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S’pore theatre group gears up for big interdisciplinary production

Singapore theatre group The Necessary Stage will stage their next big interdisciplinary production “Gitanjali [I feel the earth move]” in September, which will contain numerous dance and multimedia elements.

SINGAPORE: Singapore theatre group The Necessary Stage (TNS) will stage their next big interdisciplinary production “Gitanjali [I feel the earth move]”, in September.

The play tells the tale of Savitri, a traditional dance teacher based in India who pins her hopes on her best student Priya.

But when Priya decides to migrate to Canada and start her own contemporary dance company, Savitri turns to her son Shankara for help.

Alas, Shankara wants to leave for Singapore with his wife Nandini, and Savitri is eventually left with little choice but to try and reconcile with her student as well as her son.

“Gitanjali [I feel the earth move]”, which is inspired by a series of poems by Rabindranath Tagore that won the Bengali polymath the Nobel Prize for Literature, contains numerous dance and multimedia elements.

TNS artistic director Alvin Tan revealed that staging “Gitanjali [I feel the earth move]” is one of the theatre group’s more complex and challenging projects to date.

He explained that the theatre group has put together a sophisticated team to pull it off.

“It involves more people than usual. Artists from different disciplines. Besides actors (Sharda Harrison, Padma Sagaram, Ebi Shankara), we are working with dancers (Raka Maitra and Jereh Leung), Olé Khamchanla (dancer/choreographer), a multimedia artist (Brian Gothong Tan) and a sound artist (Bani Haykal),” said Tan.

“We are also working with set designer Wong Chee Wai and lighting designer Adrian Tan in this interdisciplinary work.”

“In order to help us meld the different disciplines, we brought Charlene Rajendran on board as a dramaturg. She and her team help to document the process and give invaluable comment and analysis on the script and the composition of the work.”

Tan added that it is not been easy to find the right people to come together and stage an interdisciplinary production, which is why such works are not often staged in Singapore.

“It is challenging to assemble a group of artists who are ready to work together to create an original work through a devising approach without egos coming in the way.  

“It takes artists who are respectful, patient and open enough to learn about one's art through the practice of another discipline, and then work together to compose in an interactive fashion,” said Tan. 

TNS resident playwright Haresh Sharma, who wrote “Gitanjali [I feel the earth move]”, which will be staged from September 26-28 at the SOTA Drama Theatre, believes that it will appeal to “anyone who loves art and literature”.

“The play looks at universal themes such as relationships between mother/son, teacher/student etc. The play is not only performed through acting but also through dance.

“Using these disciplines, the play is both dramatic and meditative; there are light moments with humour, as well as poignant scenes where characters bare their souls,” said Sharma.

“‘Gitanjali [I feel the earth move]’ is unique not just for its interdisciplinarity. We are also working with professional dancers, both traditional and contemporary.”

“There are many beautiful dance sequences, as well as recitations of poetry and 'live' music. It will be a visually stunning experience, with some food for the soul.”

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