Free events and shows you wouldn't want to miss at Kalaa Utsavam 2019

From shadow theatres to block printing workshops to Kathakali performances, Kalaa Utsavam 2019 presents an exciting series of free programmes that will spread the festive mood to various corners of the Esplanade – Theatres By The Bay.

Here is a selection of events and performances you wouldn't want to miss and that you can access for free: 


Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

Kalakshetra Repertory returns to Kalaa Utsavam and, for the first time, with their kathakali troupe. 

Over three different evenings, Kalakshetra Repertory will perform three stories from the Mahabharata—Keechaka Vadham and Ramayana, Lavanasura Vadham and Sita Swayamvaram.

When: November 15-17
Where: Esplanade Outdoor Theatre​

Tholu Bommalatta

Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

Tholu Bommalatta, which literally means the dance (atta) of the leather (tholu) puppets (bommalu),  is the Telugu shadow theatre tradition of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Karnataka.

The performances present epic stories accompanied by live music. On stage the puppets appear behind a white curtain, and the audience sees their coloured shadows, not the actual puppets, enlivened by a light source. 

When: November 15-17
Where: Esplanade Forecourt Garden

Shadow Puppetry Craft Workshop

Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

Learn how to make paper shadow puppets inspired by tholu bommalatta, a Telugu shadow theatre tradition of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Karnataka.

In tholu bommalatta, shadow puppeteers present stories accompanied by live music, sung narratives and enthralling effects. Stories told include Indian epics such as the Ramayana, Bhagwatam and Indian folklore.

When: November 16-17
Where: Esplanade Concourse

TFA Youth Ensemble

Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

The young musicians of Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) present gems composed by legendary composer and sitarist Ravi Shankar as well as the brilliant violinist composer from South India, Lalgudi G Jayaraman.

The ensemble also pays tribute to the founder of TFA , Swami Shantanand, an inspired musician and composer in his own right.

When: November 19
Where: Esplanade Concourse

Swathi Ensemble

Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

In a testament to the diversity and vibrancy of traditional Indian music, Bhaskar's Arts Academy's youth orchestra Swathi Ensemble presents We are Singapore.

This showcase presents classical Indian pieces that seamlessly incorporate local favourites, including Malay and Chinese songs, and not only celebrates multicultural Singapore but also the Singaporean identity.

When: November 21
Where: Esplanade Concourse


Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

Dastangoi is a lost art form of urdu storytelling that traces its roots back to 13th century. The word “dastangoi” refers to the art of storytelling, and is a compound of two Persian words “dastan“ and “goi” which means to tell a dastan. Dastans were epics, often oral in nature, which were recited or read aloud and in essence were like medieval romances everywhere. At the centre of dastangoi is the dastango, or storyteller, whose voice is his main artistic tool in orally recreating the dastan or the story.

In this rendition, Lucknow-based dastango Himanshu Bajpai and Chennai-based composer Vedanth Bharadwaj come together to re-imagine the art of dastangoi as they bring together storytelling and music in a retelling of some of the most inspiring tales of contemporary modern India.

When: November 22-24
Where: Esplanade Forecourt Garden

Block Printing Workshop

Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

In this workshop, learn how to use traditional Indian kalamkari style block printing to create your very own unique tote bag.

Kalamkari is a style of textile dyeing and printing from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in South India. The wood blocks are carved in relief by craftsmen to depict traditional floral motifs, and these are used to print patterns on textiles.

When: November 23-24
Where: Esplanade Concourse

When Chai Met Toast

Photo courtesy: Esplanade
Photo courtesy: Esplanade

When Chai Met Toast is a four-piece band from Kerala, India, and considered one of the most refreshing sounds to have originated from the country in the recent past.

With a unique mix of English-folk-influenced instrumentals and multilingual lyrics, the band has defined a genre of their own, popular for creating soul-stirring tunes and sing-alongs that elate the listener. With a fast-growing fan base around India and the world, WCMT has released two EPs - Joy of Little Things and Believe, and have toured extensively, headlining multiple festival stages in India.

When: November 23
Where: Esplanade Outdoor Theatre 

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