Friday 16 September 2016

Lion City Lit: Uncle Rajah’s Flying Carpet Show

Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore. Our regular column Lion City Lit explores in-depth what’s going on in the City-State, lit-wise. Here Raelee Chapman talks to Dr Chris Mooney-Singh an Australian writer, poet, musician and performance artist who has lived and worked in Singapore for a number of years, and who has made his mark on the City-State as an all-round arts entrepreneur.

Chris and his Singaporean wife Savinder Kaur founded and run the literary arts companies: Word Forward  and Sunbird Arts; the literary festival Lit Up Singapore; Poetry Slam™ Singapore & Malaysia, and the Writers Centre, Singapore.  Over the summer Word Forward had great success with their children’s piece, Uncle Rajah’s Flying Carpet Show, culminating with a performance at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall on National Day, August 9th.

Uncle Rajah lands his magic carpet anywhere, ready with poems and songs relevant to his location. The show begins:

My name is Uncle Rajah
I’m a traveller in time.
I go by flying carpet
and I speak in prose and rhyme.

Chris explained that Uncle Rajah lives beside a desert oasis in a faraway land. He is head honcho of the Spellmakers’ Guild of the Universe. With his sidekick, Skid the Squirrel and seven magical sunbirds, Uncle Rajah flies through time and space keeping Skid and the sunbirds out of trouble and telling of their exploits.

Uncle Rajah loves to tell original stories through a unique form of ‘spoken word theatre’ that presents historical, contemporary and imaginary characters to  children of 3 and older. Uncle Rajah is sometimes joined by Old Stripes, the vegetarian tiger along, with early Singapore merchants known as the Rubber and Pineapple Kings.

The show is interactive. Youngsters get up and learn the Funky Monkey Dance and join in the movements of Chingay Chingay Dragon, an energetic performance piece done with music. On National Day both performances of Uncle Rajah’s Flying Carpet Show were packed to capacity and everyone went away both highly-entertained and a little wiser about Singapore’s early days. Who knows where Uncle Rajah will travel to next? Perhaps he'll land his magic carpet somewhere near you?

 Photo credits: Lee Yew Moon