Leading Chinese artists, Boundless arts experiences!

Those born in the Year of the Rat are often described as witty, imaginative and curious. The Rat, after all, had out-witted the other 11 animals in the race to become the first animal featured in the Chinese zodiac calendar. As Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay ushers in the Year of Rat in 2020 with the 18th edition of Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts, we present a specially curated programme line-up that showcases the wit, imagination and curiosity of leading Chinese artists from Singapore and beyond.

Held from the seventh day of the Chinese New Year on 31 Jan till 9 Feb 2020, Huayi presents some of the most dynamic forms of artistic expression that cut across a wide spectrum of works, from traditional to contemporary, and mainstream to cutting-edge. Esplanade also continues to commission and co-produce new works by Singapore arts companies and artists such as Toy Factory Productions, newly formed theatre company GroundZ-0, Singapore Chinese Orchestra and established sanxian player Jessica Lu.

huayi chinese festival of arts 2020

A Battle of Wits
Huayi 2020 kicks off to a great start with a commissioned work, 7 Sages of the Bamboo Grove by Toy Factory Productions which will take place at the 2,000-seat Esplanade Theatre. You may have heard of the seven sages from the three kingdoms era, but what if they were alive today? How would they use their wit and artistry to save the people in a dystopic world ruled by an authoritarian organisation?

Or take matters into your own hands and pit your wits against the cast in Prism of Truth—a commissioned work by GroundZ-0. In this participatory theatre experience inspired by Rashomon, you get to figure it out and decide who the real murderer is.

In another new work—Unspoken Melodies: Silent Film Classics—co-produced by Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Esplanade, audiences will hear how Chinese orchestra music is ingeniously scored and arranged for scenes from four Western classic silent films.

Next up, we bring the sanxian – a Chinese lute usually played as an accompanying instrument in ensembles and orchestras—to the forefront where it will be skillfully played in a new light in Strings of Time – A Sanxian Concert. In this East-meets-West concert commissioned by Esplanade, highly sought-after sanxian player Jessica Lu will lead a group of Singapore musicians to bring you an extraordinary audio-visual experience.

Revel in the clever wordplay and enjoy a lighthearted evening at Storyteller’s Wisdom – A Crosstalk Production by Comedians Workshop of Taiwan, which highlights the brainiest war strategies and stories from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Justice Bao and other Chinese classics.

Power of Imagination
The power of the arts lies in its ability to transport audiences into an imaginary world where anything and everything is possible. Travel back in time and imagine living in the world where the four legendary beauties—Xi Shi, Wang Zhaojun, Diaochan, and Yang Guifei-reigned supreme in The Four Beauties, an elegant and melodious performance of traditional pingtan (storytelling and ballad singing) by Shanghai Pingtan Troupe.

Enter the imaginary world of a child in this non-verbal children’s theatre production, Gullinkambi by Taiwan’s Bon Appetit Theatre, where those young and young-at-heart go on a quest with little Sonna to bring her friend, Gullinkambi the polar bear back to her village.

Even when the worlds and issues explored cut close to reality, the power of the arts is still in the sparks of imaginative empathy between stage and audience. In Principle by the reputable Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, put yourself in the shoes of a newly appointed Principal who is met with opposition from all angles and needs to find ways to survive a crisis in her school without compromising on her principles.

Find out how a family copes when their loved one is diagnosed with dementia through this moving and heart-warming theatre production, The Long Goodbye by Taiwan’s Story Works, who brought much intrigue and laughter to audiences with The Way of Zhuang Zi at Huayi 2019. Have tissue paper and hankie on standby for this one!

Veteran dancer of Hong Kong’s City Contemporary Dance Company, Qiao Yang reflects on her life as a professional dancer in this solo autobiographical work, Almost 55, where she proves to us that age is not a number to be feared.

Out of Curiosity
Step into our intimate studio spaces and (re)discover some of the best young, independent and award-winning musicians who tell their stories through music.

