This part of my blog documents my journey in The Substation Directors Lab Program. To view the posts, click here
The Directors’ Lab is an 18-month participant-designed research, development, and mentorship programme for emerging local theatre practitioners keen on researching and developing new and/or specific directing methodologies in theatre and the performing arts in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
More can be found at The Substation’s Directors’ Lab microsite
Artist Statement for the Research Proposal
One of the most distinct purposes of theatre-making lies in the creation and experience of the real, a sublime. When the body of an actor changes text, movement, sound, or space, there is transcendence; a moment in the sublime has a power that is difficult to replicate, even harder to define. What happens when this moment can be captured and replicated?
We are past the age of mechanical reproduction that Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin and John Berger have lamented. In a society, like Singapore, where technology has become a pervasive necessity for currency, connection, and experience, what Baudrillard calls the hyper-real (the real transformed by mechanical reproduction and media) has come to be accepted as the real. To deny, lament or mourn the hyper-real in this age is to reject today’s reality. Mechanical reproduction, in fact, has supported the proliferation of art.
However, the advancement of mechanical reproduction has also brought on the question, “What is the point of making theatre today?” In many Asian countries, for about ten dollars a ticket, one can learn, feel, and perhaps be moved to change in the comfort of a cinema. In Singapore, even the cheapest theatre ticket is at least more than twice the cost of a cinematic experience. One might argue, “Where is the sublime? Where is the real?” But does it really matter, especially if you don’t know the difference? Is it not better that 200 people can be moved by watching a movie every two hours, instead of a mere 200 a night by the fallible human body on stage?
This is the beginning point in my practice as a director.
I want to investigate where does theatre fit in contemporary Singapore. Why is theatre compelling? What is its value? Where does the value of creation using theatre lie and for whom?
The impact of modernity on many urban societies in Asia and South East Asia is similar to Singapore, but nevertheless each country’s theatre culture has adapted differently. How do the directors and theatre-makers in these countries respond to the changes in their socio-cultural environment to continue to create theatre that is relevant to their audience and to their society? How has this affected their approach to creating theatre? What are the most effective methods that can be put into practice to create theatre in today’s mediated world? How can these methods be applied to Singapore?
In documenting my experience online, I hope for this site to be both a record of my journey as well as an opportunity to bring out from the rehearsal room or behind the curtains the practice of a theatre-maker.
April 14, 2013
A work in progress video:
View a recording of the performance here: