Showcase of different abilities and talents

by Nicolette Mok for SAPGOC | Published on:

APG Opening CeremonyPhoto Credit: Philip Tan

The 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG) will open for the first time on home ground this December at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and, make no mistake, the ceremony will certainly be one to behold.

Beyond the glittery multimedia projections, exuberant performances, and extraordinary stories, much planning and deliberation had also gone into determining the direction of the show, according to the ceremony’s Visual Director and Communications Director Dr Tan Kai Syng.

Boasting a unique philosophy and visual direction conceptualised based on the award-winning artist’s insightful perspectives, the APG’s opening ceremony seeks to drive home the message of inclusiveness while celebrating different abilities and talents.

Expounding on the vision for the Opening Ceremony, Kai Syng who holds a doctorate in Fine Art and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art said “We are proud to be different. It’s a positive message.”

While more at home in museums, galleries and film festivals, she shared that she had been trained to approach things with a critical mind, which helped her keep the show from going too far in terms of exaltation.

Dr Tan Kai Syng

My particular contribution is as a visual artist trained in fine art, shaping the content and direction of the show with [creative director] Philip [Tan].  We have been very inspired by the 2012 London Paralympics campaign produced by the TV station, Channel 4. The whole spin was very positive; they portrayed the para athletes in a very glamorous way, like superheroes. But at the same time, we found it problematic, because it was almost like going the other way towards over-glorifying them. So we’ve decided to strike a balance between accentuating their excellence and portraying their defiance in the face of challenges,” she remarked. 

“I contributed in terms of helping to think about disability in a different way. I live in the U.K., and the disability discourse there is completely different. It doesn’t indicate inferiority; instead, diversity is a reality. So because of my own work as an artist and what I’m exposed to, I’ve been able to bring these layers and critical perspectives into the show.”        Of course, what better way to achieve such levels of inclusiveness than to garner input from the ground and ensure that everyone’s voices resonate? The opening ceremony’s creative team is definitely not one to settle for top-down direction.

“It’s not about us simply giving directions to the performers. It’s about finding out what they really do, explore that, and see how we can take these to further levels,” Kai Syng expressed.

“It’s a show that has been made with, for, and by people with different abilities and talents.”

APG Opening Ceremony (Sketches by Yan Tuck Hong)Sketch by Yan Tuck Hong

Providing a sneak preview on the innovative direction that the show’s hosts planned to take on in the name of inclusion, Kai Syng also disclosed a collaboration between the ceremony’s emcees and sign language interpreters, in a bid to better integrate their performances come December.

“[We have been] working together and discovering new insights in the process, making changes to the script along the way. It’s been great, a meeting of different cultures,” she revealed.

“The emcees are your usual perky, flamboyant, professional actors. The interpreters are more reserved, but they can get quite lively and expressive when they are signing. We spend time getting to know each other and create something different and new.”

Having placed so much thought into the show’s overarching message and ensuring that it will be portrayed clearly throughout its five movements, Kai Syng has just one more aspiration – to make it a blast for everyone.

“People might come in to watch this show without expectations. They might just think that this is a niche show with minimal coverage and a lower budget, unlike the SEA Games. But we want to surprise the audience. We will do a good job and show them what we can do!”

Come witness this spectacular show on 3 December and be inspired by the important message that it seeks to convey. 

Catch the 8th ASEAN Para Games’ opening ceremony on 3rd December at 8pm on our TV App:

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