– in::music – ØZI (Best New Artist, Golden Melody Award 2019)
– in::music – Eve Ai (Best Mandarin Female Vocalist, Golden Melody Award 2017)
– in::music – Ann Bai (widely known for her unique vocals and quiet charm)
– in::music – Tizzy Bac (back at Esplanade after 12 years with new material)
– Firebird – Piano Sensation Tony Yike Yang Solo Recital (young and up-and-coming Chinese-Canadian pianist)

In addition to all these performances, there are also Parent-Child Workshops for families to learn more about music, drama and craft together, as well as a diverse range of free performances and activities for everyone to enjoy throughout the 10-day festival.

We would like to give our heartfelt thanks to our Principal Sponsor Knife Cooking Oil, Supporting Sponsors Berries 百力果, Hong Leong Foundation and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple for their generous support of Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts 2020.

As we kickstart a brand new 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac with the Year of the Rat, let us take stock of our life, reflect a little and look around us, discover the joy and positivity that the arts bring into our lives, and then take a big step forward with greater confidence to live life to the fullest in the coming year.

Happy Huayi-ing!

By Delvin Lee, Producer, Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts

Esplanade Presents
31 Jan to 9 Feb 2020

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay invites everyone to explore new arts adventures at its 18th edition of Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts. Held from 31 Jan – 9 Feb 2020, this pinnacle cultural festival that celebrates Chinese New Year with the community will feature an exciting line-up of theatre, dance, and music programmes by outstanding Chinese artists from Singapore and beyond, for all to enjoy during the festive period.

Below are some of the highlights of the FREE PROGRAMMES

Esplanade Outdoor Theatre

Huayi Huat Opening! (Starting from Esplanade Courtyard)
Yiwei Athletic Association & A Bigger Bang Percussion (Singapore)

31 Jan 2020, Fri, 6.45pm

Rousing drumbeats and energetic lions! Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts opens with a lively, breath-taking performance by the award-winning Yiwei Athletic Association on high poles, followed by a spirit lifting percussion presentation by A Bigger Bang Percussion. Here’s a jubilant toast to the Chinese New Year and the start of a new zodiac cycle!

A Celebration Of Drums
A Bigger Bang Percussion (Singapore)

31 Jan 2020, Fri, 8pm & 9.30pm

Usher in the year of the Rat with heart-thumping beats and rhythmic melodies by percussion ensemble A Bigger Bang Percussion. With their energetic and modern approach to percussive arrangements, enjoy the performance as they rejuvenate your festive favourites into catchy numbers!

Sax It Up with Mandopop!
Daniel Chia (Singapore)

1 Feb 2020, Sat, 6.45pm, 8pm & 9.15pm

Known for his melodic and soulful lines, saxophonist Daniel Chia is one of the most versatile and in-demand players in Singapore and the region. Daniel has also toured around the world extensively, performing with a wide range of artists like Larry Carlton and Kit Chan. Get ready to hear your favourite songs from Jay Chou, David Tao, Wang Lee Hom, Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, A-Mei and more.

We are Singer-songwriters!

2 Feb 2020, Sun
(45mins for each performance)
Performed in Mandarin.

Shelby Wang (Singapore)

Are you ready for a groovy R&B night? Join Shelby Wang as she brings you into her world of originals. Not only that, she will also share unreleased songs and cover songs that have inspired her through her music journey. Influenced by Taiwanese band Mayday, Sodagreen and Hong Kong Pop star Khalil Fong, multi-talented singer-songwriter Shelby’s music infuses modern elements, old-school funk/jazz elements, and Mandopop into her own unique style.

Cheryl Lee (Singapore)

Taiwan-based singer-songwriter Cheryl Lee returns to Singapore to present her debut Mandarin solo show featuring feel-good originals showcasing a fusion of R&B, soul and funk. Cheryl graduated from Berklee College of Music with double majors in Film Scoring and Electronic Production & Design. She started performing with Singapore Lyric Opera since the age of 13 and was also part of the opening act for Grammy-nominated band Hoobastank’s Fort Canning performance in 2007. She is currently preparing for her debut Mandarin solo album which will be released in 2020.

