Latin American giants (Re-post)




Stills from the scene of D: The Malady of Death by Marguerite Duras


TODAY speaks with Vertical Submarine about the upcoming staging of FourPlays: ABCD


As TheatreWorks’ associate artists, art collective Vertical Submarine wanted to follow up their 2011 theatre debut Dust — A Recollection with a 48-hour-long event revolving around interrogations. Realising they might not get enough people to stay, they thought of something less audacious but no less interesting: A four-in-one show centred around four 20th century authors.

ABCD’s title is taken from the names of four authors, and through the course of the play, we watch interpretations of Roberto Arlt’s Luba, Jorge Luis Borges’ The Form Of The Sword, Julio Cortazar’s House Taken Over and Marguerite Duras’ The Malady Of Death. All of these feature two characters (performed by Rayann Condy, Vanessa Ann Vanderstraaten, Stephane Brusa and Tim Garner) and deal with the impossibility of dialogue. (Ironically, this is the group’s first production with actual dialogue.)

While it’s technically a piece of theatre, member Joshua Yang said they approached its creation as they would a painting.

“During the rehearsal process, we just kept on doing runs of the whole script again and again, like starting with a very rough sketch, then the under-painting, then more layers. I think it drove the actors crazy,” he laughed.

As for audiences, Yang hopes that the piece is received as a kind of “book recommendation” for Latin American literature that the group is fond of.

“They’re a bit anti-literature and it can be very hard to get through the texts but we want people to get interested in the books,” he said, intimating that the act of reading isn’t confined to books.

“We try to widen the definition. Even in painting, you’re supposed to ‘read’ what the painter put in there; in theatre, you also ‘read’ the body language of the authors and listen to the lines. There’s this kind of decoding process.”

ABCD is from April 3 to 6, 8pm, 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road. Tickets at S$35 from or 6737 7213.

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