Opening - “When A Gray Taiwanese Cow Stretched” @ Singapore ArtFest


First there is the setting: a small make-shift amphitheater raised amongst the trees of the Esplanade park with the towers of the Business district in the backdrop and overlooking a beautiful stage on stilt, broken into six platforms as islands into the Pacific (will jolt the most jaded theatre-goers). Then there is the music a mix between Balinese-like chants and Japanese rap, and finally there is the control movements of the performers of the Japanese theatre group Ishinha (meaning ‘reformers’).

Not really a play, "When A Gray Taiwanese Cow Stretched” t is more an artistic performance that mixes contemporary dance moves and chants in small historic vignettes touching on migrations, colonization and war in the Asian Pacific ocean. The production describes the dreams and setbacks of young Japaneses who embarked on the “Sea Road” from Japan in search of better fortunes. Some cleared the wild woods in the Philippines to grow hemps, other journey around the Indonesian islands as Christina missionaries, while some became engineers and constructed the biggest dam in Taiwan. Their dreams were shattered by the outbreak of the Pacific War, and to this day, the spectre of these Japanese soldiers still loom large in collective memory. Running 2 hours without intermission, the production is overlong and at time repetitive. But it is also extremely poetic, visually arresting and the whole experience in this unusual space will be one you remember for a long time. The play runs as part of the Singapore Arts Festival at the Festival Village from May 13-17.