ayer hitaM

A BLACK HISTory of singapore (SG/UK)

In this lecture performance, actress Sharon Frese explores the history and influence of the African diaspora in Singapore. Dredging the archives, she shares images and documents relating to slavery, colonialism, jazz and nationalist struggle, reaffirming the value of black culture as part of our shared heritage.

This event is both a history lesson and a theatrical ritual. The creators commemorate the untold numbers of black men and women—enslaved, indentured and expatriate—who crossed the oceans into unknown territory. They draw strength from these tides, which Indian convicts called the “black water”—in Hindi “kala pani”, or in Malay “ayer hitam”.


Written by        Ng Yi-sheng
Performed by    Sharon Frese, Ng Yi-sheng
Directed by       Irfan Kasban

ALL photos belong to irfan kasban

It is a personal connection that renders Ayer Hitam’s fascinating insight into a marginalised part of local history especially powerful.
— Olivia Ho for The Straits Times

AYER HITAM continues to raise awareness of singapore’s Black history. stay woke and join us here.


ayer hitam is available to be presented for various groups of audience and in different spaces.

for booking/enquiries, email us at theartofstrangers@gmail.com

performance HISTORY

17-20 Jan 2019:

M1 Singapore fringe festival

31 Jan 2019:

yale-nus college diversity week


We are no longer grateful to have our existence acknowledged, we expect it. Ng went beyond those expectations, taking time to delve into archives and follow the threads of black lives in and around Singapore, weaving it into the colourful tapestry that was Ayer Hitam.
— Iwani Mawocha for ArtsEquator