Poor Thing: A typical day in the Singaporean social media space

26 02 2014

Yes, another typical day in Singapore and another incident on the roads that leads to a reaction that is overblown through photos and videos of it finding their way onto social media platforms … only this time, it isn’t for real, but staged – for the stage.

PoorThing

Poor Thing, a rather clever production by local theatre company The Necessary Stage that is inspired by what goes on on social media sites such as the rather infamous local so-called “Citizen Journalism” site STOMP  and popular platforms such Facebook and Youtube opens today at The Necessary Stage Black Box. The one-hour long production, written by Haresh Sharma and directed by Alvin Tan, may not be your typical theatre production in that the audience is free to move and even interact with what goes on on stage and through the social media by befriending one of the characters, but certainly examines the typical reaction of Singaporeans to such incidents when aired on social media.

The production, for which a script was only developed after a first series of rehearsals, does also see the actors exercising some degree of improvisation as they go along – making it all a rather interesting experience not just for the audience but also for those on stage. Poor Thing, which sees Siti Khalijah Zainal, Sharda Harrison, Dwayne Lau and Joshua Lim deliver rather intense performances on stage, runs from 26 February to 2 March and from 5 March to 9 March and limited tickets are still available at http://poorthing.peatix.com/.

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Ten years on the Fringe

4 10 2013

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival celebrates its tenth birthday when it is held from 8 to 19 January next year (2014). Next year’s Fringe, the theme of which is Art & the People, will see the fifteen works of artists representing six countries which will include performances, video screenings and visual art installations and interestingly performances which will see some level of interaction with the audiences.

Artistic Directors of the festival, Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma together with Festival Manager, Melissa Lim.

Artistic Directors of the festival, Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma together with Festival Manager, Melissa Lim.

The festival’s highlights are an adaptation by Nine Years Theatre (九年剧场) in Mandarin of Henrik Ibsen’s iconic play An Enemy of the People (人民公敌), a festival commission; Portuguese company Mundo Perfeito’s Three Fingers below the Knee, which addresses what company sees as the shared heritage of censorship through the use of censored parts of plays written during four decades years of dictatorship; Hiroshi Sunairi’s Majulah Singapura – Tree Project, which revolves around the growing of Hibaku trees that survived the atomic bombings in Hiroshima.

Mundo Perfeito.

Mundo Perfeito.

Hiroshi Sunairi.

Hiroshi Sunairi.

An excerpt of Enemy of the People.

An excerpt of Enemy of the People.

The festival sees seven commissioned works from Singapore which besides the Enemy of the People, also includes The Mountain by The Art of Strangers; Joget, Abang, Joget (Dance, Darling, Dance) by ponggurl which is helmed by Noor Effendy Ibrahim; Take Me or Leave Me, by The Necessary Stage’s Theatre for Seniors; Alecia Neo’s Unseen; Ong Kian Peng’s The Face Daily – a daily newspaper with “news” grabbed from Facebook feeds;  and Tan Wei Keong’s Foundin.

Noor Effendy Ibrahim (L).

Noor Effendy Ibrahim (L).

The Mountain which is presented by a new performance collective, is based on a story by Amitav Ghosh – which is a reflection of the relationship between art, people and global warming. Interestingly, the this will involve the fifteen members of the audience which each of the three performances is limited to who will together with fifteen performers who through storytelling and role-playing, provide an immersive and intimate experience.

An excerpt of The Mountain which will see performers involving the audience.

An excerpt of The Mountain which will see performers involving the audience.

Also to look out for is perhaps the Theatre for Seniors’ two afternoons of free forum theatre performances in Take Me or Leave Me, which takes a look at real life situations faced by seniors – divorce in old age and the abandonment of the elderly. The Theatre for Senoirs’ programme was started by The Necessary Stage in April 2008 and involves senior citizens trained by professional theatre practitioners in theatre making skills – the two performances are devised by the members of the Theatre for Seniors and will also involved interaction with the audience. 

Thomas of The Necessary Stage's Theatre for Seniors.

Thomas Lim of The Necessary Stage’s Theatre for Seniors.

The festival will see tickets (for ticketed performances) priced at $19 (excluding SISTIC fee) with a 20% discount for M1 customers and involves four venues – The Namtional Museum of Singapore, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, ION Art, ION Orchard, and The Substation. More information can be found on the festival’s website www.singaporefringe.com. Tickets can be purchased through SISTIC.





More Crossings

17 08 2012

Photographs taken at the full dress rehearsal of Crossings at the Esplanade taken on the eve of the opening … more information on Crossings, a collective effort by The Necessary Stage of Singapore and TRAFIK of Croatia in collaboration with Esplanade Theatres on the Bay’s The Studios, can be found on a previous post (click here).

Bani Haykal.

Edvin Liveric.

Najib Soiman.

Edvin Liveric and Najib Soiman.

Sharda Harrison.

Sharda Harrison and Najib Soiman.

Sharda Harrison and Najib Soiman.

Sharda Harrison.

Najib Soiman and Sharda Harrison.

Sharda Harrison.

Sharda Harrison and Najib Soiman.

Edvin Liveric.

Zac Valenta.

From left to right: Zac Valenta, Chuang Xiu’Er, Najib Soiman and Sharda Harrison.

