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SMU-X students present “RE:CALL”, a live inter-disciplinary theatre-dance production to full-house audience

16 Sep 2021

After a gruelling eight months of preparation by a group of Singapore Management University students, alumni and partners, “RE:CALL” was performed ‘live’ on 21 and 22 August 2021 at 42 Waterloo Street, in three full-house sessions comprising of 34 audience members each. A performance response to the text Recalling Mother (2009) with a “living script” as its conceptual framework, it is a rare inter-disciplinary collaboration between dance and theatre, incorporating Malay and hip-hop street dance aesthetics.

The students were part of the 2020 cohort from SMU-X’s Performing Arts Management programme (ACM201) mentored by Assistant Professor Hoe Su Fern, which provides students with practical knowledge of key processes, practices and principles within performing arts management and  established industry conventions. Through a unique blend of conceptual frameworks, professional insight and experiential learning, students gain insights into the practical and conceptual competencies required to produce, troubleshoot and sustain live productions; from formalistic considerations, operational models to audience engagement strategies, promotional techniques and related arts management principles.

In November 2020, the students pitched the RE:CALL project to SMU-X’s client partner, Centre 42 as part of their 2021 Vault Programme. “The Vault” invites artists and practitioners to respond critically and personally to canonical Singapore classics, lesser known pieces and rarities, reworks and adaptations, and cross-cultural and cross-genre works. The proposal was selected in January 2021 by Centre 42, which provided a grant of S$3,000. The students went on to successfully apply for another S$3,000 from the National Youth Council, as part of their Young Changemakers programme in May 2021.  The students also managed to obtain in-kind support from multiple stakeholders, including venue sponsorship from Dance Nucleus, P7:1SMA , National Arts Council’s Arts Resource Hub, and use of the original text from Checkpoint Theatre.

In conceptualising and producing the project, the students handled everything from grant applications, budgeting, stakeholder management, technical production management, venue sourcing, communications, ticket sales and arts entertainment licensing. They also undertook more than what an arts manager would typically do, which included research, documentation and dramaturgy. The experience provided them a valuable opportunity to deepen the learnings of industry practices beyond the classroom.


 

Due to limited capacity and safe management measures, there was a significant waiting list for the ‘live’ showcases. Those who managed to obtain tickets had the opportunity to enjoy a 75-minute showcase which included a movement performance, a pre-show lecture and a post-show dialogue. There was also a poster exhibition to provide deeper context of the original text and production process. To further share the unique devising process, a dance workshop was also held on 22 August and was participated by dance practitioners from differing backgrounds.

RE:CALL was also presented digitally on 3 September, with a YouTube premiere watch party and a panel discussion with Claire Wong, original writer and performer of “Recalling Mother” and other industry experts. The performance can be viewed via this link.

Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Arts and Culture Management Programme, Hoe Su Fern said, “What brings an arts project into existence in the first place is a group of people who share the inherent desire to work together to create, produce and present work that comes from the imagination. What holds an arts project together, is an intrinsic drive to enable, no matter what. I am thankful and have learnt so much from the students. Their derring-do approach, enthusiasm to learn, and care towards others, never once wavered since the first day they stepped into my classroom. However fraught the journey, the students were never fragmented and never once gave up. Importantly, they always prioritised the artistic process and allowed the work sufficient space to grow and blossom. Their sense of unity and commitment remained unshattered despite all the endless curveballs. Because of these students and hopefully more to come, the future of the arts in Singapore will be brighter and kinder.”

Ms Ma Yanling, Company Manager of Centre 42, said “We had selected RE:CALL to be presented at Centre 42’s Vault platform due to its optimal balance of operations and objectives, making it a project that is feasible and meets the vision it set out to achieve. The process to realise RE:CALL from a classroom concept to a real-world staging was not a straightforward one, encumbered with delays and changes brought on by Covid-19 measures. The resilience and adaptability of the producing team to see through a successful presentation was a testament to the good foundational work they have built as undergraduate arts managers. This journey had allowed them to experience and fine-tune the less tangible arts management sensibilities that are required of them to be the enabler of the artists’ work, bridge and manage stakeholders’ expectations, and engage with audiences. I am very proud and pleased to have borne witness to the team’s growth as arts managers during the 8-month long process. The working ethics, attitudes, trust and goodwill they have built up with the many stakeholders involved will go a long way for their individual careers in the arts.”

Last updated on 16 Sep 2021 .