex-wearing fighter in the vein of 1990s era wrestling star Shawn Michaels.

That is right - wrestling will be part of the madcap programming for the Singapore Night Festival this year.

The festival, organised by the National Museum of Singapore, takes place Aug 22 and 23, as well as Aug 29 and 30.

All performances and activities will take place between 7pm and 2am.

The organisers seem to be pulling out all the stops this year. The theme is Bold And Beautiful and the eclectic line-up includes a frenetic improvisation performance and a bustling festival village at Cathay Green with food stalls and live music. This is on top of the colourful wrestlers.

Says Mr Tang, 25, operations director of Singapore Pro Wrestling, on the organisation's participation in the festival: "It's a chance for us to promote professional wrestling as an art and hopefully attract more fans."

With more than 130 activities spread across 10 venues in the arts and heritage district of Bras Basah and Bugis, the festival offers something for everyone.

As in past editions of the event, Armenian Street will be closed to traffic on festival nights, which will create a street carnival experience aptly termed the Block Party.

If last year's festival is any gauge, this year could see almost 500,000 visitors over both weekends.

The festival has a theme for the first time. And no, Bold And Beautiful does not refer to the soap opera of a similar name, but to the nature of the acts, which are either aesthetically stunning or grand in vision and scale, or both.

Says the festival's creative director, Ms Christie Chua, 35: "We are challenging ourselves to push boundaries to pursue bold artistic directions, breaking conventional presentations to engage the audience anew. It will be a visually stunning, moving and multi- sensory experience for all our visitors."

One shining example is festival headliner Earth Harp. American artist William Close will transform the National Museum into a giant harp. Accompanied by a guitarist and drummer, he will jam with other acts such as local Chinese drum act ZingO. With laser lights ablazing, it is like watching a rock concert, ritual and visual spectacle all rolled into one.

Also hoping to bend genres and expectations is the Block Party, hosted by Armenian Street occupants The Substation, Peranakan Museum and Timbre. It will see a hodgepodge of entertainers and performers, including wrestlers, occupying the street.

These include outdoor spaces in the case of the wrestling ring, and indoor spaces such as the former premises of Select Books at 51 Armenian Street. It is one of the new components introduced to breathe new life into the seven- year-old festival, which has become an essential part of the cultural calendar here.

Another new component is the Festival Village at Cathay Green, which offers a wide selection of food and drinks, including chicken rice balls, cheese steaks and Dutch pancakes, or poffertjes. There will also be live music and film screenings.

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