While live events were cancelled and put on hold, Gateway Arts persevered during the peak of the pandemic to continue on the work of art-making. Home to emerging local artists and collectives, the company forges ahead with the successful Gateway Arts Residencies, Gateway Arts Kids Club and an upcoming original digital theatre performance that builds on its mission to shine a light on social issues.
Nurturing the next generation
|Euginia Tan (Playwright)||Tan Yunru (Playwright)||Victoria Chen (Multidisciplinary Artist)|
In the past year, playwrights Euginia Tan and Tan Yanru and multidisciplinary artist Victoria Chen have been further honing their craft under Gateway Arts’ Artist-In-Residence Programme, which provides opportunities for research, development and dialogue, venue; a stipend; and mentorship by industry veterans. Euginia Tan’s The Rat Trap, written under the mentorship of acclaimed playwright Jean Tay, starred veteran actor Lim Kay Siu, Yap Yi Kai, and Darren Guo, sold out its live in-person showings at its premiere in February 2021.
|Collective-In-Residence Bitesize Theatre Productions||Collective-In-Residence Five Stones Theatre|
This edition of Gateway Arts’ residencies also marks the first time that collectives are incepted into the programme. The Monster in the Mirror Musical by Bitesize Theatre Productions is a 90-minute original pop musical film that empowers audiences with its messages of self-love and identity- building. Despite the pandemic, cast and creatives under the Gateway Arts Collective-In-Residence programme continued to meet online, developing and transforming the show into a digi-theatrical performance.
The show’s digital form allowed key issues surrounding mental health to be shared with a wider audience, namely students and youths, who may be grappling with more “monsters” especially during these uncertain times. The ability to touch lives through the arts and create inspiring productions that drive important conversations such as social issues are paramount to Gateway Arts. Hosting post-show dialogues featuring the cast and creatives, facilitated by representatives from the Samaritans of Singapore and Institute of Mental Health allow students to distil their thoughts into productive discussions.
The Monster in the Mirror Musical is currently available for booking on-demand for schools, youth organisations and groups after ending a successful public run in April 2021.
Other works-in-development include Dots and Kopitiam by Five Stones Theatre, the other of Gateway Arts’ 2020/2021 Collective-In-Residence. Dots is a story of a young girl who goes on a journey of self-discovery and growth told through the medium of movement, multimedia and audience interaction, while Kopitiam is a puppet show in tribute to the heritage icon that many Singaporeans hold close to their hearts. In the second half of 2021, Gateway Arts’ resident artists and collectives will go into the final phase of development of their work, such as a table read of Yanru’s script and work-in-progress showcases of Victoria’s artistic enquiry into various themes and art forms.
Bringing the Arts closer to people
To continue engaging audiences during Covid-19, Gateway Arts shifted its storytelling sessions online. Targeted at children between three to seven years old, the programme is kept free to make the arts accessible to the community. Hundreds of audiences tune in to different stories each week, garnering more than 18,000 views online as of June 2021. In-person and online shows are now available in accordance with the latest Covid-19 guidelines.
Despite the volatile situation, Gateway Arts has a calendar packed with activity for the rest of 2021. Priscilla Khong-Espinosa, Executive Director, Gateway Arts, says “In these uncertain times, I believe that the arts can be used to help bring hope to the world. Gateway Arts remains committed to our mission: keeping theatre alive and nurturing artists whose stories need to be told, and audiences who need to hear these voices. We rely on the support of the public and our donors to keep the doors open and the stage lights on, so that we can continue to promote the essentiality of arts in today’s world.”
As a non-profit organisation, Gateway Arts relies on the proceeds and ticket sales from its programmes and theatre productions, as well as the generous support of its donors and sponsors to fulfil its social mission to transform lives through the arts. Gateway Arts welcomes arts lovers, supporters and philanthropists to “Be a Friend”, “Be a Guardian” or “Be a Sponsor” and make a lasting difference to the future of the company and the lives that it touches.
For more information about Gateway Arts, please visit their website at gatewayarts.sg.
Images: Gateway Arts