Drama Box's Flowers installation explores a family affected by domestic violence

Flowers is an experiential installation by Drama Box that explores violence in a family setting.
Flowers is an experiential installation by Drama Box that explores violence in a family setting.PHOTO: DRAMA BOX

SINGAPORE - How does domestic violence affect physical space as well as lives?

Drama Box's new experiential installation, Flowers, constructs a fictional home affected by family violence that ticketholders can wander through.

Drama Box's resident artist Han Xuemei emphasises that Flowers is not a site-specific work but brings its own story to the location - a terrace house in Chip Bee Gardens.

Ten ticketholders at a time have up to 90 minutes to wander through the sets constructed by Lim Woan Wen, with sound by Darren Ng, based on a narrative written by playwright Jean Tay. Within this setting, the audience learns the history of the fictional family.

Han, 31, says Flowers is "a project about our relationship with patriarchy" and unpacking the impact this has on male and female roles and expectations. For example, daughters being told to come home earlier than sons, or women out late at night being more fearful than men in similar situations.

Her aim is to bring people together in conversation rather than alienate any side, hence she decided to explore violence in a family setting.

"In families, it's especially easy to see people as human beings. A father being violent doesn't mean he's a monster, you can see how he's agonising over the inability to have a relationship with the rest of his family. It's less easy to draw a line and say, 'This person is unworthy of respect.'"

  • BOOK IT / FLOWERS

  • WHERE: 74 Jalan Kelabu Asap

    WHEN: May 1 to 5, various timings from 10am to 8.30pm. 90 minutes per show, limited to 10 at a time.

    ADMISSION: $30 from flowers.eventbee.com

Flowers follows on last year's audience-centred experience, Missing: The City Of Lost Things, devised by Han, playwright Tay and sound artist Ng. Ticketholders received instructions by text and a kit to use at a location of their choice. Missing: The City Of Lost Things was meant to take ticketholders on individual journeys where they reconnected with places that had deep personal meaning.

With Flowers, Han hopes viewers make personal connections to the narrative constructed by the artistic collaborators. "This isn't mystery solving. I don't want the audience to be preoccupied with looking for clues and worrying that they might have missed something. The experience I want the audience to have is making connections between the piece and themselves."

Writing the script has been particularly hard, according to playwright Tay, 45, since Flowers is about experiencing an installation rather than actors interacting on set. "The reasons why I wanted to take up this challenge is to see how you tell a story without the traditional scenes," she says. "How do you evoke characters without writing them?"

Han declines to reveal more details about the actual experience, even refusing to say if actors will be involved.

She does say that the title, Flowers, has a dual meaning. "It's trying to subvert the usual association. We tend to associate flowers with women - we look good, smell nice and, most important, are fruitful. But what came to mind is also how flowers are symbols of resilience, like the Vietnam War protester placing a flower in the barrel of a rifle. It's an invitation to see flowers as a symbol of hope."