Liu Xiaoyi is the Artistic Director of Emergency Stairs.
A committed practitioner with a desire to push artistic boundaries, he is regarded as a promising figure at the forefront of the experimental theatre scene in Asia. Xiaoyi received the Young Artist Award awarded by the National Arts Council in 2016.
A multi-faceted and multi-talented artist, Xiaoyi was involved in over 70 theatre productions as director, playwright, and actor over the past two decades. On stage, he is considered one of the most acclaimed male actors from the Singapore theatre scene; as a playwright, he has penned more than 40 plays and is one of the nation’s most prolific playwrights.
As a director, the cornerstones of Xiaoyi’s oft lauded but controversial work are unsurprisingly experimentation, introspection, and poetry. Between 2017 and 2019, he created three new works under his Postdramatic Series in Esplanade that challenged the often-sacred theatre traditions here by introducing a new exploratory theatre format to the discomfort of his audiences. Xiaoyi’s works often polarize, drawing both praise and debate. An example of his much-discussed works, Journey to Nowhere was a creative response to the then-newly unveiled government’s cultural policy paper – Our SG Arts Plan 2018-2022.
Starting with Einstein in the Carpark in 2018, Xiaoyi began to explore the relationship between art and science, expanding theatre space to other fields. In 2019, he started a new project, No More Theatre, to develop collaboration between digital technology and arts, including AI, AR, VR and More. He devotes himself to seeking the development and breakthrough of theatre forms.
A strong proponent of artistic exchanges across artforms, Xiaoyi has been actively promoting dialogues and creation across cultural and geographical lines for many years, particularly the exchange between tradition and contemporary art forms.
As the Artistic Director, Xiaoyi has curated the Southernmost Project, an annual, first-of-its-kind “arts festival for the future” in Singapore since 2017. The inter-cultural festival has regularly brought prominent artists across the region to Singapore for exchange with our artistic community. This inadvertently supports a new network of artists interested to work collaboratively across diverse artforms in Asia.
Xiaoyi is also often invited to prominent cultural exchanges as a speaker and as an artist to collaborate with other established artists from Asia and Europe. To date, his body of works has been staged in many major cities. He has worked with arts companies and tertiary institutions in Singapore, Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Yokohama, Yogyakarta, Bali, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, London, Zurich, Brussels and more.
An educator at heart, Xiaoyi keeps a keen eye on the development of art critique in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region. Over the years, he has started and helmed several talent development platforms in Singapore- the Practice Lab (The Theatre Practice), Emergency Shelter and most recently, the Emergency Academy (Emergency Stairs). The Academy is designed as an incubation programme for promising young Asian cultural leaders and has attracted 18 artists from ten Asian cities in its two-year programme.
In a response to the dearth of critical writing in Singapore, he founded the first Chinese theatre review platform, the Re-Viewers 众观 (http://www.re-viewers.org/) and has served as both its Editor and a mentor since its inception.
Xiaoyi is highly regarded as a mentor and has served on several international artist training/ development programmes, that include The Wharf Workshop (Yokohama), Zurich University of the Arts (Zurich), Silence | Satire by Sàn Art (Ho Chi Minh City), National Taiwan College of Performing Arts (Taipei) and HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity (Hong Kong).
Major Theatre Works
Upstream (Singapore) – Curator/Artistic Director
Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral – Is (Shanghai) – Playwright/Director
Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral – Was (Nanjing) – Playwright/Director
Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral – Is (Nanjing) – Playwright/Director
Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral – Was (Singapore) – Playwright/Director
Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral – Is (Singapore) – Playwright/Director
Struggle: Years Later (Singapore) – Playwright/Director
Legends of the Southern Arch (Singapore) – Playwright
The Coffin is too Big for The Hole (Singapore) – Director
Man to Man (Singapore) – Playwright/Director
Sing to the Spring (Singapore) – Playwright/Director
Planet O 2105 (Singapore) – Playwright/Director
Picking Up (Singapore) – Playwright
Singapore Golden Point Awards (Poetry), National Arts Council of Singapore
Young Artist Awards, National Arts Council of Singapore
Life! Theatre Award (Best Original Script), The Straits Times
Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal, Nanyang Technological University
The 3rd Global Book Report Competition (Champion), The Commercial Press
The 1st Global Book Report Competition (Champion), The Commercial Press
Singapore MOE JM3 scholarship, Ministry of Education of Singapore, 1998