M1 Singapore Fringe explores art and the animal

Art & The Animal is the theme of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival

The animal is the subject of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival next year, from a visual art and sound installation that will play a recording of 50,000 bees to an etymological interrogation of the word "b***h".

Themed Art & The Animal, the festival, now in its 12th year, will be held between Jan 13 and 24. Tickets are now on sale at Sistic.

The festival, which announces its line-up at a media preview on Wednesday, explores the relationship between humans and animals, and their struggle to co-exist in harmony.

Audiences can expect 19 events from 12 countries, ranging from plays to dance performances to art exhibitions.

These will take place at venues including the Esplanade, the National Museum of Singapore and Ion Orchard shopping mall.

The festival will be led by its artistic director Sean Tobin, 43, who is also the School of the Arts' head of theatre.

This is his second year at the helm, since he took over the festival's reins from director Alvin Tan, playwright Haresh Sharma and general manager Melissa Lim, of The Necessary Stage.

"I wanted the theme not only to have a relevant conversation with art, but also to remind everyone that it is about wildness, instinct, liberty and impulse," he tells Life.

To open the festival, a Malay fable about a mousedeer's jungle adventures will be deconstructed and retold through Malay poetry in The Chronicles Of One And Zero: Kancil. It is written by playwright Zulfadli Rashid and directed by Rizman Putra.

One festival highlight is the Asian premiere of Human Bestiary, a play by Mexico-based theatre troupe Principio..., about how humans have harmed the environment. It will feature beatboxing, video projections and a live DJ set.

Another work on the intersection of art and the environment is Railtrack Songmaps by the Migrant Ecologies Project, conceptualised by visual artist Lucy Davis. It is a multimedia sound and visual art project exploring the interaction between humans and birds.

Other events to watch out for include The Shape Of A Bird, a play by Singapore playwright Jean Tay, as well as B*tch: The Origin Of The Female Species, where theatre veteran Edith Podesta questions fundamental qualities of the human, in relation to the canine.

Local actress Sharda Harrison will debut Bi (Cara), a work that studies human-animal relationships that was inspired by a talk by her father, Mr Bernard Harrison, former chief executive of the Singapore Zoological Gardens.

"As a physical performer, most of my vocabulary comes from the animal," she says. "This work is my submergence into the physicality of a few animals through research from articles, essays and interviews on wildlife and conservation."

All three productions, along with several others in this year's festival, were developed with support from Centre 42, which documents, creates and promotes writing for the theatre.

Says Mr Tobin: "At the Fringe, we are really excited to find ways to develop and highlight local artists, emerging artists and practices."

• Tickets at $22 available from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg). For details, go to www.singaporefringe.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Exploring human-animal ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe