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Preview: The Remembering Resource (II) by Grain Performance and Research Lab

Photo credits (A Memory Search, 1993): Koh Nguang How/Ho Keen Fi

More than 25 years ago, Ang Gey Pin, a veteran theatre director and actress, together with the other members of the now-defunct Theatre OX (1995-2007), journeyed to live in an abandoned zen centre in Pulau Ubin for rigorous work on the craft of performance. As one of the first ensemble-based theatre groups in Singapore, the group was known for its evocative performances, which incorporated local folk arts, and traditional forms fused with Western theatrical approaches. Audience members commuted from mainland Singapore to Pulau Ubin to watch their performance War Valley Tiger Dream in 1996.

Twenty-five years later, theatre practitioner Ranice Tay, who was in her early 20s, chanced upon boxes in a corner of Ang’s house. Inside, they unravelled thousands of materials relating to the practice of Theatre OX. These include photographs, slides, video tapes, cassettes, posters, documents and even training journals that had been left aside for years. The pair started to enquire and rediscover the relevance of Theatre OX’s training for the theatre and artists of today.

The discovery led to The Remembering Resource (II), a series of live encounters on culture, craft, and creativity, based on the works of Theatre OX led by Artistic Director Ang. The series of creative encounters at The Arts House and online platforms from 18th June to 3rd July 2021 includes an exhibition, performances, work demo and intergenerational dialogue sessions.

“Everything seems to be increasingly anglo-centric in attitudes today, even in myself. I’ve been asking: Can we reintroduce a kind of theatre that is contemporary but still pays homage to the very roots we come from?”

– Ranice Tay

During the Circuit Breaker last year, The Remembering Resource launched its first iteration with an online archive and six-hour dialogue session with the arts community, both in Singapore and abroad. This second iteration, The Remembering Resource (II), is presented by Grain Performance & Research Lab (Grain PR Lab) led by Artistic Director Beverly Yuen who co-produced it with Tay.

Ang Gey Pin (above) & Ranice Tay (below), the creators & performers of That Day That Book That Fell. Photo credit: Megan Chia

Yuen was a core member of Theatre OX in the 1990s, and she found it meaningful to reintroduce the works of Theatre OX and its relevance to the arts community as an in-venue event. However, to adhere to the latest COVID-19 Safe Management Measures for the Arts and Culture sector, the performance That Day That Book That Fell will be offered online.

Photo credit: Sherman Ong (War Valley Tiger Dream 1996)

The programme’s highlights include the exhibition Remnants Relived, which runs at The Arts House from 18th to 20th June. Curated by Tan Pei Hwee, the exhibition is a peek into the multifaceted activities of Theatre OX – its history, performances, expeditions, and performer training – practices through the late 1990s and early 2000s that have enriched our understanding of the actor’s craft. This exhibition collects a never-before seen physical collection of photographs, soundbites, performance screenings, documents and more.

Photo credits: Koh Nguang How & Ho Keen Fi (A Memory Search, 1993)

On 19th June, settle down for A Road Less Travelled, a panel discussion with speakers T. Sasitharan, Alvin Chiam, Nelson Chia and Sabrina Sng to investigate what lies at the heart of theatremaking and actor training. The programme also looks at the post-OX works of Grain PR Lab and Sourcing Within (founded by Ang) to explore the artistic evolution from past to present.

In Re-crafting Ancient Texts for OX’s Performers, arts practitioner Neo Hai Bin and Dr Lee Chee Keng, one of the core members of Theatre OX, sit down for a dialogue, as they discuss the ancient texts and mythologies used in Theatre OX, as well as how these texts were adapted dramaturgically for the performances.

In Theatre OX: Elements of Training, Ang Gey Pin guides seven young theatre practitioners in Theatre OX’s unique training methodology in a process of overcoming the self and connecting to deeper impulses. The work demo is a sharing and bridging of performer training and craft, including the oxen’s research on various bodymind disciplines and training, and individual work based on memories and associations.

Photo Credit: Megan Chia

In That Day That Book That Fell, Ranice Tay and Ang Gey Pin star in this performance, featuring the two performers in an empty room. In the imagination of the shrine, the two leap through unseen gates, at each turn meeting a layer of themselves, and moving closer and closer into a yearning akin to dreams. Due to the new safe management measures, the piece no longer features live singing onstage, and is available as video on demand online from 2nd to 3rd July.

In From OX to Grain: Traditions & Contemporary Theatre, Dr Beverly Yuen, artistic director of Grain Performance & Research Lab, shares about her work Mandala, her journey as a theatre practitioner, and her approach to theatre. A video of Mandala (2003) will be shown during the sharing. Beverly was one of the core members of Theatre OX (led by Dr Ang Gey Pin), and underwent full-time performer training from 1995 to 1999. In 1998, together with 3 other core members, she headed to the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards (Italy) and received intensive performer training for a year.

“Through this project, memories are remembered, recreated and transformed. Never have I experienced that remembering can be so resourceful, and it can activate a whole range of human potentials and connections.”

– Ang Gey Pin, creative director of the exhibition.

The Remembering Resource (II) runs at The Arts House and online from 18th June to 3rd July 2021. Registration is required for all events, more information available here

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