By Bright Ong | GroundBreakers 2020
By decree of His Royal Highness, the Sultan himself, The Sultan’s Palace will be taking a brand new direction in light of these times that we are living in. Seeing as to how humans are even more dangerous to the people of his land, especially in these times, His Royal Highness has decided to give access to all those that are invited to his palace, digitally! Following the advice of his council of wise children, The Sultan will be opening up the palace grounds for special invited guests only! You’ll get to experience the grand palace from the comfort of your home, from your media devices, with a little help from an adult of course. You’ll get to see the palace from a 360 degree point of view, and also interact with the occupants of the grounds. You may even get to help the Sultan and the palace’s occupants solve some of their problems!
About the artist
Bright Ong (Bio 2020) An alumni scholar of the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s (SRT) Young Co., Bright also graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor’s degree in Geography with a Minor in Theatre Studies. As a multidisciplinary performance-maker, Bright has developed specialisations in physical theatre and puppetry. In his capacities as a director, actor and puppeteer, he also greatly believes in the power of theatre for young audiences (TYA), and has worked on numerous TYA productions both locally and internationally.
In these capacities as a theatre-maker, he has also attended several international festivals as a delegate, most recently being Imaginate 2019 (Scotland) and ASSITEJ Korea’s K-PAP 2020 (South Korea). He is also an Associate Director with Five Stones Theatre (UK, Singapore), Associate Artist with Mascots and Puppets Specialists (Singapore), and is a participant member of the Closed Community of Artists under The Paperboats Collective (Australia) as well as a member of the UP Collective (Singapore). Bright has also performed for several festivals around the world, including the Georgetown Festival (Penang, Malaysia), Festival 2018 (Gold Coast, Australia, Commonwealth Games), Pesta Boneka 2018 (Yogyakarta, Indonesia), Light 2 Night (Singapore), Flipside (Singapore) and the 100 and 100 More Festival (Singapore).
Bright’s work as a puppetry creative includes his role as adjunct lecturer on puppetry at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. As a puppeteer, he played Latif on ZooMoo, an international children’s cable channel. He was the Resident Director and Puppetry Supervisor for Ninjago: The Realm of Shadows, at Legoland Malaysia (2015-2018). The show was awarded the IAAPA (The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) award for Best Theatrical Production 2016. His commercial directorial work also expands regionally, having been engaged for Legoland (Malaysia), Transtudio (Indonesia) and Madame Tussauds (Singapore).
A Malaysian boy at heart, Bright draws upon his life experiences of shuttling between two distinct societies when it comes to creating theatre. Theatre credits include: Pinocchio-The Musical (SRT); Macbeth-Shakespeare in the Park (SRT); Lan Fang Chronicles (Singapore Arts Festival 2012); Pretty Things (Substation); mOOn ballOOn (Esplanade and Patch Theatre, Australia); 2 Houses (Georgetown Festival 2014); Words & Music (NUS Arts Festival 2015); Roald Dahl’s The BFG (Player’s Theatre); Ma’ma Yong (Esplanade Pentas); Lord of the Flies (Blank Space Theatre and Sight Lines Productions); River of Time (Singapore Night Festival 2016, Director); The Pillowman (Pangdemonium); Urinetown (Pangdemonium); Coraline (Player’s Theatre); Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress (SRT); Especially on Birthdays (The Paperboats, Australia); Tree’s Company (Esplanade Flipside 2018, Director); Annie Ting and the Dragon (Tiny Feat, Director); Immortal X (The Theatre Practice, A. Director); Legends of Singapore (Dick Lee Asia, Co-Director and Puppetry Consultant) Instagram: @bright.ong
For Practitioners and Parents:
The Sultan’s Palace is an exploration into a new genre of Arts for Young Audiences, borne out of the challenging restrictions placed on live theatre in these times of a global pandemic. What we are trying to achieve is to experiment with the art form of live-action puppetry on film, and incorporate elements of interactivity and children’s agency of choice from live performance, but modified for a digital/film medium. We are not replacing live theatre with another form, neither are we expecting the same results, emotions, learnings that live theatre gifts to us, but we are merely exploring how else we as artists can express our work in the “new normal”. It is a strange and weird time for us all, and we hope to find a way of developing and producing art for young audiences that isn’t static and passively consumed, but instead, stimulating, engaging and arresting.
In this beta version, the film starts within the palace grounds itself. The view is on a 360 camera, and audiences can view the palace in its entirety by engaging with their devices. Whilst on this “home page”, the palace is alive with activity. Characters randomly pop out of their doors, and the sky above is teeming with moving clouds and characters. This loop goes on for 10 minutes, and replays again. Each palace wall is a clickable waypoint. And when clicked on, the video then zooms in and transits into a 2D video, where the character behind that particular waypoint talks directly to the viewer. In this interaction, the scene then starts to present playable options for the viewer, which results in different scenarios being played out, depending on what responses the audience member clicks on. As this is still a work in progress, each interaction is kept short in this beta version, and is not fully fleshed out. In future iterations of this project, we hope to include a stronger intertwined storyline, with more “game” features that the viewer can explore. The Sultan’s Palace is recommended for children 4 – 6 years.