Steering The Narrative: ‘In The Curve Of The Wanton Sea’

By Patrick BenjaminEvents - 19 July 2013 11:44 AM | Updated 22 July 2013

Steering The Narrative: ‘In The Curve Of The Wanton Sea’

Norisham Osman from 'In The Curve of The Wanton Sea'. Photo: 7HD

With a moniker as fearsome as The Seven-Headed Dragon, this three-year-old local arts super group finally roars on stage with a multi-disciplinary performance which meditates on the unfamiliar and rarely heard narratives of Singapore’s history.

Artist Choy Ka Fai. Photo: 7HD

The art collective comprise some of Singapore art upstarts like multidisciplinary artist Rizman Putra, multi-media artist Choy Ka Fai, sound artist Zulkifle Mahmod, theatre actor Najib Soiman and playwright-director Zizi Azah.

In their debut production for Esplanade’s The Studios, ‘In The Curve Of The Wanton Sea’, the group will weave the underlying societal tensions such as longing, leaving, security and restlessness into an intriguing theatrical performance that lays asunder the selective amnesiac consciousness in our nationhood voyage through their debut production.

In this interview, group member Choy Ka Fai reveals more about their production.

What is ‘In The Curve Of The Wanton Sea’ about?

It is all about curiosity in exploring alternative narratives about Singapore.

Much of the curiosity is driven by a group of contemporary Malay artists responding to the politics of narratives in Singapore by questioning social, cultural and historical constructs.

What are some of the musical, visual and literary influences for the play?

We started our process by exploring the various Malay cultural history and theatrical forms. For example, we will be experimenting in the various Malay dance forms of asyik, joget and zapin.  Musically, it will be a blend of contemporary electronics, with adaptations from the Malay folk songs and storytelling traditions. 

From the synopsis, I gather there is something beyond storytelling apparent in the performance. Care to divulge more about the backstory behind the production?

The collective and production was conceived when some of our members were involved in my earlier work ‘Lan Fang Chronicle 2012’.  During that project, we had many interesting discussions on the cultural tensions and social issues that we were currently experiencing in Singapore.  We were interested to think about how would we talk about these ideas from a binary and reversed perspective. Being artists, it was only natural that we embarked on this project after our discussions.

Theatre actor Najib Soiman. Photo: 7HD

Folks often talk about the aesthetic aspects of theatre but how much of it is all about physicality in the production?

I think theater is always a very physical experience, and it is very much about the physicality of the spatial, audio-visual and performance aspects.  One of the advantages of being in a collective is the diverse expertise and disciplinary practices that we bring together to experiment and create without pre-conceived ideas on structures or expectations.

Within a collective, there are various strong personalities, how does the team deal with artistic differences?

 As a collective, we have had some form of experience collaborating with each other in various capacities over the past decade, but this is the first time we gather as a group. Thus we do have some form of understanding to negotiate these differences, however, if the artistic differences are so interesting, we might even present these differences as part of the performance as well. 

What else can we expect from the Seven-Headed Dragon collective in the near future?

This is the first production from our anticipated trilogy is very much based on the personal perspectives of our seven artists. The next phase of research would be about looking into the larger local Malay communities, their collective memories and stories. Hopefully, the research would be made into an installation and exhibitions for the second part of our trilogy.

The Studios Presents In The Curve Of The Wanton Sea | Date: 25-27 July. Thu-Sat 8pm; Sat 8pm| Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio | Address: 1 Esplanade Dr. | Tel: 68283777 | Tickets: $25 from Sistic