Monday, January 05, 2009

History Of The Victoria Theatre Singapore Nostalgia Can Aid Mental Health

Journal Article:

Nostalgia is not a psychiatric disorder and occurs in all cultures and amongst all age group. Research suggests that it can promote psychological health with overall positive feelings including higher self esteem and the increased feeling of being loved. It counteracts the effects of loneliness and increases perceptions of social support.

Nostalgia provides a link between our past and present selves i.e. it may provide us with a positive view which could help to give a greater sense of continuity and meaning to our lives. It may acquire greater significance in old age as elderly adults are vulnerable to social isolation. "Nostalgia is now emerging as a fundermental human strength and we play a starring role in our nostalgic scenes."

The first image shows a house party, at a bungalow at Mountbatten Road, which blogger organised. It shows the dancing that took place at the large patio. For dance music, records spin from a radiogram and tapes on large spools were played that evening. Later on in the evening, the lights were dimmed. Just across Mountbatten Road and beyond a row of bungalows was the open sea at Katong, where many young couples enjoy a private moment.The second image shows the Victoria Theatre with the clock tower where many dances and music events are held. It still stands today.

From: http://PsychCentral.ComRick Nauert (PhD), Senior News Editor, Association for Psychological Science15.12.2008
Image 1: Home Party-1963 Andy Lim Collection. Image 2: Victoria Theatre - 1962 from National Heritage Board Website

Victoria Theatre (posted on 4th August, 2010)
"Reliving the Glory Days:
The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District is one of the most historically versatile buildings in all of Singapore. In the course of its nearly 150-year history, apart from being a focal point for arts and cultural entertainment, this handsome Victorian-era colonial landmark with its distinctive Palladian clock tower, Italianate windows and rusticated columns was once a town hall, hospital and a war crimes trials court.

The history of this building is a fascinating one. In fact, you’ll be surprised to know that it wasn’t even originally intended to be a theatre. Designed by prominent architect John Bennett, it actually began life as the young colony’s Town Hall in 1862. The fact that it had two large halls on each of its two floors allowed it to stage concerts. And soon, while it thronged to the footsteps of municipal employees in the day, amateur groups were busy putting on plays and concerts at night.

When Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, the colonial government decided to erect a memorial to her long reign, deciding that a public hall alongside the existing Town Hall building would be a fitting tribute. And sensibly, they decided, in the name of continuity, to keep the same architectural style as the earlier municipal building.

The new building was christened Victoria Memorial Hall upon completion in 1905, and almost immediately, the Town Hall underwent renovations to turn it into a theatre, with the space between the buildings earmarked for a splendid clock tower. The makeover project (to turn the complex into three different parts) was completed in 1909 when Victoria Theatre officially opened.

In the period before World War II, the Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall staged many concerts, musicals and plays, including a performance by Noel Coward in 1930. It was lucky to have survived intact during the Japanese air raids, and during the Japanese Occupation its strategic location in the city saw it being used as a hospital.

During peaceful times, it was also the scene of political milestones, chief among them the launch of the ruling People’s Action Party in 1954. And then in 1962, the original bronze statue of Singapore’s founder Stamford Raffles, which had been standing at the nearby Padang for years, was moved to the front of the building. When the Singapore Symphony Orchestra moved in 1979, the complex was renamed Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

To preserve the grandeur and allure of the old dame, it will close later this year for an extensive two-and-half year renovation, before reopening in 2013. So on your visit to Singapore, don’t miss your final chance to capture a slice of its old glory."

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Anonymous said...

I agree with the view that nostalgia has the ability to bestow on us some psychological and health benefits.

A picture for instance can trigger off a chain of forgotten but pleasant memories and you are the happier for it.

Well done Sir

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
Thank you for your interesting comment. The picture above could trigger off some memories and nostalgia as it was taken at a very large bungalow at Mountbatten Road. A few guitar groups started their humble beginnings playing at this palatial home.

Apparently the band was situated in the living room (unseen) while the merrymakers danced in the verandah under the bright moonlight.

Nostalgia indeed from the mid-sixties.


Andy Young* said...

The Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall were venues for many local bands. The Silver Strings entertained here too with Shirley Nair. More of the scene in my later blogs.
Andy Young