Breaking boundaries: M1 Fringe Festival 2013

By Zaki JufriEvents - 23 October 2012 3:06 PM | Updated 21 November 2012

Breaking boundaries: M1 Fringe Festival 2013

Siti Khalijah stars in 'Best Of' - Photo: The Pond Photography / The Necessary Stage

Mention the word “entertainment” to anyone and most would immediately think of big-budget blockbusters, rock concerts, crime dramas and contortionists – basically guilty pleasures of the mind.

That was what we thought when we found out that the theme for the 2013 M1 Fringe Festival (16-27 January) was “Art and Entertainment” – an in-your-face entertainment spectacular.

Instead, organisers The Necessary Stage revealed an original line-up of works for the ninth edition of the arts festival.  The 15 works from 10 countries will question the boundaries between art and entertainment.

The art vs. theme is no new to the multi-disciplinary art festival which explored the contentious relationship between art and faith for this year.

 “We were going through a period in Singapore where people were discussing whether art and entertainment can co-exist,” said artistic director Alvin Tan. “At present, a lot of art here is very entertainment-oriented and commodified.”

“There were a lot of art pieces that employ entertainment devices and popular culture. This relationship is what a lot of artists are dealing with and we want to look at how they blur the lines between the two – how ‘art’ tips over and becomes entertainment; and vice versa. The two may be as different as chalk and cheese but both require ‘artistry’ of some kind,” Tan explained.

The works

Four of the 15 works will make their world premiere at the festival. One of them, ‘Best Of’ (24-26 Jan, 8pm; 26 & 27 Jan, 3pm; $30) is a one-woman show focusing on stage actress Siti Khalijah. This show revisits the theatre group’s first round of performances back in 1987. Created by founder Alvin Tan and resident playwright Haresh Sharma, ‘Best Of’ looks at themes such as mortality, forgiveness and loss while incorporating elements of Siti’s life and perspectives on contemporary culture and Singapore news.

‘道德Tao Te’ - Ferenc Fehér

Making its Asian premiere is ‘道德Tao Te’ (26-27 Jan, 8pm; $30) by Hungarian choreographer Ferenc Fehér. No stranger to the Fringe Festival, Fehér uses modern dance, martial arts, graphic art and humour to explore the notion of duality and features two dancers caught in a series of conflict and struggle.

“Basically we’re looking at the similarities as well as the differences between art and entertainment; how they inform each other and also look at the dichotomy between art and what is considered mainstream entertainment,” says festival manager Melissa Lim.

‘Best Of’ will challenge the notion of the solo performance – is it a piece of theatre, a stand-up comedy or a monologue—as well as the conflicting nature of art and entertainment; while’道德Tao Te’ asks what makes art “entertaining”.

Other works

the holycoaster s(HIT) circus
the holycoaster s(HIT) circus

Other works include commissioned piece, ‘C.I.N.T.A’ (16 & 17 Jan, 8pm; $30) by Teater Kami, a collection of five stories looking into the aspects of love, defining the idea of artistic, cultural and educational exchange through an entertaining piece of theatre.

The only show in the festival slapped with a R18 rating is ‘the holycoaster s(HIT) circus’ (18 & 19 Jan, 8pm; $30). According to artistic director Haresh Sharma the two-hour spectacle is “a whopper”. A collaborative effort between artists from Germany, Israel and Switzerland, the first hour features a mockumentary film before all hell breaks loose in the next hour – the show (d)evolves into a circus-slash-cabaret-slash-burlesque performance with plenty of audience interaction.

“If there’s any show in the festival that might offend audiences, this will be it,” quips Sharma.

M1 Fringe Festival 2012 will be staged from 16 – 27 Jan at Esplanade, Theatres On The Bay. Tickets from $19-30 or buy a Fringe package of any 4 shows at $90 from Sistic.

Zaki Jufri is the arts, entertainment and film editor of where he also dabbles in internet video. The former senior writer and web editor of I-S has also been published in Where Singapore, Juxtapoz Art and Culture Magazine, The Royal Magazine and Aspire Inflight Magazine.