SIFA: Disabled Theater.

20050585 It was a wonderful start to the season of the Singapore International Festival of Arts for me as I caught my first show as part of the festival last night.

With performers from the Swiss company Theater HORA and directed by French Choreographer Jérôme Bel, the hour and a half long performance was a simple and powerful one.

Questions were raised and heartstrings were tugged as the actors were asked to perform tasks such as introduce themselves, name their disabilities and perform personal solo dances which they each choreographed on their own.

The stage was as bare as it can get – just eleven chairs placed in a row with water bottles and the interpreter on stage left.  But the performers managed to fill the whole space with their energy, their words and their presence.

How many performers can actually do that? And not hide behind sets and lights and sounds and costume?

Well, I really do not know.

My favourite part of it all was definitely the start of the piece when the performers had to enter the stage one by one and just look at the audience for a minute. Some stood right in the centre, as close to the seats as possible and scanned the audience from left to right while some did not make eye contact at all or stopped once they feel the stage lights so they may walk back to the curtains as fast as possible.

I thought it showed them as they are – in what they wear, the way they walked, the way they wanted to connect with the audience or not.

It was so vulnerable and honest.

For someone to be able to stand on stage as they are, in front of hundreds of people, and with no ability to stop people from judging or assuming or studying them, it was pure discipline and strength I think. As a performer, personally, I always felt it to be difficult to bare my soul on stage and share a personal part of life so I really admire every single one of them to be able to do that.

Just stand, look and walk away. Just as they are.

And when they were asked to name their disability, I must say that it broke my heart when one lady said, “I have Down Syndrome, and I am sorry.”

They have talents and skills and they are people like us. They are no lesser or any different from anybody that is living and breathing. I was really overwhelmed by sadness when an individual actually said sorry for being herself even though she had no choice in the matter.

Why did she feel like she had to apologise?

She went back to her seat after and looked so upset.

But afterwards, she did a fantastic dance and so did everybody else. And their smiles lighted up the whole stage as the applause rang out because there is appreciation for what they do. People see them for what they can do and for once, not what they cannot do.

It was positivity all around and it was the best thing I can ever see with my own eyes.

All I can really say is that it showed possibilities, innocence, freedom and happiness. It was the bare essence of what theatre can do, will do and should do. It was a wonderful performance that I really loved and I would have wanted to spend more time with these people in the theatre to get to know them better and be able to see more aspects of their personality.

I am very thankful that I managed to catch this performance and to experience so many emotions and beautiful things in one night. It was a privilege.

It was a wonderful experience, and if I get the chance to catch it once again in the near future, I am pretty sure I will choose to enjoy it all over again once more.

It was truly indescribable.


One thought on “SIFA: Disabled Theater.

  1. Pingback: Festival Heart: Into The Wild. | Corner of My Mind.

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