Stamp of friendship

18 June, 2015   Nicolette Mok

Closing Ceremony Farewell Creative Director Beatrice Chia-Richmond said that every stamp that is sent out to the world carries a little bit of Singapore with it. Photo: SINGSOC

The main show segment of the 28th SEA Games Closing Ceremony was centred on stamps - some 13 different kinds, to be more precise.

You must be wondering, at this point, how the creative minds behind the Ceremony presented these stamps to a sold-out crowd at the National Stadium.

Well, they simply brought them to life.

The Parade of Stamps transformed iconic local postage stamps, documenting Singapore’s progress as a nation, into multi-dimensional spectacles just for the evening.

“We chose the stamps because the stamps are, for us, a symbol of reaching out to the rest of the world,” explained the Ceremony’s creative director, Beatrice Chia-Richmond, in a press briefing held earlier this year.

“For every stamp that we send out to the world, it carries a little bit of Singapore with it.”

In fact, keeping in line with the Games’ emphasis on regional friendship, President of Singapore’s National Olympic Council Tan Chuan-Jin also remarked in his speech at the Ceremony: “What I saw was friendship first, competition second.”

Following nostalgic flashback and tribute videos, performances, and the handover of the SEA Games flag to the next host, Malaysia, the historical stamps arrived at the Stadium as floats – gliding, marching, and even flying in.

Dating back to as early as Singapore’s pre-independence years, the stamps were set against a backdrop of the now-familiar – but no less impressive – multi-media projections that the nation had witnessed during the Opening Ceremony just weeks ago.

The Parade of Stamps encompassed three segments – “Historical Stamps”, “Icons of Singapore”, and “People of Singapore” – and the life-sized stamps were arranged thematically rather than chronologically.

Closing Ceremony Farewell The float carrying the National Courtesy Campaign series of stamps from 1979-1988, under the theme of "Icons of Singapore". Photo: SINGSOC

The historical portion comprised both pre- and post-independence stamps, spanning designs from 1949 all the way to 1976, and even starred a handsome Stamford Raffles waving to the crowd. “Icons of Singapore” included a majestic model of Changi Airport’s famed control tower and a Singapore Airlines plane, flown in, naturally, via the Stadium’s aerial system.

“People of Singapore”, on the other hand, involved a whole army of everyday locals. Stamps with illustrations of different sports, religious festivals, traditional trades, and student uniform groups were chosen for this theme, representing the typical Singaporean and, simultaneously, celebrating our diversity.

Re-enacting scenes from years past, the stamp “performers” also impressed the audience with their stellar acting, as well as their highly realistic costumes and make-up, forming almost perfect replicas of the originals. As spectator Alyssa Tan expressed: “We were so amazed by the poses and stillness of the actors that, for a moment, we questioned whether they were really statues!”

“The show’s creative team had taken a simple but unique concept and turned it into something completely beautiful, and filled with significance.” she added.

The Parade’s finale featured a dynamic display that animated this year’s commemorative SEA Games stamps, starring none other than mascot Nila. Young performers, costumed in mini Nila outfits, danced alongside Nila in the middle of the other “stamps”, contributing to the creative and playful mood at the Stadium.

Ending proceedings off with a massive party for the contingents, volunteers, and spectators alike, the sets for the “stamps” were left on the main stage area for everyone to get a close-up look at these intricate works of art – all while dancing to music from renowned DJ Ferry Corsten, who spun around the Stadium in a flying saucer as he, well, spun his tracks for everyone to celebrate the Games’ success.