If Walls Could Speak – Lisa Lip on What’s Behind ‘These Storied Walls’
Textures: A Weekend With Words is back with its third edition, These Storied Walls. This year, the event is inspired heavily by the history of The Arts House and is focused on telling those stories. With an array of performances, talks, audio and visual installations and workshops, Textures promises to bring audience up close and personal to these stories. Sinema.SG had an opportunity to meet with Lisa Lip, Senior Manager of Programmes and Producer for Textures, to gather some insights.
What was your inspiration behind making this year’s event more interactive than previous years?
This is the third year for Textures, with this year’s theme being These Storied Walls. When we were brainstorming about what can be done differently, one of the main things we really wanted to explore was increasing accessibility. It is about really breaking down barriers that the audience perceive to have. One of the main ways of doing that was to make things more durational and we did that by having installations that the audience can interact with longer, with each experience being personalised to the person.
We also stretched the festival out over two weekends as opposed to just one. We tried to keep the event as free as possible, to increase accessibility. The content is varied as well. Sometimes, the audience doesn’t completely understand certain abstract installations but I don’t think that is going to be a problem this year.
With an increase in interactive installations, what are some things you have to take into consideration?
Many of our installations aren’t just about touching. There are QR codes involved and some of the installations are audio driven that you have to listen to experience. That’s something we took into consideration with the COVID outbreak. We will sanitise everything before the next person uses it.
More technology driven installations is something we have focused on as well. We have taken baby steps because that requires a much bigger budget. We are constantly looking for different ways to tell stories. The VR (virtual reality) installation makes you feel like you are physically in the story. We just want to see what the audience reaction is like and if they would enjoy this type of presentation.
What should someone attending the festival for the first time look out for?
For someone experiencing Textures for the first time, your experience starts before you even enter The Arts House because it is the first time we have commissioned outdoor installations. On the lawn, you have In Universe by Troy Chin, who is a graphic novelist. He is moving a lot of his content online so his installation has many QR codes. What you see in person is amplified online. On the other side of the lawn, we have something focused towards kids, which is the world of Sherlock Sam and the Supper Club by AJ Low and Drewscape.
When you come into The Arts House, the VR 360 – Sorta Scary Singapore Stories is on the left. We are going to have a Book Clinic too. This would be the place to start if you are unsure of where to begin your Textures adventure. Here, our book doctors will prescribe you something to suit your mood. It’s modelled exactly after a doctor’s office. That’s something really fun for first timers.
There is another sound installation called Say What Ah? where members of the literary and arts community will be reading you their favourite literary pieces and telling you a little bit more about their work. All this is just on the first floor! There’s something for everyone, at every level of your #BUYSINGLIT journey.
Why have you decided to focus on stories?
All of us can connect with a good story, having grown up listening to them. Everything we do can become a story. We want to connect with the audience by giving them a narrative and allow them to create their own stories with what they connect with or imagine. That’s the easiest starting point – a good story.
What are some of the challenges you face with your team to put this event together?
The most obvious challenge was putting together a program that would really resonate with the audience. You just don’t know how it’s going to be received. That’s the risk we take with ever installation. We have been doing this for awhile so the mechanics of putting together a festival is not unfamiliar to us at this point.
It’s choosing the subject matter that is the challenge and risk. Also, getting the word out over everything that is happening in the world is a challenge. We are doing this close to the March school holidays but we are still competing with everything that is happening around us. The Arts House is a destination venue, not on the way to anywhere else, so it’s really a choice that we are trying to enforce.
What is your favourite installation and why?
I have two pieces that I feel personally more connected with. The first is a performance called Handbook of Daily Movement. I have been working with Marc Nair for some time now. He has evolved tremendously from being a poet and I have been involved in his journey. The piece is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with a modern interpretation. Marc has put a lot of thought into this because he explores how those needs translate into body and movement. We don’t have many programs that deal with movement and dance so I thought this is very timely. We want to provide a platform for artistes to explore different expressions, wherever we can. It’s been very exciting to see Marc push his own boundaries and evolve as an artiste.
I have known Joyce Teo for awhile and she has been leading the Gamelan for awhile, being in the scene. I personally love the sound of the instrument because I find it very melodious and soothing. I thought it was interesting to put that in The Chamber (a room in The Arts House), which is a formal space, and see how we can have the interaction to make that space more welcoming. Our whole point is to help people feel more at home here and break the boundaries of what people conventionally think of a literary festival. We have curated three different performances around the Gamelan, as a musical base.
What would you like to bring to future festivals?
We want to continue working with a variety of artistes, while getting new ones on board. We want them to see Textures as a potential starting point for their work and for them to be inspired by it. We hope to produce performances and installations that we can bring beyond our shores. We want the world to know how awesome #SINGLIT is and reach a wider audience.
Why should people come to Textures?
I really want people to come and be surprised, in a way that they wouldn’t expect to be, by the genesis of literature in #SINGLIT. I encourage people to come here and interact with the installations while having meaningful experiences in a way that is special and means something to them.
Catch These Storied Walls from 13 to 22 March 2020 at The Arts House. Full event details can be found here.