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Inspired by Italo Calvino’s "Invisible Cities" describing conversations on real and imagined cities between Macro Polo and Kublai Khan, Visible Cities is a modern tale that contemplates different cultural journeys, their historical, contemporary and imagined realities, and explores the high-stakes realities of international fashion, globalism, immigration, and counterfeit culture. Nominated for Best Script for the Singapore Life! Theatre Awards, the play weaves narratives taking place in Italy, China, the United States and fantasy, and reveals how we are interconnected and complicit in the pursuit of personal happiness and global capitalism.


Visible Cities was a co-commission and co-production between the Singapore Arts Festival, Fattore K, and Napoli Teatro Festival Italia. It was first presented on May 23, 2009 at the Drama Center, Singapore, and on 6 June, 2009 at the Real Albergo dei Poveri in Naples  The production was directed by Giorgio Barberio Corsetti.  

Jessica: Ali Ahn

Tomaso: Gabriele Benedetti

Bianca: Fiora Blasi

Bird / Kublai Khan: Andrea Di Casa

Officer / Fish:  Lim Kay Tong

Mrs. Zanetti / Snake / Marco Polo: Federica Santoro

Rat / Catfish: Zhao Si Han


"Rich and complex... Visible Cities with its labyrinthine plot which criss-crosses continents and cultures is a rich, ambitious work addressing issues such as globalization, trade and commerce and the inequities of power, especially in terms of class and money. Yew's play addresses many issues related to globalization such as the clash of cultures and languages and an ever-shifting sense of home. What can we trust in in this mixed-up world where nothing is as it seems, heroes are revealed to be villains, and, in the end, two disparate stories are revealed to be only too painfully inter-woven? Is there a way for us to ever find anything authentic, genuine and pure? The play remains ambiguous on this to the very end, only hinting at the possibility of hope in a world where all artifice and lies are stripped away - and in doing so, perhaps reflects the greatest truth of all. [Visible Cities is a] brutally funny, toweringly tragic and outstandingly clever work." (The Flying Inkpot)

"A rich and intoxicating work... impressed by the scale of its ambition and how it reached across countries, cultures, languages and art form. At the same time, it is surprisingly intimate and tender when it explored the difficulties faced by ordinary people dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of contemporary life." (Singapore Straits Times) 


"Mad World" - The Flying Inkpot

"S'pore Too Cushy For Artists?: Back To Stage His Latest Work, Playwright Says Stories About The Heartland Not Being Told" (Singapore Straits Times)

"A Tale of Two Cities: New York based, Singapore-born script writer Chay Yew, delves into Marco Polo's history and life for his upcoming play" - Singapore Straits Times

Visible Cities show programs

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