One of the highlights of the upcoming Singapore Writer’s Festival (SWF) 2015 is the 12 hour performance entitled What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem curated by Huzir Sulaiman. Huzir is the co-founder and Joint Artistic Director of a fantastic local theatre house – Checkpoint Threatre. So, for 12 hours (7pm – 7am) rather than sleeping like a normal person, enjoy new and specially commissioned works of Singapore drama, poetry, songwriting and prose, alongside musical performances and visual arts exhibitions. It promises to illuminate the journey of the self, and all its challenges and pleasures. Happiness, desire, adventure, the comforts of friendship and the complexity of family – this is what long nights were made for. We had a fantastic opportunity to have a little discussion with Huzir on the inspiration behind this seemingly crazy performance!
For 12 hours, What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem promises to guide you into the beautiful world of local theatre and literature with a grand total of 24 different text based performances! At first glance, the eye catching aspect is obviously the scale and ambition of the entire thing, so obviously I was curious as to how such an idea came about. It all started with a simple set of instructions, “Checkpoint Theatre was asked to propose an overnight event to complement the traditional Singapore Writers Festival programming.” From there, Huzir used it as a medium to explore something that not only was he very interested in but also something incredibly unique. “Texts in performance: the words lifted off the page, interacting with live audiences. This allowed me to explore artists who work across different art forms and to curate a wonderful variety of events: play readings, monologues, songs, performance art, visual art, film, electronica, hip-hop, lectures, drag performance… it’s a very exciting line-up!”
What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem comprises some of Singapore’s best talents and some very familiar names. From actress Claire Wong to playwrights Faith Ng & Joel Tan and even authors & poets such as Cyril Wong & Pooja Nansi to musicians as .gif. Finally, even the owner of BooksActually, Kenny Leck will be a part of it. The entire ensemble was gathered because Huzir “wanted artists who were interested in doing something different, or in pushing their existing artistic practice to a new direction.” How it all started was through a series of conversations. “Conversations with a mixture of some artists I’d worked with before,” conversations with “some artists I’d always wanted to work with” and finally conversations with “some artists who were strongly recommended by other artists.” The diversity of the performers and participants is a sure guarantee that despite the length of the performance, it’ll be neither repetitive nor dull. For them, “there is a real sense of contributing to an intense, exciting, marathon event that will bring out the best in new material.”
Just as an omnibus film is made up of different short films that come together to tell a single story, this upcoming 12 hour marathon has an underlying theme. For Huzir, “it’s about the journey of the self: our struggles and triumphs as individual personalities and psychologies.” This year, with all the SG50 hurrah and celebrations of our own country as a whole, a more macro lookback, the goal here is “to look at the interior world, in our hearts and souls. So there’s the idea of friendship, and family, and love and hope. It’s about the intimacy, anxiety, and calm of a long night. It’s about moving towards assurance and joy, and the promise of each new day.” It’s really what makes literature beautiful, a unbiased look at the human condition and all that it is.
One of the question that I posed to Huzir was which of the 24 performances he was most looking forward to. While he was obviously excited for all, he was also game enough to give us a couple of suggestions on some of the “really cool and innovative new stuff.” They include:
– the electronica duo .gif are doing a lyric writing workshop early in the night, and they’ll be incorporating that material into their set later in the night, which will allow audience members to jam along with them by placing instruments among the crowd;
– Dr. Farish Noor is giving a 2am lecture on the fluidity of gender identity in classical Malay texts;
– there’ll be a 12-hour live reading of the entirety of Meira Chand’s novel A Different Sky, while acclaimed artist Jimmy Ong makes work at the same time;
– (actually that’s just the tip of the iceberg; I really am super excited about everything!)
The dedication and passion of the entire cast is such that “they will be switching to a nocturnal schedule for a couple days in advance so that we are acclimatised to the new timezone!” Beyond this little cool nugget of information, know also that “here’s a huge amount of technical and production preparation, and all of the artists are separately rehearsing really hard. In the 4 days leading up the actual show, they’ll be rehearsing their work in the space.”