SINGAPORE: The experiences of everyday Singaporeans coping with the ongoing pandemic will be at the centre of the evening show for this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) on Aug 9, which will be broadcast live from The Star Performing Arts Centre.
With a much smaller live audience of just 150 people due to COVID-19 restrictions, the evening show has been specially designed to cater to those watching from home, with choreography, sets and digital animations best enjoyed on screen.
And instead of mass productions featuring thousands of performers, the show will have small group performances for the first time.
Speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon (Jul 30), NDP show committee chair Colonel Wong Shi Ming said the original plan had been for an outdoor show at the floating platform at Marina Bay, as in previous years.
“But things changed, and with that our plans also evolved,” he said.
While an indoor show – another first for the parade – would lack the grandeur of outdoor performances, it would also be a “more cozy, more intimate but just as meaningful” for home audiences, COL Wong said.
The fallout from the ongoing pandemic puts NDP in a “different context”, he said, adding that the annual parade “would not shy away from difficult conversations” about what Singaporeans have gone through.
Filmmaker Royston Tan, the creative director for this year’s NDP, said he hoped to capture the “very real and relatable experiences of Singaporeans this year”.
“2020 has not been rosy, but amidst the struggle, there have been incredible acts of kindness, resilience and unity, which we want to share with the rest of Singapore,” he said.
READ: NDP 2020 to have morning and evening shows; shows to be scaled down in line with COVID-19 precautions
The evening show will feature a series of short films showcasing 31 stories, which will be interwoven with songs by local artistes.
It will feature 11 interconnected performances, split into six acts. The first act, titled “Our Singapore”, aims to evoke feelings of nostalgia through familiar sights and sounds.
The second and third acts, titled “When Things Change” and “Challenges We Face” respectively, will highlight the struggles faced this year, as well as how Singaporeans have had to adapt to meet these challenges head-on.
READ: 'It means a lot to people with disabilities': Meet the special needs artists who designed NDP Singapore Together Packs
Acts four and five meanwhile will showcase how ordinary Singaporeans have stepped up to support each other and unite, as well as pay tribute to essential service workers and those at the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
The final act, titled “A Stronger Singapore”, brings all the performers together, looking forward to the future with optimism and the hope of emerging stronger from the current crisis as a nation.
It will also mark the debut of the first NDP virtual choir, which will feature the submissions from several thousand people for an online performance singing We Are Singapore.
The evening show will culminate in the pledge moment at 8.20pm where Singaporeans are encourage to recite the national pledge together.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force's public warning system will sound islandwide to remind and encourage everyone to join in.
Following the pledge, there will be the light up, where Singaporeans are encouraged to attach the red torch stickers, from their Singapore Together pack, to their mobile phones and light up the night sky. This is to pay tribute to frontline and essential service workers as well as the country's community heroes.
The show will culminate with a series of fireworks displays across the island.
'AN NDP YOU WILL NEVER FORGET'
Among the 31 local stories that will be featured is Mr Johann Annuar, the executive director of non-profit organisation Engineering Good.
The 46-year-old started the Computers Against Covid initiative, which collected and refurbished more than 2,800 donated laptops. These were given out to more than 120 beneficiary organisations to help needy students who went through home-based learning.
In addition to singers like Nathan Hartono - who is singing this year’s NDP theme song Everything I Am - the show will also feature parade veterans such as dancer Jacqueline Theresa Pereira, who last performed at the parade in 2008.
Besides noting how the choreography has been adapted to allow for safe distancing between dancers, Ms Pereira added that this year is "extra special" because of her day job as a patients services associate executive at a hospital.
"It's an NDP that you will never forget," said Ms Pereira, who is in her 50s.
The show will also feature a number of first-time NDP performers.
They include violinist Jaz Loh, 22, whose performance of the classic National Day song Home while she was serving her stay-home notice at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa in March went viral, as well as rapper and singer-songwriter Shazuan Shiraj, who performs under the stage name Abangsapau.
During the show Abangsapau will be performing an original track titled Each Other, together with his mother Farhana Ibrahim.
The track, which he wrote on the first day of Singapore’s circuit breaker, encompassed his thoughts on the challenges faced during this period, such as not being able to visit his grandmother or perform on stage in front of audiences.
“I was just thinking of all the things I personally lost and try to put it down in a way that was reflective,” said the 21-year-old, whose father also died during the circuit breaker.
“The weight of (singing) 'all that we got is each other' got a full, new meaning for me,” he said.