M1 Singapore Fringe Festival: Melissa Lim’s faith in the arts
“I see the interaction between art and faith as one that can hopefully engender new forms of communication and understanding that will allow us to reach a common ground – one that is tolerant, progressive and compassionate.”
Over the years, the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival organised and curated by local theatre group, The Necessary Stage has become synonymous with cutting-edge and sometimes controversial independent works of art.
What often goes unnoticed, however, is the commitment and sheer effort needed to put together the festival. Melissa Lim tells Urban Kulit about her role as festival manager and her faith in the arts.
There is never a typical day in the life of a festival manager. Running on a very small outfit, The Necessary Stage only has 6 full-time staff.
Joining The Necessary Stage in 2005, Melissa has been the festival manager of the Fringe since its 2006 edition. Her responsibilities cover such a wide span of area that one might think you can throw her on stage and her impromptu act will not fail to impress.
Melissa’s job entails selecting works for the festival, sorting out accommodations and air tickets, perusing technical riders, having meetings with sponsors and venues, discussing works-in-progress with artists, designing marketing collaterals, handling media queries, running social media campaigns, juggling tight budgets, the list goes on but well, you get the idea.
“There’s plenty of work at any point in time, but we all love what we do – and that is a really important aspect of why we keep doing what we do,” says Melissa.
Keeping an open mind to new ideas, being candid but compassionate at all times are some of the important things that has kept her going. With a to-do list like Melissa’s, it is hard to imagine that one would have time for much else.
On the contrary, Melissa somehow manages to make time to play the guitar and bass. She also used to sing and play the guzheng. If she were not working in the arts, she would have been involved in an NGO dealing with animal welfare. Passionate about the arts, Melissa is interested in “interdisciplinary and interactive work, especially work that, on the surface, appear whimsical, playful and simple, yet carry with them a deeper theme or inquiry.”
Thus, if she were ever to contribute a piece to the Fringe Festival, it would be one that “involves collaboration between music/sound, video and performance art, and which allows for audience participation and creation.”
On this year’s festival theme of Art and Faith, Melissa believes that faith transcends the boundaries of religious tenets and encompasses systems, beliefs, societal trends.
“Faith is a positive thing: being able to place your belief in something larger than yourself is something to be celebrated. However, ironically, faith can sometimes result in dogmatism and the refusal to accept alternative practices and beliefs,” says Melissa. She considers art as the bridge between the alternatives.
“I see the interaction between art and faith as one that can hopefully engender new forms of communication and understanding that will allow us to reach a common ground – one that is tolerant, progressive and compassionate,” she adds.
This year’s festival will feature 17 works from 11 countries of which 11 are live performances and 6 are visual art. Melissa highly recommends INRI by Italian dance company Cie. Zerogrammi, which presents a wonderful, tongue-in-cheek choreography with two dancers with a lot of physical chemistry and comic timing, exploring rites and rituals in religion.
A brand new Fringe commission, Tongues by Sean Tobin and Jason Wee, is another work that Melissa believes audience should look out for. It is a confessional and lyrical contemporary performance that deals with issues pertaining to faith and sexuality. She is also particularly fond of Iraq is Flying by Jamal Penjweny, a simple yet uplifting photographic series that reminds the world there is a lot of hope and positivity in the Iraqi people, despite the media’s focus on it being a war-torn, ravaged nation. The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival runs from 15-26 February 2012. Tickets are available through Sistic.
INRI, Cie. Zerogrammi (Italy)
23- 24 February 2012, 8pm
Esplanade Theatre Studio
$30 / $19 Advisory: Brief nudity
Black Square Van Huynh Company (Hong Kong)
25 -26 February 2012, 8pm
Esplanade Theatre Studio
$30 / $19
Tongues, Sean Tobin & Jason Wee (Singapore)
16 – 18 February 2012, 8pm 18 & 19 February 2012, 3pm
Gallery Theatre, National Museum of Singapore
$30 | $19
By Amy Tan