CURIOS (full length) from CultureLink Singapore on Vimeo.

Curios, a multimedia work commissioned by the Singapore International Festival of the Arts,  revolves around the bizarre and bewitching world of the carnival. As a one-woman show Margaret Leng Tan will fulfill many roles, drawing upon her large arsenal of toys and skills as a performer and pianist extraordinaire.

Scored for  toy piano, toy instruments and amplified objects (some freshly fabricated), the work is inspired by an unidentified, circa 1920 photograph Margaret presented to me. In it three midget clowns are standing in front of a tent: one, with a smirk on his face, points a gun at the tallest clown while the third clown, holding a clarinet, opens a miniature door on the tall clown’s suit revealing a sad dog crouching inside. This grotesque image ignites many contradictory emotions. We long to know what is behind the frozen moment and what else lurks behind the carnival tent.

Whether it be a roomful of carousels or a mysterious space within the piano, the Wunderkammer serves as an invitation for us to enter into a novel sound-world with Margaret as our guide.

Curios was premiered at Singapore as part of Singapore’s 50th year celebration and Margaret’s 70th birthday celebration in  September 2015. The piece also received its Australian premiere at Brisbane in October 2015.


March for whirlarang, hand-cranked toys, tape and video

Wunderkammer for toy percussion, gongs, dog bowls and video and mask

The Kassinos for solo toy piano and and clown nose

Phantasmagoria for toy piano, toy psaltery, video and lantern mask

Carousels for toy piano, music box and video

Arlecchino for toy piano, cuckoo organ and sounding mask

Creative Team:

Phyllis Chen, composer

Margaret Leng Tan, performer

Ranjit Bhatnagar, instrument-builder

Stanley Allen Sherman, mask-maker and theatre coach

Rob Dietz, visual design

Nick Houfek, lighting designer

Caley Monahan-Ward, technical director

Curios Trailer

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  2. Wunderkammer23402137
  3. Phantasmagoriacurios01
  4. The Kassinos587
  5. Carousels
  6.  Arlecchino 11899973_870704519688263_5675868708025465987_n