Friday, 13 February 2015

Tour of Esplanade Theatres by the Bay, Singapore 10/2/15

As we all know, I'm obsessed with theatre, even when on holiday, so when in a very jet lagged state I passed this sign in the esplanade at Singapore it immediately caught my attention.  I duly presented myself promptly at 9.00 the next morning to have a tour. So promptly that initially all I could find was cleaning staff! As soon as I found someone to ask though the incredibly helpful staff went off to arrange a guide and the lovely Isni and her sidekick Benjamin soon arrived to show me round on my own little private tour!

The arts centre was built on reclaimed land and opened in 2002. It comprises a 1800 seat concert hall, 2000 seat theatre, 200 seat flexible studio, 200 seat recital studio and additional performance spaces, public areas and exhibition spaces. Whilst they do host touring companies and artists which can be more expensive ( Isni mentioned one concert where the top priced ticket was SGD 600!) , there is a heavy emphasis on making art and performance accessible to all with many performances being subsidised or free. There are also daily free recitals in the foyer. 

The tour itself was very comprehensive and informative, I learnt tons about the acoustics of the spaces and the soundproofing that ensures that even in a busy part of the city with constant traffic noise and the seemingly never ending Singapore construction racket,  the sound quality will always be first class.

The concert hall is a beautiful light airy space and reminded me very much of the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, the theatre feels a lot more intimate but has a huge stage, similar size to the Lowry's Lyric, and like theirs has been designed so that large trucks can unload into a bay directly behind it. The Studio is a lovely flexible space that could host many types of performance. We also went up to the roof terrace, a public area that I had no idea existed even though I have walked below it many times! It's a popular picnic spot for families at the weekend apparently. 

I really enjoyed my tour which - a bargain at SGD 10, which included a very comprehensive booklet and free postcards!  There is a longer tour available to book that also takes you backstage but it's only available to larger parties sadly, not solo chicks from Manchester on their holidays! 

Thank you Isni and Benjamin. I can't wait to return and hopefully attend a performance in your lovely building. 

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