Saturday, 7 November 2015

Day 8: Singapore Writers Festival

Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore. During the Singapore Writers Festival, (SWF) which is on now, and runs through until November 8, daily posts will offer a flavour of events in the Lion City.

So: Day 8...

In an exciting development both for SWF, and for night owls, last night saw Checkpoint Theatre present an all-night party of words and ideas. What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem featured 24 new and specially commissioned pieces from Singapore - drama, poetry, songs, and prose - over 12 hours, from dusk, until dawn this morning, with supper and breakfast thrown in. There were also musical performances and visual arts exhibitions – even a cookery demonstration from Brendon Fernandez, who performed a monologue about different attitudes towards Christmas food. 

What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem was curated by playwright, and co-founder and Joint Artistic Director of Checkpoint Theatre, Huzir Sulaiman. Before the event, he granted me a quick Q & A.

What I Love About You Is Your attitude Problem is a great idea, where did it come from?
Checkpoint Theatre was asked to propose an overnight event to complement the traditional Singapore Writers Festival programming. Building on Checkpoint Theatre's focus on developing and producing original Singapore writing, I was very interested in the idea of commissioning 24 new texts in performance: the words lifted off the page, interacting with live audiences. This allowed me to explore artists who work across different art forms and to curate a wide variety of events: play readings, monologues, poetry, songs, performance art, visual art, film, electronica, hip-hop, lectures, drag's an excitingly diverse line-up.

How did you co-ordinate so many different performers?
I wanted artists who were interested in doing something different, or in pushing their existing artistic practice to a new direction. So I had a wonderful series of conversations with a mixture of some artists I'd worked with before; some artists I'd always wanted to work with; and some artists who were strongly recommended by other artists. The Checkpoint Theatre team all pitched in with ideas and I wound up with a great list of people to talk to. I was really happy to see how this quite diverse group of practitioners were all uniformly excited by the idea of doing something different for What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem. There is a real sense of contributing to an intense, exciting, marathon event that will bring out the best in new material.

What are you personally most looking forward to about the evening, and why?
Because each of the events arose after an individual conversation with the artist, I can honestly say that I am equally excited about all of them. With the play readings and monologues, there's a solid bedrock of the development and performance of new Singapore writing, which is the cornerstone of Checkpoint Theatre's work. But there's also some really cool and innovative new stuff, including:
·         The electronica duo .gif are doing a lyric writing workshop early in the night, and they'll be incorporating that material into their set later in the night, which will allow audience members to jam along with them by placing instruments among the crowd;
·         Dr. Farish Noor is giving a 2am lecture on the fluidity of gender identity in classical Malay texts;
·         There'll be a 12-hour live reading of the entirety of Meira Chand's novel A Different Sky, while acclaimed artist Jimmy Ong makes work at the same time.
Actually that's just the tip of the iceberg; I really am super excited about everything!