Huang Tingzhi (Singapore)

After releasing her first double single Welcome and Miss You Crazy in 2017, Huang Tingzhi held her first mini showcase concert at the Esplanade Concourse in 2018. At the end of the same year, she ventured overseas and conducted a series of mini showcases across Taiwan. Her next single My Dear Brother, a sentimental piece dedicated to her brother, touched the hearts of many audiences. 2020 brings her full circle back to Esplanade, now a brand new Tingzhi with her latest single Apprehensive Lover, which shows a totally different side of her that has not been seen before. Be prepared to be surprised!

Everlasting Hits
Tallin Ang (Singapore)

3 Feb 2020, Mon, 7.30pm & 8.45pm

Catch songbird Tallin Ang performing familiar Chinese evergreen hits made popular by Teresa Teng, Fong Fei Fei and more, bringing you on a trip down memory lane. An avid fan of the late Teresa Teng, Tallin has performed extensively in Singapore and Malaysia. Her singing endeavours began in 2009 when she first won the Best Teresa Teng Image Award in the Songs of Teresa Teng Singing Competition 2009. The following year, she went on to win the national Search for the Teresa Teng competition and was invited to sing at the Chingay Parade in 2011.

(45 mins)
Performed in Mandarin.

Dancing Maidens
Nanyang Girls’ High School, Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, St. Margaret’s Secondary School & St. Nicholas Girls’ School (Singapore)

4 Feb 2020, Tue, 7.15pm & 8.45pm

Welcome the arrival of spring with a group of maidens as they dance by the river and be mesmerised by their elegant and graceful movements. This showcase is performed by students from Nanyang Girls’ High School, Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, St. Margaret’s Secondary School and St. Nicholas Girls’ School.
(45 mins)

In Between Stars
Teresa Tseng (Singapore)

5 Feb 2020, Wed, 7.30pm & 8.45pm

A Campus Superstar alum, Teresa Tseng returns to Singapore with her latest album. She presents a showcase with top Singapore musicians, sharing original songs and special renditions of popular Mandopop hits.

(45 mins)
Performed in Mandarin.

The Mystical Rat
SMU Chinese Orchestra (Singapore)

6 Feb 2020, Thu, 7.30pm & 8.45pm

This Chinese New Year, the SMU Chinese Orchestra will be presenting a rat-themed concert, in celebration of the Chinese Year of the Rat. Recounting the common legend of how the rat outwitted the ox to become the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac, SMUCO will be performing classic pieces such as Marriage of the Lady and Ushering The Spring By The Golden Rat.

The Bands We Chased
Too Much Drama (Singapore)

7 Feb 2020, Fri, 7.30pm, 8.45pm & 10pm

Let local six-piece band Too Much Drama brings you nostalgic songs from familiar bands and groups from the ’90s and 2000s including Xiao Hu Dui, Wu Yin Liang Pin, PowerStation, 5566, F4 and more!

(45 mins)
Performed in Mandarin.


8 Feb 2020, Sat, 6.45pm, 8pm & 9.15pm

Skaraoke is one of the few ska bands to rock the Taiwan scene!

Formed in April 2007, Skaraoke has participated in numerous events and shows all over the island of Taiwan. Skaraoke’s music blends island-style ska, rock steady, reggae, Latin, swing and rock into a cocktail of danceable rhythms and catchy chorus lines.

Grab your dancing shoes because this is an act you don’t want to miss!

Performed in Mandarin.

Best of Cantopop
Jason Chung & Jessie Yeong (Singapore)

9 Feb 2020, Sun, 6.45pm, 8pm & 9.15pm

Widely recognised as vocal powerhouses and winners of Mediacorp’s Getai Challenge 2018, Jason Chung and Jessie Yeong presents familiar Cantopop classics spanning across the decades, with songs from Alan Tam, Leslie Cheung, Beyond, Jacky Cheung, Sandy Lam, Priscilla Chan and more!

(45 mins)
Performed in Cantonese.

Esplanade Waterfront Canopy

Exquisite String Puppetry
Quanzhou Marionette Art Inheritance and Protection Center (China)
7 Feb 2020, Fri, 6.45pm, 8pm & 9.15pm
8 Feb 2020, Sat, 6pm, 7.15pm & 8.30pm
9 Feb 2020, Sun, 6.45pm & 8pm

Be in awe with the skilled artistry of Quanzhou Marionette Art Inheritance and Protection Center as they present a traditional string puppetry performance.

Performed in Mandarin.

Esplanade Forecourt Garden

Springy Steps
Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre

1 & 2 Feb 2020, Sat & Sun, 5pm & 6pm

Head over to Esplanade Forecourt Garden and be invigorated by the energetic performances of Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre! Learn some basic steps from the dancers with your family as we welcome Chinese New Year.

Performed in Mandarin.

The Wedding of the Rats
collide.o.scope collective (Singapore)

8 & 9 Feb 2020, Sat & Sun, 5pm & 6pm

It’s the Year of the Rat and there’s going to be a big wedding for Rat Princess! Alas! The big cat came along and disrupted the wedding preparation. Can you help to find a strong husband for Rat Princess so that the rats can defend themselves against the cat?

Inspired by a Chinese folk tale, we invite everyone to join in this joyous celebration where the audience participates in telling the story with the actors, wishing the rats a blissful marriage and hoping to spread good cheer to everyone in the Year of the Rat.

Performed in Mandarin.

Esplanade Concourse

Hua Yi Tio Ho!
Dan, Van & August (Singapore)

31 Jan 2020, Fri, 7.30pm, 8.30pm & 9.30pm

Using creative dynamic wordplay and music, Dan, Van & August present Chinese New Year in ways you don’t expect! Be prepared to hear songs about flowers, seasons and rats brought to you by boy-next-door Daniel Ong and the ever fun and spontaneous Vanessa Phang, as they bring the genius of August Lum’s arrangements to life in the most unforeseen way!

Performed in Mandarin.

Our Dream?
Nan Hua High School Chinese Drama Society (Singapore)

1 Feb 2020, Sat, 4pm & 5pm

What are dreams? Why do we need to study? How can we balance our aspirations and academic success? Nan Hua High School Chinese Drama Society presents Our Dream?, an original short play that seeks to explore the relationship between dream and reality, personal aspiration and family commitments.

Performed in Mandarin.

Oriental Classics
Incursion Trio (Singapore)

1 Feb 2020, Sat, 7.15pm, 8.30pm & 9.30pm

Join Incursion Trio as they present their take on Chinese classical pieces and folk tunes such as The Butterfly Lovers, Jasmine Flower and more, specially arranged for a piano trio.

Formed by pianist Beatrice Lin, violinist Siew Yi Li and cellist Lin Juan, Incursion Trio has performed extensively in Singapore over the past 10 years and has garnered positive reviews. The Straits Times has described their music as one of “polish, confidence and [a] lovely sound,” calling the trio “a force to be reckoned with”.

We are Singer-songwriters!
2 Feb 2020, Sun
(45mins for each performance)
Performed in Mandarin.

Sherman Zhuo (Singapore)

Catch up and coming singer-songwriter Sherman Zhuo in his Esplanade debut as he presents an evening of acoustic originals and popular favourites. A semi-finalist of Mediacorp’s SPOP Sing! Competition and the winner of Stärker Music Jams 2019, Zhuo is known for his heartfelt singing and warm vocals. His 2017 cover of Ed Sheeran’s Dive captured many eyeballs and achieved over 300,000 views on YouTube.

