Reviewer: Selina Chong
Performance: 1 August 2017
I love the concept of Peer Pleasure. I first encountered it at the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival in 2014, and am happy it has since developed into a full-fledged festival that provides a platform for school groups to stage productions in collaboration with seasoned theatre practitioners. The theme for the 2017 edition of the festival is “The Other”, and Triple Bill explores the concept of alienation, both as a form imposed on an “other”, and as a state experienced by the self.
The first of the three performances is Nonsense. It is devised and performed by young people with Down syndrome and other intellectual differences, and it is impossible not to be moved by the courage of every single performer onstage and to silently cheer on their efforts. Nonsense is a story of people displaced by war. While the concept is pressingly topical, especially in light of increasing anti-immigration sentiments in the US and Europe, I couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable throughout the performance. There is little clarity and coherence to the show, and I found myself asking what the audience is supposed to get out of the experience.
The next two performances – The Box by St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School and How Did I Mess Up This Bad: An Analysis by Unsaid – are punchy. Each expresses a clear message: the former urges us to consider how young people struggle with issues of physical imperfection when they are inundated with images that are unrealistic, while the latter crowd-sourced stories and shows us snapshots of what it means to live with depression. Both performances deliver their respective messages indubitably. Each performance represents, for me, the power of the stage in helping audiences empathise and learn when the production is uncluttered and the message is straightforward.
As an educator, I see young people negotiating their place in the world and figuring out what they stand for on a daily basis. As an audience member, I am very heartened to see so many groups of young people care enough to come together and speak out, to leverage the spotlight and force viewers to think and wonder. To the performers in Triple Bill, thank you for reminding me that it is never foolish to hope.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
TRIPLE BILL by ArtsWok Collaborative
1 – 4 August 2017
Esplanade Recital Studio
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Selina loves the theatre and its ability to engage, enrapture, and entertain. The magic of the stage never ceases to create joy and wonder for her. The potential of the theatre to educate also dovetails with her teacher duties and she wishes more young people had time to watch a show instead of attend another tuition lesson.