O.P.E.N. events to whet appetite for arts festival

O.P.E.N. events to whet appetite for arts festival
New York theatre company The Wooster Group in a performance with video screenings of its past work, such as To You, The Birdie! The group is known for its collaborative approach and daring work that often straddles theatre, dance and multimedia.

Kicking off on June 26, The O.P.E.N. is a 21/2-week programme of films, talks, performances and exhibitions. It introduces ideas and artists that will be presented in August at the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

A is for the archives of The Wooster Group

The genre-bending and experimental theatre company The Wooster Group will be giving audiences here a taste of its oeuvre with video screenings of its past work - ahead of its production Cry, Trojans! (Troilus & Cressida) at the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

Mr Clay Hapaz, 53, the long-time archivist of the New York-based company, will be at The O.P.E.N. next month to discuss several of the group's iconic works that have been recorded, created and/or reconstructed on tape.

These include Rumstick Road (1977), House/Lights (1999) and To You, The Birdie! (2002).

The American ensemble came into being in 1975 with works composed and directed by the late Spalding Gray and current artistic director Elizabeth LeCompte, with founding members such as actors Willem Dafoe and Kate Valk.

It is known for its collaborative approach and daring work that often straddles theatre, dance and multimedia.

Mr Hapaz says over the telephone from New York: "The videos rarely are straight documentations of the show. There's always an element that we bring to it to lift it out of just the straight video experience which, more often than not, can be pretty deadly to watching performance.

"We attempt to infuse these presentations with the complexity and depth of experience that we hope you have when it's live."

What: Rumstick Road (July 8, 7.30pm); House/Lights (July 9, 7.30pm); To You, The Birdie! (July 10, 7.30pm); and The Emperor Jones, Today, I Must Sincerely Congratulate You and Rhyme 'Em To Death (July 12, 11am)

Where: 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road

B is for Bertolt Brecht

While the concepts introduced by German theatre legend Brecht (1898-1956) are not always easy to understand, one does see the late playwright-director's influence across a vast range of art forms.

Whenever an actor addresses the viewer directly on a TV show or film - or a theatre production is framed in such a way that one feels emotionally distant from a protagonist, yet is compelled to critically and rationally analyse a play - one is seeing hints of Brecht's influence.

He founded the Berliner Ensemble, which will stage a surreal version of Peter Pan in September.

In order to demystify this theatre icon and trace his legacy, The O.P.E.N. features a beginner's guide to Brecht, titled Bertolt Brecht In 8 Steps.

Singapore-based actresses Nora Samosir and Sharon Frese will explore various Brechtian performance techniques through an informal show-and-tell, while academic Charlene Rajendran will look at Brecht's influences on South-east Asian theatre.

When: July 2, 8pm

Where: 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road

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