Posts Tagged ‘Octoburst 2014’

After a morning with the grandparents at Botanic Gardens, the kids and I spent an entire afternoon at the Esplanade enjoying the various Octoburst offerings. There were so many things to do, and as it was, we only did a fraction of what was available.

First, Asher and I caught Something Very Far Away by Unicorn Theatre while Ellery had a nap.

As Ellery was still napping when we came out, Asher went to check out Book Stop, a book swop event. I’ve never actually been for a book swop before, so even I was excited to see what was available and what treasures we might find. In the end he settled on The Fish Who Could Wish, a funny book about a fish who can wish anything and have it come true, but he made one very bad wish that ended all that. Ellery now keeps asking to go for the book swop too so that he can exchange his book for another. So we might have to go down again…

Checking out the books at the book swop

Checking out the books at the book swop

The sticker reads "I swopped this book at Octoburst"

The sticker reads “I swopped this book at Octoburst”

We then went for Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Classical Ballet by SDT. I’m not kidding when I say I must have seen a hundred Elsas that day. There were even families with more than one Elsa in them! Gosh. Poor Anna. She’s the real protagonist, I think, just that her sister has the prettier dress and the headline song.

After that the boys then wrote a postcard each at Octopost to a secret someone and posted their postcards in specially designed letterboxes with birds’ heads sticking out. It was a colourful and attractive set-up, and the boys carefully looked at all the birds before deciding which to give their postcard to. I can’t wait for that secret someone to receive the postcards!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam on the right

In the concourse was also this eye-catching installation by Tiffany Singh called Revision of the Optics. I loved how the artwork captured both the sense of sight and smell. The vibrant colours were perfect for a children’s festival, and the scents that drifted past your nose, especially the smells of lavender and dried chilli, added another dimension to the work. I think there was supposed to be the element of sound from the tinkling of bells that hung from the ribbons, but as the air was still there was no tinkling.

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Beautiful rainbow colours

Beautiful rainbow colours

The boys were getting hungry so we started to head for Gluttons Bay, but stopped by the giant Snakes and Ladders for a while. In theory the children will take turns to roll the dice and move on the board. In practice, it’s who is the most assertive that will get the dice. I suppose it’s like that everywhere though huh? Unfortunately for Ellery, he kept missing his turn and got quite upset about it. I tried to encourage him to speak up for himself, but instead he gave up playing altogether. I was quite disappointed, and I couldn’t coax him to go back into the game. Instead he wanted to move on to aMaze Me. I guess there could have been another dice perhaps. But at the same time, it’s good for children to learn to either take turns, or to speak up for themselves.

Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders

Happily, we bumped into Del and Anya there and we decided to head for dinner altogether before the kids went to play at aMaze Me. It’s always nice with the cousins, and it was a real bonus for me to bump into them. As expected, the ribbon maze was more colourful and complicated now than when we went a week ago. To the delight of the boys, they found they could sit and lie at certain parts. They couldn’t quite climb on it as they had wished for, but it was good enough for them. Ellery also specially went to check on his ant bridge and did some maintenance and improvement works. I was happy to see that it was still there at all! I had half-thought that someone might have removed it for some administrative reason or other like it’s “damaging the tree”, “not part of the exhibition space”, or something else. It was a lovely example of allowing kids to think out-of-the-box and for them to enjoy seeing the results of it.

Chilling on the ribbons

Chilling on the ribbons


Anya adding her ribbon to this maze

Ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

The ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

As we headed home I asked the boys if they had a good Children’s Day, and they gave me a resounding “Yes!”

Octoburst is on until Monday, 6 Oct, and there are plenty of free and ticketed events still on. Go check out their website for more information on the various programmes.

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How do I begin to describe this show and this story?

Words will not quite do it justice – and that’s probably why the show itself is wordless – but I’ll try.

Something Very Far Away by Unicorn Theatre is about a man, Kepler, who loves two things beyond all others – the cosmos and his wife, Tomasina. When he loses her suddenly in a tragic accident, he goes to extraordinary lengths to relive the last moments he spent with her. He knows that the further into space he looks, the further into the past he sees. So he embarks on an epic journey to travel deep into space so that he can look back into the past and see his dear wife.

Tomasina joining Kepler as he does some stargazing (Photo taken from the SISTIC website)

Kepler and Tomasina at the circus before the freak accident happened (Photo taken from the SISTIC website)

It’s supposed to be a children’s show, but it deals with very adult issues like death, loss, and a deep, enduring love. It was so moving, I found strong emotions welling up inside me and I had to hold back my tears.

You feel the deep affection between Kepler and Tomasina. Are amused how he’s the serious one and she’s so lively and playful. You feel intense sadness from Kepler’s sudden loss, not least because of the moving live music, but also because of the extremely delicate puppetry work by the performers. A little lowering of the head, a little movement of his hand, an appropriate stillness. You also feel the excitement, determination and hope as he builds his spaceship and flies off into deep space, literally to the end of the universe, to keep the memory of Tomasina alive. The way the emotions are conveyed, it doesn’t feel like you are watching puppets at all. You just feel.

Kepler’s shock after the accident (Photo taken from the Unicorn Theatre’s website)

The story itself is a simple one, but the emotions aroused are big and, I think, hard for young children to fully understand. It’s unusual for a children’s show to deal with death and sadness, but it’s something real that children have the face as they get older and experience loss themselves. The depth of Kepler’s love is also quite beyond the understanding of young children. There are a few light-hearted moments, but because of the themes, I think 6 years-old is the absolute minimum age. Even then many of the nuances will be lost on them. It’s really more appropriate for older, more mature children.

But what will be of endless fascination to audiences young and old is how the show is done. With four cameras, mini-stages with multiple sets, live-animation with hand puppets and shadow puppetry, the audience is treated to a backstage view of how a film is produced. The action from the four cameras are projected onto a screen at the back, at times showing the feed from just one camera, at times from several at the same time to give a dream-like effect. It is genius.

Puppetry projected on the screen behind (Photo taken from the SISTIC website).

I loved how you get close-ups of what the characters are doing, like seeing the details of Kepler’s books and maps. And I was intrigued at how all it took was some simple items to create wonderful effects on camera like a spaceship flying through the stars, and rain!

The most amazing part about the show is that somehow, even with the hive of activity before you, it never once distracts you from the beautiful storyline and the emotions it raises.

It was very good. Sad, yet sweet, and stirring.

Something Very Far Away is part of Esplanade’s Octoburst! festival and it’s on at the Esplanade Recital Studio until Monday, 6 Oct. Get your tickets through the SISTIC website or by calling the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

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