Opening for Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2017 is ‘Art Studio’, a Singapore-Mandarin theatre commission performed by Nine Years Theatre. Set against the backdrop of Singapore’s changing landscape from the 1960s to the new millennium, ‘Art Studio’ speaks of the story of a young school drop-out, Ji Zong, who is coerced by his friend to become a model for life drawing by a group of artists. It is a moving rendition of the poetic beauty and sorrow of ordinary human relationships between the artists and him.
The performance is adapted and directed by Nelson Chia from the Chinese novel of the same name, written by 2003 Cultural Medallion winner and Singaporean novelist Yeng Pway Ngon. With Yeng winning the Singapore Literature Prize no fewer than three times – most recently in 2012 for Art Studio. His books have been translated into many languages, including Italian, with this performance being his first major translation onto stage.