Tara Tan and Studio Now & Then (Singapore)

Singapore Arts Festival

Festival Village / 26 May 2012 (Saturday)

Free performance

Duration: 1hr plus

 Details of SONGBIRD

Taking its Flight OUT of the Cage!

Who is Songbird?

Her name is Sherry and in her Twitter @SherriTomato where she “plunged” into on 8 Mar 2012 to say “Hello” to the world, she introduced herself as “Singapore singer-songwriter with a penchant for alliteration. Also crazy about cats!”.

From her Twitter’s photo, you will sure like her instantly by her sweet look; she is young and pretty, as she placed a little shy but playful smile in front of you while looking down. And like any other girls, she loves cats too! You can also feel her passion for music.

How I came to know about her was a surprise to me, it was when I found out that someone had retweeted my message, “@Tuzi_heartbeat: Not easy to write a song, we must encourage people who do so, esp local artists! Please give your support 4 originals!” and that person was her!

I was touched by her, by her passion in music. Later on, I also find out that we shared similar interests, like taking photographs and admiring arts. I decided to follow her in Twitter. I felt that we can be good friends and wanted to give her my morale support as in supporting our local music industry, because it is always encouraging to see people (no matter how young or old you are) who dare to pursue their dreams!

Not very long waiting, she posted a message about her first single hit, a catchy cheerful tune of  “Maybe”  to be released soon and she will be having her first concert at The Singapore Arts Festival from 24 to 27 May 2012. “A glamorous but mysterious singer is about to make her debut” as the SAF’s programme booklet described her.

But before Sherry’s actual performance can successfully taken place, she mentioned in her blog through Twitter that she had received drawings of herself by an anonymous “343”, and she got more worried after receiving more drawings the second time with high suspicious that it might be from the same person. Her boyfriend, Ethan, comforted her. And Sherry shared further in the same posting that, “Times like these. I wish J were around. He’d know what to do.”

When you read all these in her Twitter, you could not help not to worry for her, so many mysteries awaiting her (or you) to solve … Will she be safe? And whether will she met any harms on her first public appearance?? Who is J and what is their relationship like?

Many many question had been raised within me but yet, on the hindsight, I also felt that encounters like that, were not very much made believable and very rarely happened to anyone! But to a beautiful lady and a singer to be like Sherry, perhaps it can happen!


Finally, on the day of her debut concert, there I was, with my friend, awaiting at the second floor of the open-air Festival Café at the Festival Village near Esplanade, rather “expecting” that Sherry will not appear to perform for us due to some “unforeseen circumstances” because the Art Festival’s guide book had already hinted to us, “The hunt is on for the missing songbird!” and also the let-out information by the media. If “Songbird” – Sherry did not go missing, then there would be no hunting for her in the first place.

We were told in advance before the event date to download a certain app into our iPhone or iPad which I do not have, but thanks to the generosity of the organiser who had made arrangement for non-iPhone and iPad users like me to loan, in order to take part in this Hunting Game.

(Also thanks to the helpful and patient event assistants at the Starting Point, who taught a first-time user like me in using the iPad. =p)

At the start of my adventure, I received my first interactive message by Sherry’s boyfriend, Ethan, in asking me to help him in searching for Sherry. I was directed by the app to go to my next stop, Fullerton Hotel as there would be more clues of Sherry’s whereabouts. Then I was told to go to the gallery, scanning all the QR codes (a type of barcode) I could find there, one after another, Sherry’s past encounters slowly revealed to me, allowing me to know more about her, though well-filmed video clips and a mystery phone call from “343”, the mystery man who sent Sherry, the drawings of her!

To cut my story short, my friend and I were led to one place after another by the instructions given by the app, walking around in the Civic District, sometimes we were more concern of finding the not-so-obvious QR codes in some venues, in order for us to continue to our next stop, than to our real concern in finding Sherry. (I also took the opportunity to admire the sceneries along the way, taking pictures sometimes. =p)

The love-triangle drama among the characters sounded too common for one to either get excited on how the story would go or able to have much empathy with Sherry or with her current boyfriend, Ethan but a married man who was also a well-known person to the public or with her “ex-love”- the mystery man, “343”.

Definitely need to find ways in keeping the participants in keenness to chase after Sherry, maybe set a time-limit in order to raise the urgency, and perhaps also a more challenging investigation which required the audience members to think a little bit more, like allowing us to make our choices, different choices will lead to different routes and experiences, so that Not everyone has the same outcome (though I know more works and man-powers were inevitable which means an additional expenses be expected!) and the successful ones will be rewarded to catch Sherry’s on LIVE! concert in one of the venues where we can successfully find her – the Songbird!

To be honest, it was a let-down to see and hear Songbird only inside the iPad, but not able to fly out of the screen from the beginning to the end.

The monotonous pace which the story had led, might take its risk to fall flat hitting the ground if its ending remained, leaving one of their participants – me, thinking “Huh? Like that ended already?!”

By not having a good landing for the bird was a pity, to miss its turning point to take its flight to a higher level!


Despite all, this was a cleverly “created” character, Sherry, first making herself known to the world in her Twitter and blog “Tmblr”, all the plots had to take time in the process, going through all the details before her show. And the whole production was in no doubts spending many months of hard works and efforts by Tara Tan and the team from Studio Now & Then (with app designed by Tinker-tanker), to bring us the new ways of appreciating Arts through interactive games, audio and app…etc,  to experience the difference!

Actually I was hoping Sherry (who is a fictional character played by a 22 year old student from Lasalle, Gabriella Mesenas) is a real singer who will take this opportunity to promote her own written songs and to publicise herself.

Why not take one stone in hitting two birds at the same time, right?

In doing so, not only we can have an experimental Arts Festival’s event and also a chance to bring up a newcomer into our local music scene, and most importantly, to bring climax to the experience!

Isn’t it great to see a real Songbird taking its flight to share with us her songs, then to be kept in her cage still? =)

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