See Kai Zheng (Singapore)

Sway along to Singapore singer-songwriter See Kai Zheng’s intimate set as he shares his self-penned songs including Goodbye, My Love the theme song of Mediacorp drama Walk With Me. His vocals were featured in the theme song of the latest movie One Headlight. See was in the Top 8 of Channel U’s Project Superstar in 2014 and won the Best Melody award at SG:SW in 2018 for his song Goodbye, My Love.

Aly Koh (Singapore)

In this intimate showcase, homegrown singer-songwriter Aly Koh shares a selection of her Mandarin originals including Please Leave, Where is Happiness and more. She had covered Regret and Qing Yi Cang Xin Di which were featured in Mediacorp drama Crescendo. Koh has been performing since 2013 and was the demo singer for Taiwanese singer Rainie Yang’s Scared.

Marcus Lee (Singapore)

Beaming through this year’s Huayi festival is up-and-coming singer-songwriter, Marcus Lee, who will be lighting up your evening with his bright and warm voice. He will be performing his debut Mandarin single My Confession as well as other self-penned songs and personal favourites. Lee is a bilingual singer-songwriter, actor and model who took part in Campus Superstar at the age of 15 and emerged as the second runner-up.

Passion in Strings
Yvonne Tay and students (Singapore)

3 Feb 2020, Mon, 6.45pm, 7.45pm & 8.45pm

Join Yvonne Tay and her students, Trinice Tan, Megan Neo, Chua Yee Ting, Kerina Lim, as well as Woodlands Ring Secondary School Guzheng Ensemble in this production that showcases the beauty of the 21-string guzheng.

Fusion Winds
Jacky Ng & Bennett Bay (Singapore)

4 Feb 2020, Tue, 6.45pm, 7.45pm & 8.45pm

Jacky and Bennett both began their musical journeys playing the suona as their first instrument. As students of both Eastern and Western music, Jacky and Bennett will present a performance of new original compositions, as well as new arrangements of Chinese tunes, accompanied by a small fusion ensemble of Western and Chinese instruments.

Embrace The Tiger And Return To Mountain
Planeswalker & Dr. Chow Jun Yan (Singapore)

5 Feb 2020, Wed, 6.45pm, 7.45pm & 8.45pm

Inspired by the pugilistic legends and folklore of ancient China, sonic whiz Planeswalker join forces with composer and erhu musician Dr Chow Jun Yan on an exploration of the mythological world of wuxia through a mesh of sonic, visual and spatial elements, creating in a multi-dimensional journey.

Where Love Belongs
The JumpStart (Singapore)

6 Feb 2020, Thu, 6.45pm, 7.45pm & 8.45pm

Indulge in an evening of familiar Singapore tunes with The JumpStart as they make their debut Huayi performance. Get ready for their strong vocals, tight harmonies, and infectious energy in a night of songs we love by Singapore songwriters such as Liang Wenfu, Chen Jiaming, Roy Li, Li Weisong, Li Sisong, JJ Lin, Tanya Chua, Jim Lim, Xiao Han, and more!

Performed in Mandarin.

Kopi Tiam TIME
Kopi Katz (Singapore)

7 Feb 2020, Fri, 6.45pm, 7.45pm & 8.45pm

The kopitiam, or the coffeeshop, is a place where Singaporeans gather to have their meals, mingle, and create memories. Just like the variety of cuisines found in a kopitiam, Kopi Katz is made up of four very different musicians playing different ethnic instruments. Through casual banter and a little “music-drama”, their performance brings you your favourite Chinese New Year songs, popular Malay tunes and Indian folk tunes in a brand-new way!

Performed in Mandarin.

Crosstalk Fun!
Dunman High School & Maris Stella High School (Singapore)

8 Feb 2020, Sat, 3pm & 4pm

Enjoy witty and humorous crosstalk performed by students who scored top prizes at the 2019 National Crosstalk Competition for secondary schools.

Performed in Mandarin.

