The Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Twelfth Night, Ciudades Paralelas, Singapore Arts Festival 2012
Some questions raised after tonight’s viewing of Lola Arias‘ Ciudades Paralelas (Parallel Cities) Hotel – Hotel Maids installation made me think about the consumption of the arts and the motives for such feeding.
The Singapore Repertory Theatre‘s production of Twelfth Night, in its somewhat annual line-up of outdoor plays, was delightful. Except for one or two rather painful fake accents from minor characters, the comedy was well-suited for the convivial atmosphere of picnicking at Fort Canning (even under a light drizzle).
The motive for attending a Shakespeare In The Park-type play then would definitely be partly social. It’s not the sort of thing you’d lug a picnic basket to by your lonesome.
What’s attractive about the offerings at Singapore Arts Festival 2012 is what seems to be a palpable eagerness to engage the general public at eye-level with loads of free and intriguing activities in and around the Festival Village:
the Bridge Cafe is at a lovely spot by the Singapore River. The rooftop seats offer a wonderful view of Marina Bay while nursing a cold beer or a Coldstone Creamery Waffle Cup. At night, dancing oyajis and youths come out
to dance while serving you your Tully Coffee beverage or Coldstone Creamery ice-cream as part of the Bridge Café Project,
(no dancing at the Festival Bar though)
the roving horse or “centaur” of Théâtre du Centaure’s Flux,
Polygot Theatre’s Tangle visual art installation etc. Much accessible fun. And the ticketed items aren’t the usual pretentious attention-seeking stuff made by people who complain that their creativity has been stifled by the oppressive regime of the Singapore government (which suggests that they must not have been creative enough then!), nor do they seem to be the sort of half-baked stuff one feels obliged to take a bite of merely to “support local art”. A plus is the easily-navigated Singapore Arts Fest website that details the activities available on each day.
At Lola Arias‘ Ciudades Paralelas (Parallel Cities) Hotel – Hotel Maids installation at Hotel ibis Singapore Novena, only one person was admitted at each time, in 10 minute intervals. The hour went by quite quickly. Though the experiential theatre platform of hotel rooms used minimal props, the varied and effective methods of telling the stories of hotel maids from different countries caused the observer/intruder to feel such a connection with representatives of a group commonly ignored that i almost hugged “Max” when he appeared at the door of the last room to take me on a tour of the unseen portions of the hotel.
And the writing for Platform Campus – Circle Line (edited/mentored by Chong Tze Chien, Ben Slater, and Kaylene Tan) wasn’t too shabby either. It did get me away from my “Apple device” to observe each of my fellow passengers on the Circle Line train and consider their human-ness, their stories, their hopes and dreams, their disappointments and regrets. Somewhat like the angel of Wim Wender‘s Wings of Desire, standing far above the crowd and listening to the thought murmurs of the human inhabitants of Berlin (though in this case, only able to wonder at stories and in any event, unable to comfort anyone). A good way, perhaps, to address the current climate of xenophobia and lack of graciousness, and force the heart to understand what the mind already knows from Scripture: that each human life must not be taken lightly, and therefore the horror of murder (either in word or deed).
It is in this proper use of the opportunity/skills to stir emotions and the fire up the mind, i think, that the arts can make a useful contribution both for the good of society and the humanity of the individual.