Arts Preview Theatre

Preview: The Studios 2022 – Nervous System by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Change is coming to the Esplanade, and before that happens, the the final season of The Studios in its current format will be taking its last bow. Themed Nervous System, The Studios 2022 is a product of reflecting on the past, as it examines how it relates to the strange “new” world we find ourselves in. Perhaps it is similar to how our nervous systems respond to externalities by exchanging information, enabling each organ to perform its function, society is a network of inextricably linked individuals who work together.

When it reaches overload however, that’s when system overloads occur, forced into finding coping mechanisms instead of solutions that require constant, concerted effort: care for oneself and more importantly, care for one other. Theatre then becomes the answer – a form of collective care that, through a communal experience, serves as an entry point for conversations about family, love, mental health, grief, ageing, care and healing.

Known for her works inspired by mythology and centering on femininity, Edith Podesta opens this season of The Studios with her new show Inconsequential Goddess. The play imagines an unnamed woman wants to be a goddess of no consequence. Daughter of the mythical Arachne, she chooses anonymity so that neither her actions nor her power will bring harm to the world around her. But even as shame forces her to shrink into her own oblivion, she discovers that everything in this world, including her own body, is a shrine and sacred, despite the inconsequentiality that her society imposes on it. Mapping the myths of Greek goddesses onto the bodies of women we encounter every day, Inconsequential Goddess is a performance poem that explores the cyclical nature of trauma and the ways these cycles are both broken and perpetuated over multiple generations and worlds.

In addition, Inconsequential Goddess will be accompanied by workshop Weaving Stories, Storied Weavings. Playing on the central motif of weaving, participants are invited to partake in this age-old practice with both Edith and textile artist Natalia Tan and to share their stories through the art of weaving.

In August, The Necessary Stage brings Acting Mad to The Studios. First performed in 2019 at the Necessary Stage Black Box as a work-in-progress, Acting Mad examines mental health in the theatre industry and the difficulty of coming out and seeking help. A verbatim play based on interviews with 20 actors who have experienced or are going through mental health issues, this version will incorporate new interview texts and testimonies, as well actors’ responses to the pandemic and its impact on them. Can sharing our stories and creating theatre be a form of solace and support? In conjunction with Acting Mad, playwright Haresh Sharma will also be presenting a workshop on writing verbatim theatre on 27th August.

In September, Teater Ekamatra will finally be debuting the Malay version of Poop!. Originally written by Chong Tze Chien and produced by The Finger Players, Poop! follows in the wake of a father’s suicide, as it examines grief experienced by his wife, his young daughter, and his mother. Adapted by Zulfadli Rashid and directed by Mohd Fared Jainal, watch as dark comedy and whimsical drama collide in this uniquely heart-wrenching take on mortality. Berak will also feature a panel discussion on Performing Grief featuring director Mohd Fared Jainal, Poop! original playwright Chong Tze Chien, and healthcare professional Jolene Chiang.

Finally, The Studios 2022 closes the season with Checkpoint Theatre’s Recalling Mother: Her Lines, My Lines in September. Exploring the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, Recalling Mother: Her Lines, My Lines has been touted as immensely moving and funny in previous editions, which have played to global audiences in Singapore, New York, Brisbane and Adelaide since it began its journey in 2006. Now, in 2022, the conversations evolve further, with changing times, bodies, and relationships creating new bonds and stories, as acclaimed theatremakers and friends Claire Wong and Noorlinah Mohamed open an intimate, safe space for all to listen to their stories and recall mother in their own way. Join both Claire and Noorlinah as well in an additional conversation about listening and conversation in In Conversation: And So The Conversations Continue….

Following Nervous System, the Esplanade is finally set to open the Singtel Waterfront Theatre later this year, and will give The Studios the opportunity and space to evolve in a new form from 2023. For now, come down and enjoy these established theatremakers as they create, revisit and explore these intimate pieces, and find space to heal your mind and soul, as The Studios returns this year.

The Studios 2022 – Nervous System runs from 24th July to 18th September 2022 at The Esplanade. Tickets and full lineup available here

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