Preview Guide

The Beast Within: The Studios 2014

By Jo TanEvents - 15 April 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 05 May 2014

The Beast Within: The Studios 2014

Sit back, relax and clap? Not at the Esplanade's celebrated The Studios series, which demands more from its audience than passive applause.

“The Studios features shows that challenge the boundaries in theatre and performance,” explained Pearlyn Cai, programmer at the Esplanade. 

Ranging from experimental to realist, the intimate productions in this series often get viewers closely involved with the subject and characters, sometimes even demanding hands-on participation.

This year, the theme of The Studios series is ‘Beautiful Beasts’, and accordingly, audiences will get up close and personal with all manner of creative creatures. Cai explains, “The line-up of ‘Beautiful Beasts’ explores aspects of human nature – the beautiful and the grotesque, and the inner conflicts and flaws that make us human.”

Theatre fans can look forward to four new premieres including a re-staging of The Finger Players' ‘Rant & Rave’, which was commissioned for the Esplanade's 10th anniversary two years ago. 

Ten Thousand Tigers’ by Ho Tzu Nyen (17-19 Apr), which kicks off the season, is a riotous amalgamation of theatre, video art and sound art exploring the Malayan tiger's various appearances thoughout history and mythology. 

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'Ten Thousand Tigers' Photo: Esplanade

Representing mythical creatures is ‘#UnicornMoment’ by Checkpoint Theatre (8-10 May), starring the lovely actress/host/model Oon Shu An, who defines 'a unicorn moment' as a flash of insight and clarity that quickly disappears.

‘#UnicornMoment’ digs deep into Oon's personal life, uncovering things which she might rather not have known. Since March, Oon has been interviewing friends, past teachers, even exes, asking them personal questions about their relationships and sometimes their opinion of her. 

As a lead-up to the performance itself, her findings are recorded as brutally honest, often heart-breaking Youtube podcasts, which, in the interactive spirit of The Studios, also ask viewers to share their stories.

“It was a lot harder than I imagined because I didn't realise how many things in my life I’ve been ignoring or avoiding,” confessed Oon. “I had an interview with a long time friend where I asked some very hard questions, basically questioning our friendship. I regret that interview a lot. I've tried contacting her three times since, but have not heard back.”

“To then share (things I've been hiding from) with complete strangers … was very scary. It became easier as people started to share their stories as well; strangers on the Internet, people in my life and on the ‘#UnicornMoment’ team! Then came this realisation that the show was connecting people and that made the journey worth it.”

Other beautiful beasts making an appearance include a legendary painter, and a boy completely debilitated by eczema. ‘Red’ (10-13 Jul) by celebrated playwright John Logan, is about the famous and formidable American artist Mark Rothko, a temperamental celebrity. In the play (and in real life), he terrorised his assistant while they worked on the Seagram Murals for New York's Four Seasons restaurant.

Gavin Yap and Daniel Jenkins from 'Red'. Image: Esplanade

“An artist of great ego as well as passion, Rothko was a beautiful beast,” said Samantha Scott-Blackhall, the award-winning director of this production.

Again, in proud Studios tradition, the audience will be able to get deep into the psyche of the subject, not through Youtube confessionals this time, but by watching artists live at work.

“Red is a very ‘hands on’ play. The characters mix paints, prime canvases and really do paint! The stage is going to get very messy,” laughed Scott-Blackhall.

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Wang Lian Sheng's 'The Boy Inside'. Photo: Esplanade

Meanwhile, ‘The Boy Inside’ (17-18 Jun) is a semi-autobiographical piece by young writer Wang Lian Sheng, about a child whose scaly eczema turns him into a despicable creature in the eyes of society.

Wang found this story from his own youthful tribulations. “Eczema leaves visible scars. But that shouldn’t preclude a person with eczema from having the liberty to find beauty underneath,” ponders the lawyer-cum-playwright on having been, himself, a beautiful beast.

‘The Boy Inside’ is part of the “RAW Series”, itself a proud part of The Studios. This year, the platform is presenting three shows besides Wang’s: ‘other/s’ by Elizabeth de Roza and Danny Yeo, as well as Edith Podesta’s ‘Dark Room x8’.

“RAW is a platform set up in 2011 as part of The Studios to support the creation of new work, where artists try out new ideas in front of a live audience and further develop their work with the feedback received from them,” Esplanade’s Cai shared. It's also completely free for audiences, who then give opinions and feedback in lieu of payment.

So for an intimate experience with some fascinating creatures, come get dizzyingly up close and personal to an entire sensational safari of beautiful beasts at The Esplanade Theatre Studio this season.

 

The Studios Ten Thousand Tigers by Ho Tzu Nyen

The Studios Ten Thousand Tigers by Ho Tzu Nyen

Date Apr 17, 2014 - Apr 19, 2014

VenueEsplanade Theatre Studio

Ticket PriceS$28.00
 (excludes booking fee)

The Studios 2014 #UnicornMoment by Checkpoint Theatre

The Studios 2014 #UnicornMoment by Checkpoint Theatre

Date May 08, 2014 - May 10, 2014

VenueEsplanade Theatre Studio

Ticket PriceS$10.00 - S$28.00
 (excludes booking fee)

The Studios 2014: Red by Blank Space Theatre

The Studios 2014: Red by Blank Space Theatre

Date Jul 10, 2014 - Jul 13, 2014

VenueEsplanade - Theatres on The Bay

Ticket PriceS$28.00
 (excludes booking fee)