Can you believe it’s been more than 40 years? The Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA), which returns to the Civic District for its 42nd run this May, recently announced its full lineup of iconic artists and international luminaries from the world over. This is the second SIFA to be helmed by Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani, and we can only marvel at the work he’s been doing. Here are seven works and programming that we’re looking forward to — get out your wallets, quick.

Dionysus

From the hands of visionary director Tadashi Suzuki comes Dionysus, a masterful cross-cultural adaptation of Greek tragedy The Bacchae, hailed as one of Athenian playwright Euripides’ greatest dramas. Dionysus, the God of Wine, unleashes his plot to punish Pentheus, King of Thebes, for denying Dionysus’s divinity. He later lures Pentheus to his death — torn to pieces by feverish worshippers and his own mother. An impressive cast of Indonesian, Japanese, and Chinese actors are set to dominate the stage, having undergone years of intense training in Suzuki’s renowned acting method!

When: 17 to 18 May 2019, 3pm & 8pm

Where: Victoria Theatre

What it costs: $40, $60, $10 (limited student tickets)

The Mysterious Lai Teck

Who is Lai Teck? History remembers him as the leader of the Malayan Communist Party from 1939 to 1947 or a triple agent for the French, British, and Japanese secret police. Yet the man is an enigma and rumoured to have 30 pseudonyms. Performed in Mandarin with English subtitles, The Mysterious Lai Teck by visual artist Ho Tzu Nyen is a thrilling snapshot of facts and speculation, featuring inventive staging, visual projections, theatrical drapes, and even an animatronic puppet! In other words, it’s the kind of show befitting one of Southeast Asia’s most shadowy historical figures.

When: 17 to 19 May 2019, 5pm & 8pm

Where: SOTA Drama Theatre

What it costs: $40

Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner

Checkpoint Theatre is back with another powerful new play — this time it’s one about humanitarian workers caught in the crosshairs of a crisis. Can they stay sane, stay alive, and stay strong when they’re called upon to do the impossible? With sensitivity and nuance, playwright Huzir Sulaiman explores the realities of the aid industry, where good people oftentimes struggle with treacherous politics and flawed institutions. Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner examines vital questions about our world — from the nature of conflict to the toxic nature of institutions, and the challenges we face when confronted with powers larger than ourselves.

When: 24 to 26 May 2019, 3pm & 8pm

Where: Victoria Theatre

What it costs: $40, $60

A Dream Under the Southern Bough: Reverie

From the vision of award-winning theatre director Goh Boon Teck comes Reverie, an ambitious adaptation of Ming Dynasty playwright’s Tang Xianzu’s masterpiece. Chun Yu Fen is a disgraced naval officer who ventures into a fantastical dream in the Ant Kingdom, where he finds himself betrothed to the Kingdom’s princess and the newly appointed governor of the Southern Bough. It appears to be a time for revelry, but trouble is inching ever closer. And if Tang’s nickname as the Shakespeare of the East is to be believed, this is one lyrical play not to be missed.

When: 31 May to 2 Jun 2019, 3pm & 8pm

Where: Drama Centre Theatre

What it costs: $40, $60, $10 (limited student tickets)

Bedtime Stories

“It was a dark and lonesome night.” So begins actor Thomas Dudkiewicz in Bedtime Stories, the narrative performance conceived by Dutch collective URLAND. Taking its inspiration from radio plays and using just voice and well-timed sound effects, be led into a strange and brilliantly dark world with an enchanting cast of characters. Meet Lilly, a precocious young girl, her father Max and doting grandfather George — all master storytellers. Plus, you’ll be taken to a secret venue, which just makes things a whole lot more fantastical.

When: 21 to 26 May 2019, 7.30pm

Where: Secret location

What it costs: $35

Frogmen

Enter the world of Frogman, a coming-of-age drama exploring the fragility of childhood imaginations. Meera, a coral reef scientist, is informed by detectives that her father is being charged for the murder of her childhood friend, who disappeared in 1995. Springing back and forth between two timelines, what’s intriguing is the use of virtual reality and cutting-edge technology to redefine the nature of live storytelling in the digital age. Watch as the mystery unfolds through childhood sleepovers with young Meera and her friends, to a thrilling underwater search-and-rescue mission.

When: 21 to 26 May 2019, 2pm & 8pm

Where: SOTA Studio Theatre

What it costs: $40

Peter and the Wolf

Silo Theatre’s award-winning production of Peter and the Wolf isn’t just a simple play, not is it only for kids. This enduring fairy tale of courage, adventure, and friendship is based on the beloved composition by Sergei Prokofiev — you know, that guy who also wrote the music for Romeo and Juliet? When Peter, who travels across the world to live with his grumpy grandfather, he sees an opportunity to become a hero when a wolf escapes from the local zoo. Told through a visual spectacle of live animation, puppetry, and a six-piece band, follow Peter’s magical journey into the unknown.

When: 18 to 20 May 2019, 10am & 3pm

Where: KC Arts Centre, Home of SRT

What it costs: $30, $40

Top Image: A Dream Under the Southern Bough: Reverie