EVERY year since taking shape, Theatrethreesixty pulls together a series of shows by means of resident talents and special collaborations for an annual performing arts festival. Simply named we are theatrethreesixty, their festival debuted in 2014 with three intimate productions — one of them a double-bill featuring a Desmond Sim piece — and a live installation.
Last year’s we are theatrethreesixty 2015 emitted a bigger, brighter energy as the company took over an abandoned office building in Damansara Perdana to deliver a stylised, immersive staging of Caryl Churchill‘s Love & Information amidst a selection of performances and installations.
Though smaller in scale than its debut, that edition marked a willingness to engage with other creative establishments — Poetry Cafe KL and Monday Show Entertainment presented smaller showcases as part of we are theatrethreesixty 2015. This year however will see the company casting an even wider net from their brand new theatre space in Sentul.
The third edition of their unique theatre festival launches this week with ten items on the agenda. Commencing on Thursday at Tommy Le Baker, Viva Residency, we are theatrethreesixty 2016 stays true to its theme for the year (“stepping out”) as evident in their most eclectic line-up to date.
Showcasing theatre, music, comedy and workshops, this year’s festival also has young up-and-comers such as independent theatre troupe Anomalist Production, visual artist/musician Ajim Juxta, and rising female stand-up Hannan Azlan involved.
But most impressive of the lot is this year’s headliner, a staging of four short plays written by Nobel Prize-winner Samuel Beckett. Having presented a reading of Arthur Miller‘s renowned Death of a Salesman in March, the company will soon tackle the works of Beckett whose absurdist Waiting For Godot arrested the world with its openness to diverse interpretation.
A single mouth begging for understanding, as a robed figure looks on. A woman recounting her last days, rocking in a rocking chair. A woman, pacing, answering to an unseen mother. A man, sculpted to the tyrannical vision of a director. This is Samuel Beckett at his most iconic.
Directed by Theatrethreesixty co-founder Nicole Ann Thomas, Bare Beckett consists of “Not I”, “Rockaby”, “Footfalls” and “Catastrophe”. Starring in these pieces are performers Tria Aziz, Anitha Abdul Hamid, Alvin Looi, Grace Ng, and even Artistic Director of Theatrethreesixty, Christopher Ling.
Nicole, who returns to the director’s chair for the first time since 2014’s atmospheric and touching physical theatre piece Pack/Unpack (put together with Ostella Adam), hopes that audiences can “experience the complexity within the simplicity” of Beckett’s writings through the 90-minute compilation.
“His shorts are challenging in their own unique way and they test actors on different levels,” Nicole touts semi-cryptic. “You will not be the same after you’ve done a Beckett play.”
As an actor, dancer and singer, Nicole has appeared in numerous notable productions including the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC)‘s Kiss of the Spider Woman and Bernarda Alba. She’s even performed two of her chosen pieces in Bare Beckett, and trusting full well their life-changing influence, Nicole cherry-picked her actors for the experience.
“I chose them according to who I wanted to work with and challenge, but I also wanted to see these actors grow after doing a Beckett play.”
“Chris was sitting in front of me, and I noticed that he’s an actor I’ve not seen on stage for a while,” explained Nicole on her casting decisions. “Anitha is another one you don’t see a lot of — I believe she’s one of our most underrated actors.”
So if you’re the type who enjoys “questioning the beauty of the human condition”, you’ll know where to be this week. If you’re not, wait: there’s more!
There’ll also be a physical theatre piece directed and performed by Singaporean arts and fitness educator Emile Dumont, who in his 1 Step Forward 3 Steps Back examines society and its setbacks through movement, while Anomalist Production will be restaging their latest short play, Hotel.
But those looking for lighter fare or are saddled with kids can check out Monday Blues, and the Other Hues by Monday Show Entertainment, a collection of showtunes performed by students of the company’s musical theatre program.
There’s actually a lot more happening than what we’ve mentioned, so make sure to look at the full programme to get a better idea. See you there folks!
We are theatrethreesixty 2016 runs from 12 – 15 May 2016 at Theatrethreesixty at Tommy Le Baker, A-1-5, Viva Residency, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, 51200 Kuala Lumpur. Tickets to all performances can be obtained via Tixipro, but make sure to check Facebook for more details!