Sharda Harrison and Najib Soiman.

Edvin Liveric.

Chuang Xiu’Er.

Chuang Xiu’Er with Bani Haykal in the foreground.

Chuang Xiu’Er and Sharda Harrison.

Sharda Harrison.

Bani Haykal, Najib Soiman and Sharda Harrison.

Najib Soiman and Sharda Harrison.

Sharda Harrison.

Najib Soiman and Sharda Harrison.

Najib Soiman.

Sharda Harrison.

Edvin Liveric.

Edvin Liveric.

Edvin Liveric.

Zac Valenta and Sharda Harrison.





Crossings into cross-cultural cross-dressing

16 08 2012

Curious about or puzzled by that photograph of the Caucasian man dressed in a Nonya kebaya I posted the other day? I have a shocking revelation … not only was that man seen in the kebaya, but also in a bright red saree, and in the company of yet another man spotted that same afternoon in a bright red dress …

The same man in a bright red saree.

Seen in the company of another in a bright red dress.

Shocking as it would seem, residents of the housing estate in which the cross-dressed men were spotted in can rest assured that this isn’t the start of a transvestite invasion but an attempt at artistic expression – expression that is part of a cross cultural multidisciplinary collaboration of artists from two countries, Singapore and Croatia. The men – and several other performers had crossed-dressed for roles of their fellow artists for the recording of a multimedia segment of the performance which will be juxtaposed onto the live performance on stage.

Singapore performer Sharda Harrison dressed for Edvin Liveric’s role for the recording of the multimedia segment.

Najib Soiman.

Bani Haykal, Sound Artist.

Zac Valenta.

Chuang Xiu’Er, Sharda Harrison and Najib Soiman.

I was provided with the opportunity to photograph the recording of the multimedia segment, as well as a full dress rehearsal at The Necessary Stage last week. The theatre company is putting the performance, named Crossings, together with Croatian based TRAFIK. Crossings is being presented in collaboration with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay as part of The Studios and involves a series of cultural exchanges, workshops and improvisations. Crossings as described in the synopsis will explore fundamental questions that will make us confront who we are and how we can survive in today’s global village, investigating the coexistence, understanding and mixing of different cultures.

One of the opening scenes shot during the full dress rehearsal at The Necessary Stage on Saturday.

Sharda Harrison plays the role of the woman at the centre of a somewhat abusive love-hate relationship that she finds it hard to escape from.

The performance explores elements of violence in the male-female relationship.

While the performance seems like a confusion of scenes and characters that at times seem to have no connection with each other, there is a central theme that revolves around the male-female relationship in society and across cultures. There is also an attempt to examine somewhat taboo subjects such as domestic violence and non conventional sexual relationships that have perhaps become quite prevalent in our society, as well as the role of myths and traditions in the two societies which are being brought together in the performance – all of which makes for a fascinating story. Crossings debuts this evening at the Esplanade and plays in Singapore until 19 August 2012. It will also tour the National Theatre of Rijeka in Croatia from 19 to 20 September 2012. More information can be found at The Necessary Stage and The Studios.

There are also characters that seemingly unconnected with the central theme of the story, introduce myths that influence the cultures of the two countries.

Najib Soiman gives a masterly performance.

Chuang Xiu’Er.

Edvin Liveric as a male stripper.

Zac Valenta and Sharda Harrison.

A light used during the rehearsal.

Sharda Harrison and Najib Soiman.

Another of Sharda Harrison and Najib Soiman.


Synopsis

A woman who is a victim of a social scandal proves her fidelity by passing a test. Yet, her society does not believe her. She is exiled by her husband who is dedicated to serving his people and so has to listen to their discernment to remain in power. Will she sacrifice for the larger good and suffer the unjust allegation to be with her husband or will she walk?

Based on Asian myths, Crossings take us on a journey of the transformation of the self – how one deals with the seduction of being imprisoned and how freedom opens us to meaningless pain.

Crossings is a multidisciplinary collaboration between artists from Singapore and Croatia investigating the coexistence, understanding and mixing of different cultures.

The collective comprises:

Sharda Harrison [Performer]
Bani Haykal [Sound Artist]
Vincent Lim [Set Designer]
Edvin Liveric [Performer]
Loo Zihan [Multimedia Artist]
Josip Marsic [Composer]
Haresh Sharma [Script Editor]
Najib Soiman [Performer]
Alvin Tan [Director]
Zac Valenta [Performer]

The play will be performed in multiple languages, with English surtitles. Suitable for patrons aged 15 years and above.

Crossings will premiere at Esplanade’s The Studios Season from 16 – 19 August before touring to the National Theatre of Rijeka [Croatia] from 19 – 20 September 2012.

There will be a post-show discussion with the artists for 17 & 18 Aug, Fri & Sat, 8pm performance.

Crossings is presented by The Necessary Stage and TRAFIK in collaboration with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay as part of The Studios.

16-18 Aug, Thu-Sat, 8pm
18-19 Aug, Sat-Sun, 3pm

Esplanade Theatre Studio
(1hr 10 mins, no intermission)

Tickets: $25
Concessions for students: $10
Concessions for NSF and senior citizens: $16


Sharda Harrison on her role