Drama festival

Singapore Infopedia


Drama Festival was first launched in August 1978 as part of goverment initiatives to invigorate the local arts scene.

There had been at least 20 drama groups, made up of mainly expatriates and Chinese operatic groups, in the mid-1960s. However, the drama scene was fraught with difficulties such as lack of funds, playwrights and performers. The Drama Festival was a culmination of government initiatives that sought to revive the languishing local drama scene. The 1978 Drama Promotion Scheme by the Ministry of Culture was one such initiative which provided grants for local drama troupes to put up plays.

The first Drama Festival was held between 1 - 13 August 1978 as part of National Day celebrations. It was launched by the acting Minister of Culture, Ong Teng Cheong at the Victoria Theatre and the first play was Ping Sheh Peking troupe's Madam White Snake. It was funded by Nanyang Siang Pau with at least 15 plays performed in the four national languages, profiling the talent of local troupes. Despite some criticisms over poor acting, the response to the festival marked a new stage in local drama production.

Bonny Muliani Tan

First Drama Festival for National Day,” Straits Times, 1 June 1978, 8. (From NewspaperSG)

N-Day Drama Festival Off to a Good Start...,” Straits Times, 3 August 1978, 10. (From NewspaperSG)

Singapore. Ministry of Culture, Drama Festival: Programme (Singapore: Ministry of Culture, 1979), 1. (Call no. RCLOS 792.095957 DF) 

The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Rights Statement

The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.

More to Explore

Ong Keng Sen


Ong Keng Sen (b. 1964, Singapore–), the critically acclaimed artistic director of TheatreWorks, a local theatre company, is best known for his intercultural Shakespeare-inspired trilogy of works – Lear, Desdemona and Search: Hamlet. He was the artistic director of an international arts festival, In-Transit, held at the House of World...

Alfian Sa’at


Alfian bin Sa’at (b. 18 July 1977, Singapore–), commonly known as Alfian Sa’at, is a prominent English- and Malay-language playwright, poet and short-story writer in Singapore and Malaysia. Known for his politically charged works, Alfian is notable for being the only Singaporean Malay writer to have produced a sizeable body...

Quek Ling Kiong


Quek Ling Kiong (???) (b. 1967, Singapore–) is a percussionist and the resident conductor of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO). Winner of the National Art Council’s Young Artist Award in 2002 and recipient of the NAC Cultural Fellowship in 2013, Quek is committed to spreading his passion and knowledge of...

Lim Yau


Lim Yau (born 1952, Singapore) is a prominent orchestral and choral conductor whose long conducting career has included stints as Resident Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and Music Director of the Singapore Symphony Chorus (SSC). He is reputed to be the only conductor to have premiered works by...

Iskandar Mirza Ismail


Iskandar Mirza Ismail (b. 23 July 1956, Singapore–d. 1 November 2014, Singapore) is a prominent figure in Singapore’s music scene. A multitalented and versatile musician, Iskandar has worked as a composer, arranger, conductor, music director, recording producer, performer and educator in his long career. In 2008, he was awarded the...

Royston Tan


Royston Tan (b. 5 October 1976, Singapore–) is an award-winning Singaporean film-maker who is hailed as one of the most promising talents in the local film-making industry. Most of Tan’s works focus on social issues and seek to challenge the boundaries of societal expectations. As such, he is often regarded...

Catherine Lim


Catherine Lim Poh Imm (b. 21 March 1942, Penang, Malaysia–) is the doyenne of Singapore stories having written more than nine collections of short stories, five novels and a poetry book. She began as a teacher; then project director with the Ministry of Education; specialist lecturer with the Regional Language...

Felix Cheong


Felix Cheong Seng Fei (b. 1965, Singapore–) is a poet and recipient of the National Arts Council Young Artist Award for Literature in 2000. He has published three volumes of poetry: Temptation and Other Poems (1998), I Watch the Stars Go Out (1999) and Broken by the Rain (2003). Cheong...

Indie music in Singapore


Independent (commonly shortened to “indie”) music encompasses a wide range of musical genres, including rock, pop, metal and folk. Indie music is associated with alternative, non-mainstream productions and forms of distribution. Increasingly, the term “indie music” is also used to refer to musical styles that deviate from the mainstream, popular...

Cultural Medallion


The Cultural Medallion honours individuals who have achieved excellence in the fields of literary arts, performing arts, visual arts and film, and contributed to Singapore’s cultural environment. The award is conferred by the president of Singapore and administered by the National Arts Council (NAC). Instituted in 1979 by Ong Teng...