Mahatma Gandhi once said that you don't know who is important to you until you lose them.
Deaths of loved ones, losing relationships, losing physical ability, purpose and identity – most of us have gone through some form of loss.
"Art and Loss" is the theme that the M1 Fringe Festival will explore next year.
An arts festival that is in its 11th edition and will run from 14 to 25 January 2015, it will feature a line-up of 18 plays, exhibitions, masterclasses and talks from artists and performers from eight countries.
Anyone who has lived on the earth any length of time will have experienced some form of loss
A new team is behind next year's festival, with theatre practitioner and educator Sean Tobin taking over from longtime festival co-directors Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma.
On why the theme was chosen, Tobin told inSing in an interview: “Anyone who has lived on the earth any length of time will have experienced some form of loss, or another. And for every loss we experience, there are perhaps 10 more things we are worried about losing. If we are not careful, we can live life in such a way that we are led by fear of loss.”
He added, “I love, too, that even though the word 'loss' may typically connote something negative and sombre, there is a great deal of playfulness, warmth and cheekiness in a range of the works.”
The upcoming programme does look promising, offering something playful, something fantastical, as well as heartwarming and contemplative productions.
'The Duchamp Syndrome'. Photo: Lia Rueda
‘The Duchamp Syndrome’ (14-15 Jan 2015) from Mexico’s Por Piedad Teatro features marionettes, toys and an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner, while France’s Groupe ACM’s meta piece, ‘Under Pressure—Temporary Title’ (24-25 Jan) is a behind-the-scenes show about creating a play, which goes haywire. Canadian choreographer Nicolas Cantin’s ‘Grande Singe’ (R18, 22-23 Jan) is a fusion of dance and theatre that explores the encounters between men and women.
Returning to the festival again is Singapore artist Loo Zihan and his provocative ‘With/Out’ (14-18 Jan).
'Under Pressure--Temporary Title'. Photo: Blaise Parmentier
IN MEMORY OF PADDY CHEW
Specially commissioned for the festival, Loo’s performance-installation is based on The Necessary Stage’s ‘Completely With/Out Character’, a monologue by the late Paddy Chew, the first person in Singapore to come out in public as being HIV-positive. Staged in 1999, Chew died a few months after the production.
Tobin was excited when the artist proposed revisiting this work, which “is potent with such important concerns and questions for us 15 years later”.
“I think it’s a beautiful and worthy experiment to explore how one might represent a performance, when the performer has gone. Zihan has already done a great deal of detailed research for this project, and has a lot of ideas already in development,” Tobin said.
'White Rabbit Red Rabbit'. Photo: Pink Elephant Labs
Another hot-ticket performance is Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s ‘White Rabbit Red Rabbit’ (21-24 Jan), an absurdist adventure which sits on the boundary of comedy and drama.
LOSS OF FREEDOM
Soleimanpour is not allowed to leave his native Iran, as he is a conscientious objector who has refused to take part in military service, which is mandatory for all Iranian men.
Unable to travel, he turned his isolation to his own advantage with a play that requires no director, no set and a different actor for each performance.
Performed earlier this year at the National University of Singapore Arts Festival, the play will feature a different actor for each of its four nights — Lim Kay Siu, Pam Oei, Benjamin Kheng and Karen Tan — and the actors will get their script only on the day itelf.
Tan Ngiap Heng's 'Fade'. Photo: Tan Ngiap Heng
There will also be an exhibition of works by Singaporean photographer Tan Ngiap Heng. ‘Fade’ (14-25 Jan) is Tan’s photo installation that features images from his smartphone, representing his most personal memories, and people are encouraged to take away the images they like.
The festival will also include a masterclass (17-18 Jan 2014) by theatre veterans Haresh Sharma and recent Cultural Medallion winner Alvin Tan, who will present their creative process.
There will also be two Fringe-related talks with some of the festival performers: ‘Reimagining Singapore Theatre’ on 22 November, and ‘The Presence And Power Of The Playwright’ on 25 January 2015.
M1 Fringe Festival | Date: 14- 25 Jan 2015 | Time: Various timings | Venues: Esplanade (1 Esplanade Drive), National Museum of Singapore (93 Stamford Rd), Centre 42 (42 Waterloo Street), Ion Art (Level 4, Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn), Drama Centre Black Box (#05-01, National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street)
Zaki Jufri writes about the arts, entertainment, film and other stuff for inSing.com