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Preview: Patch! A (Live) Theatre Festival of Play 2021 by The Theatre Practice

Screenshot 2021-02-18 at 3.35.30 PM

With its most recent edition in 2020 wrapping up just last August, The Theatre Practice’s Patch! A (Live) Theatre Festival of Play is already back to entertain you from the comfort of home this March and April. Now in its 4th edition, Patch! brings together artists and audiences who love the often messy, sometimes raw, but always powerfully resonant nature of live theatre. Reimagined as an international hybrid on/off-line festival, Patch! continues to champion the essentiality of play through a diverse range of original digital productions, intimate live experiences and innovative hybrid works.

“As champions of play, Patch! has always challenged assumptions and pushed boundaries.”

As more people seek comfort in the arts and entertainment, theatre’s timeless power to entertain, nourish and heal has never been more apparent. In 2021, the power of the arts is amplified. As we struggle to navigate a changed world, theatre and play can equip us with the critical thinking, empathy and ingenuity required to find a new way forward.

“As champions of play, Patch! has always challenged assumptions and pushed boundaries,” observes Artistic Director Kuo Jian Hong. “This attitude is especially important as we begin to rebuild our world. What have we never questioned before? Do existing structures still work? Can we find new answers?”

As artists, this translates as a reimagining of not just what we create, but how we create. What happens when art-making is no longer restricted by physical space, geographical location or theatrical format? Can we find solutions by collaborating with experts from vastly different fields? Can we extend access to an even wider group of audiences? Grounded in the potent power of storytelling, Patch! 2021 offers artists and audiences opportunities to reflect and rethink with programmes that offer alternative perspectives.

“Change is constant, and theatre has always evolved in response to the world around us.”

The digital medium can offer a storytelling environment as powerful, intimate and engaging as a black box or proscenium stage. As one of the first theatre companies to embrace digital theatre, Practice pushed the limits of artistic creativity and technological capabilities with ambitious projects like Patch! 2020 and Practice 55. Patch! 2021 continues this year-long exploration, and considers how technology can enhance the live experience. Instead of seeing digital theatre as a temporary solution, Practice has embraced the hybrid digital-live format as a new adventure.

“Change is constant, and theatre has always evolved in response to the world around us,” says Kuo. “In creating this hybrid, we are taking our past experiences and learning, and transforming it into something new. It is a PATCHwork, not a bandaid.”

Going beyond traditional theatre spaces, the festival opens up space for vastly different storytelling formats and challenges our assumptions of what a theatre festival can look like. At the same time, the key tenets of live theatre remain very present in the festival. “Regardless of medium, liveness and connection remains central to our work. As we experiment, we are conscious of preserving the spontaneous, live and present nature of interactions that are so characteristic of live theatre,” Kuo explains.

A total of ten works have been programmed for this year’s edition of the festival, starting with not one, but two editions of their family-friendly Kaya & Roti series. Following on from Where Are Our Friends?, the beloved trio of Kopi, Roti and Guyou are here with an innovative at-home camping experience, as they get audiences to families to play, learn and rediscover their homes with Welcome to Camp Breakfast!Where Are Our Friends? will also receive an updated 2021 edition, with three new stories the trio will be sharing with you.

Meanwhile, Australian theatre-maker Samara Hersch’s critically-acclaimed project Body of Knowledge (at Home) makes its Singapore debut after a successful international tour. Powerful, intimate and thought-provoking, the work explores the unsaid through honest conversations between teenagers and adult audience members, as facilitated through a phone line, in this social engagement performance exploring the unsaid and unexplored through intergenerational dialogue and knowledge exchange.

“And with Dance doyenne and cultural medallion recipient Goh Lay Kuan makes a rare return to the dancefloor as she explores the relationship between ballet, health and aging bodies.”

The returning Play With… series features brand new encounters with Singaporean art-makers and craftsmen through storytelling and interactive elements. After 2020 saw us play with fashion, cocktails and politically-charged board games, this year’s edition will see brand new programmes lined up. Dance doyenne and cultural medallion recipient Goh Lay Kuan makes a rare return to the dancefloor as she explores the relationship between ballet, health and aging bodies. Meanwhile, Chef Imran Kidd (Big Bern’s American Grill, Mint & Coco (Oman)) demystifies fine dining and explores our ability to taste and smell, through the deconstruction and reconstruction of flavours.

In new series It’s Not About The Numbers, discover intimate connection through bite-sized adventures and surprising encounters with these live in-person works for single or small audiences, with original works by Singaporean artists Adi Jamaludin and Zoea Tania.

Other programmes include lunch party Recess Time, which TTP will host at their home on 58 Waterloo Street on select Fridays, as Makan Masters put their creative expressions on a plate, while foodies gather over a delicious, yet affordable meal. The experimental Playwrights’ Bootcamp also makes a return, as three Chinese-language playwrights produce a new script in 48 hours, whereupon the final works are given to three directors to bring to life online.

It is in times like these that more than ever, we need the element of play to come back into our lives once again, as we stretch our minds and imaginations to grapple with the reality of today, or quite simply, find an outlet to relax ourselves and chase away the stress and anxiety, as TTP’s programmes both new and refreshed arrive in Patch! 2021.

Patch! A (Live) Theatre Festival of Play runs from March to April 2021 both online and at The Theatre Practice. Tickets and more information available here

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