Sunday, May 13, 2018

Diva's Reylo Fan Art Series: Rachel Xin's Unmistakably Fluid and Dynamic Art Style

OK, OK. Red Dot Diva has to confess.

She cannot get enough of Reylo.

For the uninitiated, that's the ship name for Rey and Kylo Ren - the two characters from the latest Star Wars trilogy who represent the Light Side and Dark Side of the Force. Their fateful bond and intertwining destinies have spurred the imagination of fans who dare (or dare not) hope for their romantic relationship to succeed. Who else other than Rey is able call Kylo by his real name Ben, without having him visibly scowl and flinch?

Thanks to Rian Johnson, Reylo fans were given more soul food in "The Last Jedi". After much debate, Reylo has now become canon. The sexual tension during their ForceTime together was undeniable. And ooh, those few seconds of shirtless Kylo. *fans self* Mmmm...

A deluge of Reylo fanart has been flooding social media since then, and many of them have been either tragically angsty, gleefully humourous, or simply beautifully rendered.

To keep the flame of Reylo going, Red Dot Diva will be putting up a blog series on selected artists who have produced some of the popular Reylo fan art in social media. The first in the series is an interview with USC animation department graduate, Rachel Xin.

Rachel hails from China, and before studying in USC, she was a graduate of Beijing Film Academy, majoring in Animation. She has also recently finished a freelance job at Warner Bros as a character designer. Her passion is drawing (obviously!), and she enjoys watching movies and travelling.

One just needs to take a peek at Rachel's website and social media timeline to see that her fluid, almost Chinese brush-like artistic style is obviously East Asian. Other hints include the posture and facial expression of the characters in her art.

These translate so well in her Reylo art, as Chinese love stories are usually quite tragic, and Rachel skillfully infuses that sentiment with Western pop-culture with nuanced details that are familiar to Asian fans.

It is amazing how Rachel is able to conceptualize and make these static images stick in one's visual memory. Judging by her artwork and content, Red Dot Diva is sure Rachel will go far. So, she got in touch with Rachel to find out more about her art style, her thoughts on Reylo, and her aspirations.

Red Dot Diva: How did you get into art/ illustration and animation? 
Rachel: I have been fond of drawing since I was a kid. The white wall in my house was painted to a mess by me. The good thing was that my parents never blamed me for that. Instead, they sent me to various interest classes, like piano, dancing, calligraphy and drawing. 

For a 4-year-old, these classes were pretty heavy, so I found all kinds of excuses to skip the classes. I pretended to be sick to avoid practicing piano, but I never gave up on art! From that time I knew I probably would draw for the rest of my life! I love drawing manga, watching animation and movies. I love telling stories. My parents had always been supporting me with the attitude of “do what you like”, so naturally, I chose a high school which specializes in fine arts. I went to the best film school in China to learn animation, and after that I chose to further my study in the U.S.!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Singapore Repertory Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar - A Fascinating, Modern Take on an Old Tale


The weather was sticky and muggy last Sunday evening, but Red Dot Diva felt happy to be back in Fort Canning Park for an evening of theatre accompanied by a enjoyable picnic on the lawn. She was there to indulge in one of the biggest Shakespeare in the Park productions in the region - Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT)'s adaptation of Julius Caesar. The production also part of SRT's 25th Anniversary celebrations.

In 2017, SRT called off the beloved annual Shakespeare in the Park due to funding issues, as they saw large sponsors depart and production costs rise. However, with backing from loyal corporate sponsors as well as support and crowdfunding from an ardent group of theatre lovers, the outdoor production is back in its usual venue, with a huge impressive set!

Right after entering Fort Canning's Gothic Gates, attendees were invited to climb up the stairs from backstage and to walk around the modern, "concrete-and-glass" looking Roman Piazza set. A semi-circular structure held an audio-visual display, and flags of the seven "nations" of the R.O.M.E. alliance marked the stage where the Shakespearean tragedy will later unfold. Standing up on stage with ushers who were dressed the part as government officials, Red Dot Diva felt as if she has already become part of the story.




Sunday, April 29, 2018

Diva's Interview with Albin Johnson and R2-KT, guests of May the 4th Festival 2018


Two wonderful special guests will be celebrating Star Wars Day aka May the 4th Celebrations 2018 with the local Star Wars community in Red Dot Island next weekend. They are Albin Johnson, the founder of the international costuming group the 501st legion, and R2-KT, a compassionate yet spunky pink astromech droid who is also known as the pink beacon of hope.

Both Albin and R2-KT have made appearances in countless events through the years, especially focusing on bringing hope to seriously and terminally ill children at hospitals around the U.S.A. This time, the duo will be entering into hyperspace to visit the Red Dot Island, with a mission to bring more joy and hope to the fans and children here.

In fact, R2-KT has arrived a week early and is already on the island. She got her new power cells, oil baths, fancy polishes... basically, getting all prettied and prepped up for Star Wars Day.

Here she is, chillin' out before she charms everyone's feet off.

R2-KT holidaying in Red Dot Island (pic by Hansen Khoo)
Before it gets too wild at the May the 4th Festival next weekend, Red Dot Diva caught hold of both of them (via an efficient protocol droid through a secured channel, of course!) for a quick interview.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SRT's Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar - Diva's Interview with Director, Guy Unsworth


Freelance director Guy Unsworth is currently back here working on another Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) production - the upcoming performance of Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar.

