When isolation meets inspiration: Two Songs and a Story
Artists (from left to right) ants chua, Inch Chua, Jo Tan, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai and weish share the various experiences of isolation in a series of live performances presented by Checkpoint Theatre. (Photo Courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre; Photo Credit: Joel Lim @ Calibre Pictures)

When isolation meets inspiration: Two Songs and a Story

It is often said that every cloud has a silver lining.  Among the heartening things that have transpired during the COVID-19 pandemic is the continuous creation of art, notwithstanding – or perhaps because of – this unexpected period in history.

The outpouring of art and creativity brings to mind the birth of the Greek goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite; the image of her rising from the foam of the ocean. Greek myth aside, stories about art and creativity born in challenging times are indeed unfolding close to home.

Two Songs and a Story, presented by Checkpoint Theatre, is an online video series that explores the stirring complexities of life and relationships during the time of COVID-19. It is created and dramaturged by Checkpoint’s co-founder and joint artistic director Huzir Sulaiman, in collaboration with photographer Joel Lim.

The series comprises solo performances by five artists – ants chua, Jo Tan, Inch Chua, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai and weish. Each performance is an intimate sharing of the artist’s heart and mind as she lays bare her secrets and fears in her search for connection, love and healing in this time. Read on to find out what each artist has to say about her work in Two Songs and a Story.

ants chua’s at least I have words now

The COVID-19 pandemic showed Chua just how intimately connected we all are to friends, family and the world around us. Her performance, therefore, explores the connection between two people, and especially the importance of non-romantic connections and friendships in a world dominated by the romantic narrative. For her, such relationships are precious and well worth one’s time and attention.

Inch Chua’s Super Q

While volunteering in migrant worker dormitories during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chua found the experience surreal; this allowed her to see things from a new perspective. The stint left a deep impression on her and it inspired the making of Super Q. She hopes to share the moments of gratitude and social awareness she experienced with audiences.

Jo Tan’s A Bit

A lack of inspiration, ironically, was what inspired this performance by Tan. Stuck at home and struggling to be productive, she took her husband’s advice to relax instead. She quickly lost herself in the fictional worlds of books, games and television shows. Through it, she realised just how valuable art is in providing a sanctuary, and how important it is not to feel ashamed of escaping into fantasy worlds.

Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai’s And Then I Am Light

While Dorai’s work usually explores themes of self-doubt and trauma, this piece didn’t start out that way. And Then I Am Light began as an exploration into anxiety, which evolved as she explored her relationships – with herself and others, during this pandemic. She came to realise that fears, anxieties and insecurities often build up within us and fill us with self-doubt, and we need to reach further within to uncover our true selves and potential. This is what she hopes to communicate with the work.

weish’s Be Here, With Me  

weish confessed that she was unable to offer a summary of her performance. Her response, however, might be an astute summary, since her works are often inspired by the absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett. Be Here, With Me was conceived in a stream of consciousness and it took shape on paper in just 15 mins. She hopes her performance offers audiences a look into her mind, and that it helps anyone who has ever felt trapped in their own heads feel a little less alone.

Get tickets to Two Songs and a Story on SISTIC Live here. The online show runs until 31 Aug.

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