SPH Chinese Media Group to mark the Singapore Bicentennial with a crosstalk production on Singapore’s history

Chinese crosstalk production It Could Have Been___! features (from left) Ma Tian Ling, Johnny Ng, Yong Ser Pin, Audrey Luo, Lee Seng Hui, and Chin Chee Kong.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Singapore, 9 May 2019 — Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) Chinese Media Group (CMG) will present “It Could Have Been____!” (狮城古今笑谈), a well-received Chinese crosstalk (相声 xiang sheng) production to mark Singapore’s Bicentennial year.

The production is co-organised with People’s Association (PA) and presented by China Life Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd (China Life Insurance Singapore) in support of the Singapore Bicentennial.

The performance, which is free admission, will be launched at this year’s Singapore Book Fair with the first two shows to be staged at Capitol Singapore (Stage @ Plaza, Level 1) on 8 and 9 June. Subsequent performances will be staged over the next few weekends at Ang Mo Kio Central Stage, Our Tampines Hub and Kampung Admiralty.

Scripted by Cultural Medallion recipient Mr Han Lao Da, a Singapore xiang sheng pioneer and renowned Chinese-language theatre playwright, “It Could Have Been___!” was first staged at the Esplanade in 2015, garnering rave reviews from audiences.

Mr Han updated and condensed the script into a 75 min performance, comprising seven acts that span across 700 years of Singapore’s history. It is directed by Jalyn Han, an experienced theatre practitioner and anchored by two local crosstalk veterans, Johnny Ng and Yong Ser Pin.

Mr Han said: “We have changed the Chinese title of this production to reflect our modern perspective of Singapore’s history. We hope that it will help to educate Singaporeans about our past, which did not begin with the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles but way before that. The production also touches on the relationship between Malaysia and Singapore which is a constant concern of citizens from both countries. Crosstalk is an ideal platform to help audiences to appreciate serious topics in a more lighthearted manner.”

The 2019 version is modified for the open stage. Through the comical language of Chinese crosstalk, the script spans over 700 years of Singapore’s history, from the naming of Lion City (Singapura), the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, the Japanese Occupation, the merger and separation of Singapore and Malaysia, the integration of Singapore’s new and old immigrants to modern day Singapore. The production will offer a synopsis in English at the beginning of each scene to cater to a wider audience.

Ms Lee Huay Leng, Head of SPH Chinese Media Group, said: “This light-hearted but thought-provoking production is an extremely meaningful and entertaining showcase. Through the comical language of a cross-talk, it enables audiences to acquire better understandings about Singapore’s history and the close ties between Singapore and Malaysia. In addition, aligning with Singapore’s commemoration of the Bicentennial this year, it brings back nostalgic memories of Singapore’s history and heritage, as well as conveys that the nation’s spectacular successes and achievements are not facile.”

Ms Clarin Wee, Director, Grassroots Policy & Programmes Division, People’s Association, said: “As part of our efforts to commemorate Singapore’s Bicentennial, the People’s Association is happy to co-organise with SPH Chinese Media Group to bringSingapore’s history to the heartlands through the traditional chinese crosstalk performance.  Through our collaboration, we hope to reach out to more Singaporeans and they can get to enjoy this light-hearted and engaging performance.”

Mr Zhu Lixin, Deputy General Manager of China Life Insurance Singapore, said: “Singapore’s Bicentennial Commemoration 2019 marks a milestone in Singapore’s history and is a keenly anticipated high profiled event regarded by the Singapore government and Singaporeans. As part of China Life Insurance (Group) Company (“China Life”) which is the largest financial insurance corporation in China, China Life Insurance Singapore is proud to sponsor “It Could Have Been___!” event. This event enacts the various chapters of Singapore’s history through an engaging cross talk performance to relive the monumental moments such as the notable contributions of the early migrants to the present success of Singapore. It is also opportune that this event is in a crosstalk performance format. As crosstalk is a popular Chinese cultural art form, we are delighted to use this event to help promote this traditional art to a wide audience. This year coincides with the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and China Life. We hope to mark these celebratory occasions to further grow our insurance business here and as a socially responsible company, we are committed to offer value-added financial solutions to serve the financial needs of Singaporeans to jointly create a better future for all.”

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Catch the performances here

  • 8 June (Sat), 8pm, Capitol Singapore (Stage @ Plaza, Level 1)
  • 9 June (Sun), 4pm,   Capitol Singapore (Stage @ Plaza, Level 1)
  • 15 June (Sat), 7.30pm, Ang Mo Kio Central Stage
  • 16 June (Sun), 7.30pm, Ang Mo Kio Central Stage
  • 22 June (Sat), 4.30pm, Our Tampines Hub
  • 23 June (Sun), 6pm, Our Tampines Hub
  • 29 June (Sat), 7.30pm, Kampung Admiralty
  • 30 June (Sun), 7pm, Kampung Admiralty