Friday, May 30, 2008

My First Pay-to-View Live Performance at the Esplanade

I must declare at the onset that I am a cheapskate when it comes to paying to watch live performance. Afterall, why pay hundreds of dollars and sell away your freedom during the period to watch in a theatre. Contrast it to when I could watch a DVD and decide when to pause and play - go for my toilet break. That's ultimate control, hmm? The closest thing to watching a live performance was those free ones at the Esplanade that caught my attention when I was passing by to enjoy the air-con inside.

My Debut into Viewing Pay-to-View Live Performance

I was very privileged when my hubby invited me to watch "The Architecture of Silence", the Asia Premiere, last night at the Esplanade. Besides being the Asia Premiere, it also marked my debut to watch a pay-to-view live performance.

I was taken aback when we arrived at the Esplanade yesterday night. Most of the attendees were all dressed to the nines, some in their black-tie best. We hesitated to attend as we were in our not-so-formal office attire as we rushed from work to send our boys to their granny's place before heading down to the Esplanade. It was after sometime, standing in an obscured corner - observing what other people were wearing before we plucked up our courage to just go in.

Lo and behold, the moment we stepped into the holding area, we were greeted by cameras and videos as we walked the red carpet to enter into the main area. Though the invitation card stated that cocktail would be provided, in reality, a full dinner set was served - complete with mouth-watering desserts, red and white wine as well as fruit punch for non-alcoholic fans.

The Architecture of Silence

The show started on the dot with public announcement a few minutes before commencement and the audience were reminded that there would not be intermission for this 60-minute performance.We were ushered to our seats as I eagerly awaited the performance, entitled "The Architecture of Silence" by Edward Clug. I was indeed very honor to be in the same hall as President Nathan.

Silence marked the start with a group of black-sheathed swimmers dancing at one corner of the stage. Just when I was about to resign to fate that yes, it would be a "silent" performance and at the same time, wondering what the orchestra was doing in front of the stage, I was greeted by some classical music. It was only later at the end of the show when I read the brochure that I began to understand the story behind the performance. I must say I was awed by the simplicity of the performance that spun the multiple complexity together. Through the mosaic of orchestra music and the powerful dance movement, use of water in the performance, I could almost feel the emotions and thoughts that run through the choreographer's mind.That spurred me to read up more about the performance once I reached home.

My Research About the Show

In the performance, choreographer Edward Clug bridges the 200 year gap between seemingly two incompatible music – Mozart’s Requiem KV626, and Requiem For My Friend, by contemporary Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner (famous for his films scores for Polish director Krzystof Kieslowski) - through his monumental sweeping dance work that befits the cycle of eternal life and death.

The flock of black-sheathed swimmers is an allegory to the symbol of fish which represents an elemental manifestation of silence - not one of emptiness but of a distinctly present existence. Beginning with Mozart’s Lacrimosa and ending with Preisner’s Lacrimosa framing the rituals of baptism, purification and transcendence, Clug’s precise, complex, rich and narrative expression of motion mingles with the majestic music into an ode to life.

Concluding Thoughts

Edward Clug closed his thoughts as follows: "A requiem delivers no definite story although the music – due to its messaging contents – is very powerful. Yet at the same time, we can treat a requiem – just as any other music – as a consequence of experience. The performance The Architecture of Silence, too, has no definite story, but it certainly is a consequence of our body impulses shaping the space and the silence through music and movement."

A requiem is delivered at a person's funeral. So does it mark the end of our life? Does our soul continue to live on? Through the performance, Edward has skillfully answered these aged-old questions which are as old as our world itself. I guess he is very successfully in portraying his thoughts to allow even an art-idiot like myself to understand the performance. Our existence does not end with us passing away. It lives in the memories of the people whom we have touched - be it your parents, your loved ones and your friends. How this memories work out is manifested through your actions when you are alive.

In the same notion, I will also like to simplify the many challenges that we face in life by going to the core. Yes, they may be very complex in reality but can we like a proficient choreographer breakdown the complexities and present it to a layman so that he could also understand? In so doing, we could disperse the noises and find out what do we really want in life and how should we go about creating our destiny. I believe that is the single most important gift I could ever give to my children.

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