5m tower is centrepiece in Cake's latest Decimal Points production

The performing and creative team of Decimal Points [Infinity]. -- PHOTO: CAKE THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS
The performing and creative team of Decimal Points [Infinity]. -- PHOTO: CAKE THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS

A towering metal structure is parked in the centre of the Goodman Arts Centre Gallery, where the artists behind Decimal Points [Infinity] have been rehearsing. Fans, tyres, bits of cloth and table tennis paddles are attached to or positioned next to the scaffolding.

Designer Nizam Supardi, 38, points to the top of the tower, which now stands at two tiers: "There's going to be another tier on top. I want it to go above The Substation Theatre's lighting grid."

The structure, which will stand at 5m high, is the centrepiece of the eighth and final instalment of Cake Theatrical Productions' Decimal Points series on Friday and Saturday. The series is curated by its artistic director Natalie Hennedige and presented in partnership with The Substation. These art experiments are helmed by artists who often collaborate with Cake, one of Singapore's most daringly avant garde theatre groups.

The series began four years ago with a production directed by film-maker and multimedia artist Brian Gothong Tan that juxtaposed film and live performance. Other artists and designers who have taken the reins over the course of two two-year seasons include sound designer and composer Philip Tan, designer David Lee, performance artist Rizman Putra and lighting designer Andy Lim.

They have each brought a distinctive touch to their pieces, which have tended to be abstract and open-ended, leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions from the experience.

This time, design collective neontights, of which Nizam is a member, has come together with director Mohamed Fared Jainal, 41, and Cake's resident writer Michelle Tan, 28, to co-create the work.

Each Decimal Points production has been defined by a number (such as 4.44, 5.1, 0.01, 0, 810), and the idea of using "infinity" as their number was what came first to Fared and Nizam.

Fared says: "We started to talk about our personal experiences and we thought it would be interesting to talk about faith or belief. This can be interpreted in many ways, but it's more about your relationship with a higher being and how that informs who you are and the things you do."

Neontights is known for their striking stage sets, including an Escher-esque mountain range of wooden staircases created for Cake's Illogic (2013). Dutch artist MC Escher was known for optical illusions in his artworks, including infinite staircases. In [infinity], performers will interact with this vertical, almost temple-like structure in many ways, including scaling it and swaddling it in cling wrap.

Fared says: "The relationship between the actors and the set is such that the set becomes another performer in the piece."

Sound designer Louis Quek, who goes by the moniker Intriguant, will be setting up shop on stage at the base of the metal structure. The performers will respond to his soundscape and he will react to their movements. Pat Toh and Rizman Putra, well-known names in the physical theatre genre, will be performing alongside dancer Tay Wei Liang.

The work is physical and movement-based, with no spoken words, and it will explore humanity's relationship with what lies beyond them. Playwright Tan's text will be given to audience members to mull over the connection between text and performance.

Fared says that choreographing the performers' movements has been something like creating a precise score, as one would a piece of sound or music.

"Look, turn, sigh, move - it all becomes scoring," he says. Tay's experience as a dancer has also helped in bringing a certain precision and rigour to the execution of these movements.

There will be a final showcase later this year to round up this season of Decimal Points and the company is in the process of deciding what form this will take.

Hennedige notes that because the artists making each work come from such a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds, the work showcased in Decimal Points "breaks conventional structures and creates works that can't be easily pigeonholed, offering audiences something different".

She is excited for this upcoming meeting of minds between a design team (Neontights) and a writer (Tan): "That's what it's about - artists collaborating, artists given the space, freedom and support to create, artists digging deep to make artistic work without any conditions apart from the ones they set for themselves."

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