Last year, he directed the dark comedy SRTs "Hand of God", which scored positive reviews from critics and audiences. His recent works include an acclaimed UK tour of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and his own adaptation of "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em".

Even though he is busy getting the play ready for the 2 May launch date, Red Dot Diva managed to grab a few minutes of his time for an interview:

Red Dot Diva: How did you get involved with SRT's Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar? 
Guy Unsworth: I was introduced to Gaurav Kripalani and Juliet Chia back in 2016 and since then we’ve been talking about the exciting potential of Julius Caesar. I came to Singapore last year to stage Hand to God, and since then have been working solidly on this production.

RDD: What is it like adapting the play for Singapore audiences?
Guy: It’s a fun challenge. I was very keen to find a contemporary equivalent that would work in the international community of Singapore. There’s a lot of talk about Rome and Romans in the play, but specifically the honour, history and responsibility that that identity carries. The big question for me to answer therefore was ‘What is the equivalent of Rome today?’. More than just a literal place, 'Rome' is an identity, it’s a community, and a title which binds these people together. It then struck me that intergovernmental organisations like NATO, the UN, G7, G20 etc. carry stakes on a much more global scale. They require their members to work as a team, but inevitably alliances form and factions are made. And where better to have lots of different nationalities coming together than Singapore? So it seemed a perfect fit to set this at a R.O.M.E. summit.

I was also excited by the age range of the Singapore audiences and I want the show to reach out to younger audience members. When I was a teenager I found Shakespeare very difficult to get my head into, so whenever I direct it, I'm very keen to bear my younger self in mind. It's going to be pretty fast and furious, and there are lots of theatrical surprises along the way. I want to make something which my teenage self would have enjoyed.

Monday, April 23, 2018

SRT's Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar - Diva's Interview with Actor, Julie Wee

In Shakespeare's historical and political thriller "Julius Caesar", one could argue that the senator Caius Cassius is more of a baddie than the titular character. After all, the politician was the main instigator of the plot to kill Caesar.

Starting 2 May 2018 at Fort Canning Park, Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) will be presenting Shakespeare in the Park -"Julius Caesar", set in modern times. Two key characters in the play has been cast as females. Well-known actress Jo Kukathas takes up the lead role of Caesar, while Julie Wee - a familiar face for local viewers, having been on Mediacorp 5 TV series like "Moulmein High" and "Light Years" - will be playing the manipulative and politically savvy Cassius.

Julie is no stranger to SRT's Shakespeare in the Park productions either. She has acted as Portia in "The Merchant of Venice", Miranda in "The Tempest", Hero in "Much Ado About Nothing" and Bianca in "Othello". "Julius Caesar" will be her 5th Shakespeare in the Park role!

To get some dibs about Julie's role in "Julius Caesar", Red Dot Diva got in touch with her for a mini interview.

Red Dot Diva: Hi, Julie! It’s just a couple of weeks away from the first day of SRT’s Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar. How excited are you to be finally on stage with a live audience? 
Julie Wee: Very excited! The audience is the missing character in rehearsals, so it's always such a relief to finally have them with us to share the story.

Monday, April 16, 2018

ArtScience Museum's "Marvel Studios: Ten Years of Heroes" Exhibition Begins 9 June 2018


"Avengers: Infinity War" is set to have an epic showdown of Thanos versus almost everyone's favourite Marvel superheros. The film, plugged as the biggest movie event of the year, premieres in Red Dot Island on 26 April 2018. It is going to be longest Marvel movie, with a runtime of 2 hours 36 minutes. So, do plan your toilet breaks accordingly!

After watching the "Avengers: Infinity War" movie, Marvel fans can indulge with even more superheroes fun at a special interactive exhibition called "Marvel Studios: Ten Years of Heroes", which will be held at ArtSci Museum. Curating from Marvel's decade of movies (which consists of 19 films in total), the exhibition will present the superheroes, like Iron-Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, Starlord and more, via cutting-edge AV and media technology.

Fans will be transported into these Marvel cinematic worlds, with interactive exhibits that include segments from the recent international hit "Black Panther", "Thor: Ragnorak", "Avengers: Infinity War" and the upcoming "Ant_man & the Wasp".

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Drowning In Kawaii-ness at the Tokidoki x Kumoya Cafe


Kumoya Cafe has collaborated with lifestyle brand Tokidoki for a pop-up cafe. The entire set up is filled with wildly colourful Tokidoki characters, making it an Instagrammer's dream come true!

This is the world's first Tokidoki cafe, and it is open till the end of June 2018.


LAUNCH OF CAFE ON 29 MARCH

Red Dot Diva went to the official launch two weeks ago. Simone Legno, co-founder of Tokidoki, was back in Red Dot Island for the opening as well as meet and greet for 30 fans at a first-come, first-served basis.


A post shared by Red Dot Diva (@reddotdiva) on


When she arrived, there was already a long line of hardcore Tokidoki fans waiting to meet Simone. Luckily, she managed to score the last ticket for the meet and greet.

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