Recalling Mother and HOTEL take the stage at OzAsia Festival

Published on 17 September 2017

Recalling Mother by Checkpoint Theatre - Noorlinah Mohamed (L) and Claire Wong (R). Photo Courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre (Photo Credit - Joel Lim at Calibre Pictures & Ideas)

An impressive Singapore cultural presence descends upon Adelaide this month, with featured works cutting across forms from theatre, dance and music to film and contemporary art.

By PAMELA HO

Checkpoint Theatre’s Recalling Mother was first staged in 2006, featuring Claire Wong and Noorlinah Mohamed in an honest, heartfelt conversation about their ageing mothers. Delivered in English, Malay and Cantonese, and through physical acting, the narrative captures the funny, frustrating and intimate moments between mothers and daughters.

The play has been restaged several times in the span of 11 years, and has evolved alongside the evolving relationship and circumstances faced by these women. “Both our mums have become significantly frailer, and Noorlinah’s mum and Noorlinah now have to cope with dementia. We ourselves have also become older. These changed circumstances have a significant and major impact on the work,” reflects Wong, also Joint Artistic Director of Checkpoint Theatre.

“Perhaps we may compare the work to fine wine – as it ages, it gains other tones and nuances,” she adds. “It was thoroughly enjoyable as a younger wine and is still familiar but over time, it becomes something quite different and there are other shades and notes; gifts of the maturing process.”

Recalling Mother, which was presented at the Brisbane Festival last year, returns to charm Australian audiences in Adelaide this year at OzAsia Festival, Australia’s premier international arts festival focusing on Asia. Under festival director Joseph Mitchell, the annual programme features the finest theatre, dance, music, film and visual arts Asia has to offer.

2009 staging of Recalling Mother. (Photo: Courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre. Photo Credit: Memphis West Pictures)

On what she hopes Australian audiences will take away from the experience, Noorlinah says, “Previously, after each performance – whether in Singapore or elsewhere – some audiences leave the theatre with a desire to call their mothers. Well, let us know if the work has the same effect! But honestly, I leave the Adelaide audience to decide. We’d be delighted to hear their feedback, thoughts and responses to the work.”

Held from 21 September to 8 October and presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre, the OzAsia Festival brings together over 300 professional artists from across Asia and Australia, alongside more than 400 local community artists.

Singapore 1915, a scene from HOTEL by W!LD RICE (Photo Courtesy of W!LD RICE)
A tragic love story unfolds in HOTEL, set in Singapore 1945 (Photo Courtesy of W!LD RICE)
Combining traditional and classical training with modern elements, SA (仨) creates their own soundscapes and sonic-musical identity. (Photo Credit - Jeremy Lee)

The Singapore programmes – co-produced by CultureLink, with support from the National Arts Council – include a headline performance of HOTEL by W!LD RICE (where 100 years of Singapore’s history unfolds in one luxurious hotel), Dance Lab with Christina Chan and Ricky Sim, as well as the Australian premieres of SA 仨 and After Utopia by the Singapore Art Museum.

Pop Aye, an award-winning film by Singaporean filmmaker Kirsten Tan will be screened at OzAsia Festival 2017, as part of the Singapore Now film series (Photo courtesy of Giraffe Pictures Pte Ltd)

In addition, Aussie audiences will be treated to a special showcase of Singapore films through the Singapore Now film series. Award-winning works such as Pop Aye by Kirsten Tan, Apprentice by Boo Junfeng, and A Yellow Bird by K Rajagopal will grace the big screens at the festival.

This colourful palette of Singapore works not only represents the complexities of Singapore’s unique multiculturalism, it also showcases the diversity of our artistic talents (both emerging and veteran) to the Australian arts scene. Approximately 150,000 people are expected to attend over the 18 days.

OzAsia Festival runs from 21 September to 8 October. For details, click here.

Brisbane Bound!

Charlie Lim (Photo - Aimee Han)
Edith Podesta presents Bitch The Origin of the Female Species at Brisbane Festival 2017 (Photo - Crispian Chan)

Over in the Australian state of Queensland, the Brisbane Festival (helmed by theatre director David Berthold) presents over 60 events – including five world premiere commissions, 11 Australian premieres, 25 Queensland premieres, and a string of work from the Asia Pacific – over a three-week period, in a city-wide celebration.

Representing Singapore at the festival are singer-songwriter Charlie Lim and conductor Darrell Ang leading the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, as well as Edith Podesta with the Australian premiere of Bitch: The Origin of the Female Species (20 to 23 Sep), and Hatch Theatrics with the Australian premiere of HAWA (27 to 30 Sep).

The Brisbane Festival runs from 9 to 30 September. Find out more here.

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