As promised, we present to you thoughts of the collaborative artists behind Dimensions & Demons, to be performed at the Esplanade Recital Studio on 5th November.
“An exercise in deromanticizing nostalgia, A Carnival of Confessions is a collaborative piece by prolific writer Dave Chua and music wondergirl weish, exploring the relation between guilt and imagination.”
What does the idea of “Dream Worlds” mean to you?
Dave: Any thing your imagination can dream up!
weish: For me it literally means the world of dreams, that is, in slumber. I dream very vividly – often stressful, exhausting dreams.
What is your final work/concept about?
Dave: It’s a carnival where the protagonist has to confess to his or her lies.
weish: Our piece is based on a recurring dream I’ve had, in which I was forced to come clean with everyone I’ve ever lied to. Some of these are trivial and humorous; others darker and more painful. The work as a whole explores the relation between guilt and dreams; in our conscious memory we often romanticise nostalgia, and I think the subconscious tries to make up for it by surfacing repressed, unwanted memories. We’re also incorporating a fair bit of audience participation, both prior to and during the show itself… quite excited about that! In so doing we hope to surface some common secrets that we all share, as well as invite them to join us in confronting some of these demons.
What was the process of collaboration like?
Dave: It’s been an interesting one. Weish has some great ideas and I’ve been working them into the story. I’ve also tried to cut down the text, because I think I want to give Weish space to employ her remarkable voice. She’s been giving some great feedback and ideas on how to improve the piece.
weish: I related my dream to Dave, but gave him very little to go by — these were some of my darkest secrets! He immediately constructed this beautiful landscape, and conveyed the atmosphere and tension with surprising accuracy, in the first draft. After that, it’s just been a back-and-forth of studio sessions, redrafting, and trying to integrate music into text in a meaningful way. Somewhere in the rehearsal process I eventually caved and shared some authentic confessions, which made me feel very vulnerable, yet somehow empowered. This led to everybody sharing a little bit of themselves — Licia from the Esplanade, too… which was comforting. It was an unexpected catharsis, reminding me how art can sometimes force you to clear the fog, to confront truth.
Were there any compromises in the artistic vision for the sake of collaboration?
Dave: Not really. It’s kind of new territory for me, and an interesting learning experience. Am just going with the flow.
weish: Dave is a brilliant writer, so I started out really shy about my own writing and ideas. But he’s been so encouraging from the beginning, and I gradually opened up. I’d say it’s been ideal — a very organic process. At least I hope so, and that he isn’t secretly compromising on his own vision!
What form will the performance take?
weish: A carnival of confession, a mix between narration and song as we walk the audience through the dreamscape. Using my looper, a synth, as well as an ambient mic amidst the audience, everybody will have a hand in building the soundscape with us.
What should the audience takeaway from the performance?
Dave: I think it’ll depend. Hopefully a sense of something disturbing?
weish: It really is open to all interpretation, and I’d be more than happy for them to take away anything at all. At the very least, I hope they’d recognise a little bit of themselves in the piece, and take comfort in that common humanity.
Dave Chua graduated in 2013 with an MA in Creative Writing (Prose) from the University of East Anglia. He won the Golden Point Short Story Contest in 1995. His first novel, Gone Case, received a Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award in 1996. He worked with artist Koh Hong Teng on Gone Case: A Graphic Novel, Book 1 and Book 2. The novel was also adapted into a two-part TV miniseries for MediaCorp in 2013. His latest book,The Beating and Other Stories, was longlisted for the 2012 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.
weish is a Singaporean artist whose primary medium is live loops, creating a multi-layered landscape of sounds with a mixture of singing, vocal percussion and occasional instrumentation. In the span of one year, she has opened for Canadian indie rock band Tegan and Sara, played at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix, as well as performed at numerous venues such as the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre and Concert Hall, the Fred Perry Subsessions, The Substation, Zouk, TEDx Singapore, Home Club, Blu Jaz, Timbre, and The Arts House.