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For two weeks, four strangers put their lives on show to the whole of Singapore. Sounds familiar? Indeed, it is almost like the Truman show, just without the tear jerking scenes. Daily activities ranging from sleeping, shaving, eating were all put on display on the exterior of Raffles City shopping mall as part of their attention grabbing performance since their previous installation entitled “Blue Boys” in 2000.

What a sight it is to catch these foursome in action for twenty-four hours a day. Sealed in a converted window display for fifteen days, the retrofitted space had all the modern day comforts of home. From a computer, beds, kitchen to the tantalizing see-through shower cubicle where stickers of leaves were pasted on all the right locations [to the dismal of female fans].

Winner of the Age Award at the Melbourne Festival and the Gentenar Award in Gent, Belgium as the best show presented, Urban Dream Capsule was part of the Singapore Arts Festival. Part of the outreach program to make the arts more accessible to the public and non-theatre going crowd.

Accessible it was as it took Singapore by storm, becoming the talk of the town. With crazy antics, spontaneously dancing to the music, hugging stuff toys to donning humorous cave man costumes, these four did not fail to entertain. Curious passers-by waved and were often teased in response. Armed with a white board to communicate with the audience through the glass, people’s food, clothes and hairstyles became topics of these silent discussions.

With a computer and a fax machine and lots of space to goof off, people could further communicate with them by emailing and faxing them. Words of encouragement were pinned up against the glass for the audience to read. They were often labeled to as the four “Botak” men. “Botak” meaning bald, a clear reference to their clean-shaven heads appearance.

With a little trap door as their only physical gateway to the outside world, it provided their daily groceries where together with an open kitchen, audiences get to see the cooking process of all the local delicates they whip up [including the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice]. Meal times were always a crowded affair at the urban capsule, as the wine and orange juice flowed. Seated in a row facing the audience, they had lots of company as people watched their every move.

Never alone for a moment, Urban Dream Capsule stole the hearts of Singaporeans. They had become close friends, friends who had opened their homes to us.

Urban Dream Capsule
Date: 30th May – 13th June 2004
Place: Raffles City Convention Center
Address: Esprit at Raffles City, 2 Stamford Road, Singapore 178882

Text: Fann ZJ from npsea Enterprise
Photos: Foong Wei Jiet

[Help wanted] Inviting volunteer staff / pro bono for contribution and translation. Please e-mail to us.