Sentosa Buskers Festival is such a hoot and so much fun! We got in on the act with an interview with The Amazing Alexander!
Local Magician Alexander Yuen talks to us about how he got into busking, what he enjoys most about busking and the challenges and hopes he has for busking as a profession.
Q: Share with us your busking act.
A: I think my street theatre act can be described as funny, interactive and amazing. I designed this magic show to “break the fourth” wall and to engage and interact with the audiences on the same level. This brings a different dimension to a magic show as my persona is not one that is “all mighty and powerful” instead my persona is one that is personable and slightly playful. This allows audiences to be free to interact with me during the performance and this contributes to the development of the show.
Q: How Long have you been busking?
A: While I have been doing magic for more than 10 years, I have been doing my street performances (or as you would call it, busking) for about 3 years.
Q: What got you into busking?
A: When I was younger, the buskers that I would see tend to be more performative and non-interactive. Also they tend to be older and perhaps suffer from a physical disability. Street performing never got my attention then.
It was only in 2010, when I went to the United States of America for an exchange semester with National University of Singapore that I got to experience what true street performing was. I experienced a half circle show in which the performer was performing magic and stunts. It was a show that was stripped to its bare minimum without any fancy boxes, lightings or show girls, and yet with the performer’s personality, charm and skill, he was able to excite the audiences. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen.
And it made me realize that street performing should not be about pulling the public’s heartstrings for donations; it should be about offering a good show but allowing the audiences to buy tickets at the end of the show at whatever price they deem you deserve. This mindset and approach was something that was not common in the busking scene in Singapore, and I thought I would do it differently.
Q: What do you enjoy most about busking and what do you hope to achieve busking?
A: What I truly enjoy most about street performing is the interaction with my audiences. In the show, I will never know how my audiences would react to any parts of my performance, and because this is a street show (compare with a stage show), I cannot pretend that I did not hear them.
This tests my wit and my ability to think on my toes. And most of the time, what my audiences would say contributes to the show as it adds comedy and laughter to the performance.
Also, because of my persona, audiences are more likely to chat with me at the end of the performance. I enjoy sharing my stories and chatting with my audiences.
One of my overarching goals of doing my Street Theatre show is to try to change the perception of the busking scene in Singapore. By offering street shows that are well designed and can be truly called “a show” with a proper beginning, middle and end, it would raise the standard of street performing in Singapore and make Singapore a more vibrant place to be in.
Q: What are some challenges you experience in busking?
A: In a broader sense, everything has been pretty smooth for us in terms of Street Performing and getting my Street Theatre show out there. We have a lot of support from the public as well as events producers and large festivals that would book my show after watching my performance on the streets.
In a narrower sense, one of the challenges I faced was when an older busker came up to me and demanded that I move to another location as he had been playing his music in the space that I was performing on for years. Even though there is no “ownership” of a particular location, I do move away out of respect for his seniority. But the packing and unpacking can be quite a hassle.
Sentosa Buskers Festival is from 7 to 15 September, 4:30pm to 10:30pm daily.
Come support your local buskers at the Sentosa Buskers Festival and catch them in the act.
You’ll be contributing to charity as well when you visit the island as Sentosa Leisure Group is pledging $1 for every Island Admission ticket between 9 and 15 September to the Children’s Charities Association (CCA), as part of its annual Sentosa Gives charity initiative. This includes admission to the island via the Sentosa Boardwalk, Sentosa Express, vehicular gantry and Singapore Cable Car.
Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.