Even as live events were cancelled and put on hold, the vital work of art-making by Gateway Arts persevered during the peak of the pandemic.
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
Image source: Gateway Arts
Despite the restrictions and disruptions, Gateway Arts’ 2019/2020 residencies have adapted swiftly to continue supporting the artists’ development of works, as well as their outreach to schools and the community, even extending the residencies into 2021.
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.
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.
Image source: Gateway Arts
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.
Go “Behind The Wall” with Gateway Arts
Image source: Gateway Arts
To engage even more youths and the community, Gateway Arts will be bringing another digi-theatrical experience to schools and homes. Behind The Wall is an original production that sees award-winning playwright Jean Tay developing the script, with Gateway Arts’ Artistic Director, Samantha Scott-Blackhall, taking on the role of director.
Based on the children’s book “Who’s Behind That Wall” written by Kim Eun-Hee, the work encourages students to develop empathy and understanding of different races and cultures that make up our society.
“A culture of empathy is crucial in today’s society. We hope that, through the engaging art of storytelling, songs and interaction, children will be enlightened on the value of human kindness. Moreover, that they will take on the responsibility of showing respect and love to one another— perhaps even helping mum and dad to do the same,” Samantha shares. Behind The Wall will be available as a digital education programme for primary school students and includes a 20-minute post-show activity for students to delve deeper into the material. Electronics & Engineering is proud to be the Production Sponsor of Behind The Wall.
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.