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Announcing the full lineup of work at the Esplanade Annexe Studio on Tuesday, the 14th M1 Singapore Fringe Festival (M1SFF) has taken on an all new thematic concept as it moves into 2018. While the past 13 editions have used titles surrounding the concept of “Art & ___”, from next year on, M1SFF will be using themes inspired by iconic works from local artists, starting with Let’s Walk. 

Let’s Walk borrows its name from contemporary artist Amanda Heng’s 1999 work of the same name. The work was created as a response to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, where female employees were the first to be fired as companies began to undergo downsizing, forcing many to head to beauty salons and undergo plastic surgery in order to keep their jobs. Heng’s work thus focused on making a statement about Singapore’s pre-occupation with reliance on outer beauty to make one feel better, as opposed to inner strength and beauty.

Photo Credit: Peter Lind
 The work itself consisted of a series of ‘walks’ as Heng and members of the public walked backwards while holding high-heeled shoes in their mouths, guided only by handheld mirrors to navigate. The work was then repeated and brought overseas to countries as far flung as Japan, Indonesia and even European countries such as Poland, Spain and Sweden.
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Photo Credit: Dorothy Lai

Naturally, Heng’s work will once again be revisited during the festival, where various events will take place from September 2017 to May 2018, from a solo durational live performance as Heng walks from Clifford Pier to the Causeway checkpoint, workshops with students and members of the public as they walk from the Substation to Merlion Park, to the culmination and documentation of the work and responses to it in an exhibition at Objectifs. Said Heng: “Let’s Walk is also about bringing the work out from my studio into the street, where audience participation is what finally completes the process. I look forward to revisiting the work and seeing the various reactions from the world, seeing the shifts in development since it first premiered in 1999.”


Heng’s concept behind Let’s Walk is of course, multifaceted and embodies multiple themes and messages, and the works curated for the fringe are all responses or relate to an aspect of the artwork in some way. This year’s festival will consist of 13 ticketed events and 3 free events, with artists from across 7 countries, and at the launch today, were handily divided into three overarching sub-themes: “Battling Societal Influences and Pressures”, “Redefining Individuality and Identity” and Questioning Perfection and the Patriarchal Gaze”.
Said M1SFF artistic director Sean Tobin: “Even though it was first created in 1999, a time that seems very different from now, Heng’s work still manages to resonate even today, still very progressive, relevant and cutting edge. We chose this theme to bring more challenges and complexities to the fringe, and we feel the need to dispel the myth that Singapore’s art scene is still very young, safe and clean, and with Amanda’s work, create a reflection on our own arts heritage as these young artists respond to it with their own pieces.”
In past editions, the Fringe has brought a slew of exciting new work from some of our most prominent local artists. One piece we’re especially looking forward to next year is 2017 Life! Theatre Award Winner Edith Podesta’s The Immortal Sole, a dance/physical theatre reimagining of Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of The Little Mermaid that will examine the concepts of beauty, inequality, and the perceptions of traditional women’s roles, or what one must give up (such as one’s own tail, in the classic fairy tale) in order to achieve in a man’s world.

Other local artists participating include Pink Gajah Theatre with Hayat, where Sharda Harrison will be performing an original piece with her mother Ajuntha Anwari (who we loved in her solo performance I AM at SilverArts), Rei Poh with Attempts: Singapore, a participatory, immersive theatre piece utilizing video game theory based on Martin Crimp’s Attempts On Her Life, Jo Tan with her first full length play Forked, attempting to discover  the ‘true Singaporean voice’, and Petrina Kow’s Walking In Beauty, an intimate piece featuring prominent female personalities and artists such as Anita Kapoor and Oniatta Effendi as they share deeply personal stories of womanhood and what it means to be beautiful. ‘Fresh Fringe’, featuring young artists Kenneth Chia and Mitchell Fang, as well as The Nervous System, will also be making a return this year with new works that represent the voice of a new generation of theatremakers.

Said Tobin: “When curating the festival, we wanted a balance of both local and international artists involved, and wanted works that were stylistically and aesthetically edgy. The works here represent a range for our audiences, with something available for both people who are here for the first time, or people who want things that are really out there.”

Ultimately though, the Fringe is all about presenting humanitarian works that showcase the very intensity of life. Said Tobin: “There’s something about playful works like these that’s very refreshing and show that you can still be creative and do a lot with very little. For Singaporeans, the arts remains of of the best ways to engage in healthy, hearty democratic dialogue, and we hope that these works open up that space for discussion.”

So what’re you waiting for? As the Fringe enters a bold new season in 2018, grab your most comfortable pair of shoes and let’s walk. Tickets are expected to be snapped up quickly, so be sure to book early, and grab them while you still can!

M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2018 takes place from 17th – 28th January 2018. Book your tickets now via SISTIC and for more information, check out the website here

In 2019, the M1SFF will take on Suzann Victor’s Still Waters as its theme from 17th – 29th January 2019. Interested applicants can read more about it on the Fringe website here and apply for the open call until 2nd March 2018. 

Look out for our upcoming look at each show in our three part preview of the entire festival soon!


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