Unveiling Kun Opera: Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall – Demo and Performance
Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe (China)

8 Feb 2020, Sat, 7.15pm & 9pm

Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall is a collection of four outstanding Chinese Opera classics written by influential Ming dynasty playwright Tang Xianzu. Don’t miss this rare chance to catch performances and demos by award-winning first grade Kun Opera actors from China, Li An and Shen Yili, as they bring you excerpts from The Peony Pavilion and A Pair of Purple Hairpins.

The full-length performances of these four masterpieces will be presented at the Esplanade Theatre from 26 – 29 Mar 2020, paying homage to one of the oldest opera genres in the world.

With English and Chinese subtitles

Zhangde Primary School Choir
9 Feb 2020, Sun, 3pm & 4pm

Stealing hearts as everywhere they perform with their melodious and stirring voices, the choir from Zhangde Primary School presents an afternoon of Chinese folk songs, children’s songs as well as popular hits such as Fairytale and Jasmine Flower.

Performed in Mandarin.

Huayi U Sing – Live Singing Competition
9 Feb 2020, Sun, 7.15pm (Result announcement at 9.45pm)

Are you the king and queen of karaoke? Or do you thrive when singing with a partner instead?

The popular Huayi U Sing is back this year with a twist—the competition now includes duets and ensemble singing!

Level up from bathroom singing and join us in this live singing competition at Huayi 2020! You may participate as a solo singer, as a duo or in an ensemble. Take the opportunity to sing in front of an audience accompanied by professional musicians and pit your singing skills amongst the best!
(2hrs 45mins)

Esplanade Concourse Workshops

Zodiac Bodypainting
MagicPainters (Singapore)

1 & 2 Feb 2020, Sat & Sun, 3 – 7pm

Ready to show off your Chinese Zodiac animal? Get your Chinese Zodiac animal painted on you in this workshop. Limited to the first 150 participants each day.

Zodiac Shrink Art Keychains
SeniKraf (Singapore)

8 & 9 Feb 2020, Sat & Sun, 3 – 7pm

Carry your Chinese Zodiac animal with you as a personalised keychain! Select your own template, colour it and watch it shrink into a keychain right in front of you. Limited to the first 150 participants each day (one keychain per person).

Esplanade Roof Terrace

Rooftop Reads
Chang Chengyao, Ah Guo, Tan Liyi (Singapore)
1 & 2 Feb 2020, Sat & Sun, 5.30pm
Sat: Chang Chengyao & Ah Guo

Esplanade PIP’s PLAYbox

Fortune Koi Fish
31 Jan – 9 Feb 2020, 11am – 6pm (Closed for cleaning: 2pm – 3pm daily)

The Koi fish symbolises good fortune and prosperity! Make and bring home your very own Koi fish using craft materials and bring your family good luck!

The Runaway Chopsticks
Brocolily (Cheryl Kjm,Zeeaura & Sharon Sum)
1 & 2, 8 & 9 Feb 2020, Sat & Sun
11.45am & 4.45pm: Conducted in Mandarin
3.15pm: Conducted in English

What does the legend of the monster Nian have to do with the Chinese New Year? Why do some continue using the chopsticks when there are forks? Cheryl, Zeeaura and Sharon from Brocolily gather over a feast of delicious food and remind each other of the significance behind stories and traditions associated with the festivities. Join Brocolily in The Runaway Chopsticks, a musical storytelling session about the true meaning of the Chinese New Year.

PIP’s Meet & Greet
1,2,8,9 Feb 2020, Sat & Sun
3.45pm & 5.30pm
Esplanade Concourse

Our ever-lovable PIP will make a special appearance on both weekends, come meet and take photos with PIP!

Esplanade Festival Corner
Meow! Where’s the Cat?
Cathy Toi (Singapore)
24 Jan – 9 Feb 2020

Have you ever wondered why the cat is not one of the 12 zodiac animals? Unravel this mystery through a colourful and whimsical installation at the Esplanade Festival Corner!

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