Henderson Industrial Park to become performance venue for three nights

Using the space normally used for rehearsals, Dream Academy has transformed it into a venue for play and party, where film screenings, music performances and art exhibitions can be held. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Using the space normally used for rehearsals, Dream Academy has transformed it into a venue for play and party, where film screenings, music performances and art exhibitions can be held. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

For three nights, a nondescript 200 sq m space in Henderson Industrial Park will be turned into arts central.

Theatre production company Dream Academy, whose headquarters are in the cluster of buildings in Henderson Road, will open its studio space typically used for rehearsals for two projects.

Named The Henderson Project, the initiative, which is in its second year, will feature elements contrary to Dream Academy's productions of musical revues and satirical stand-up shows.

Company founder Selena Tan says: "We have been doing a lot of comedies and musicals in regular theatre spaces. We wanted to do something different and multi-disciplinary. With this space, we have a platform to do anything from film screenings to poetry showcases."

Tonight and tomorrow, Depeche Mode fans will be treated to a smorgasbord of all things to do with the English electronic band, thanks to Dream Academy general manager John Pok, an ardent fan of the band.

Our Hobby Is Depeche Mode, a documentary by Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller and film-maker Nicholas Abrahams featuring the band's diehard fans around the world, will be screened for the first time in Singapore.

There will be a 15-minute audio-visual collaboration, inspired by Depeche Mode, by former resident Zouk DJ, DJ Aldrin and M/SF/T of motion design artist duo Non/Aligned in between screenings. This will be followed by an after-party, featuring DJs Aldrin and KFC spinning to live visuals by M/SF/T.

Tickets for tonight's film screenings are sold out, but an additional screening is scheduled for tomorrow evening. Those keen to boogie to Depeche Mode-inspired beats can still go to the party tonight.

Next Friday, the second instalment of The Henderson Project will feature a night of art, poetry and a mish-mash of music from hip-hop to jazz.

Visitors will be treated to hip-hop beats from Lazy Habits, a seven-piece band from London, a spoken word-cum- music performance by The Sam Willows' Benjamin Kheng along with local soul singer Michaela Therese and jazz/ hip-hop group L.A.B.

Deejays JNR and Drem from the Matteblacc crew, a group of Singapore-based spinmeisters, will helm the decks.

Home-grown spoken word artists Marc Nair, Allee Koh, Charlene Shepherdson and Marylyn Tan will present a performance titled EleMental, which was developed based on the theme of the project for the evening, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The theme is in turn inspired by a poem of the same name by American soul and jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron.

Added to the mix are a bar, an exhibition of art pieces by local artists based on the themes of the two projects, and merchandise from fashion labels.

The Henderson Project had a soft launch last year featuring musical The Last Five Years and a solo performance by actor Robin Goh titled Happy Robin.

This year, the Dream Academy team worked with creative consultancy Present Purpose and decided to dabble in other genres beyond theatre and music.

Tan says: "We renovated the space and improved the sound and light systems in the studio, spending about $50,000. With these different genres in one space, we hope to attract a wider audience."

The potential of the space gives artists plenty of reasons to cheer too.

Singer Therese, 33, says: "Musicians are always looking for interesting new spaces to perform at. I'm very grateful the team has opened up its studio space. It shows it is committed to not just the theatre scene, but also the entire art scene in Singapore."

For Nair, 33, performing at the project will allow him and fellow spoken word artists to engage with an audience who may not be familiar with the art form.

He says: "We always seem to be performing in front of the same group of people, so I'm excited to reach out to those who are unaware of spoken word performances."

Tan likens the location to visiting a friend's home: "It's like your friend wants to share a new film or music with you and invites you to his place to enjoy the experience together in a cosy space."

gurveenk@sph.com.sg