“Journeys, a double bill” – A production of two similar yet distinctively flavoured solo-pieces

This weekend saw the performance of two local talented artists, Erwin Shah Ismail and Kimberly Chan of their self-written production in “Journeys, a double bill” at the School of the Arts Singapore.

Performed as solo-pieces, each performer single-highhandedly covered 45 mins of showtime (without break), holding a tight grasp onto the audience’s attention as they cycled through various characters depicted in their act.

Humourous and educational one-man show on leather-making and the environment

Erwin’s KULIT ON THE GO revolves around the theme of leather making, an art that has been passed down generations.

Injected with loads of humor and local reference, this traveling one-man act is performed in English, Malay, Mandarin and Hokkien with music accompaniment on the ukulele. Erwin’s perfect accent of the portrayed characters made the audience look twice at the stage as their ears were telling them a different story from what they were seeing. 

In its refined state, KULIT ON THE GO strays slightly from its original light-hearted one-man “stand-up comedy” and dives into philosophical questions of consumption and environmental issues.

First created for Teater Ekamatra’s Projek Suitcase in 2016 as a commission, the well-received performance expanded from a twenty mins performance into a fourty-five minutes show through the creative effort of Erwin and directorship of GenerAsia’s Artistic director, Richard Tan.

When asked why did he decide to expand on the story in an interview prior to the show, Erwin said that they had good reviews during the tour around the country and felt the play could be taken to another level by maturing and investing in it. He expressed enjoyment in the production process as things that he and the director did not want to do, were taken away right from the start and were simply left with what they wanted to do and had only to deal with how to work the elements into the work. 

Tan, as a veteran in the local performing scene who has gone a full-circle from directing solo acts to large theatrical performances and now back to his starting point, said that he has been excited over the collaboration with Erwin who he describes as a young accomplished actor. Tan also shared that he is pleased to see continuity in the local art scene with young aspiring artists such as Erwin and Kimberly.

Kimberly – A local talent with so much potential to look forward to

For her maiden solo performance in “IN HER SHOES”, Kimberly takes up the challenging task of portraying various women in different stages of their life with their own unique story.

Kimberly’s performance is complemented by Aloysius Foong, an accomplished contemporary pianist and classical music maestro, who brings the spontaneous, fast-paced monologue of the solo performance to life with his on-the-point accompaniment on her punchlines, pushing the intended mood to its full intensity.

While no different from how Erwin manages with his various characters, Kimberly takes a step further by slipping deeper into her roles, so deep that you can sense that she has to pull her “handbrake”, fighting her tears and emotion to come back to the audience as a narrator for her show.

Other than her well-written script that flows so well that there is hardly a gap for Kimberly to catch her breath, one cannot help but be mesmerized by Kimberly’s wonderful vocals.

Samantha Scott-Blackhall, the director of Kimberly’s performance has this to say about her work and their collaboration, “When it comes down to the nitty gritty Kim has conducted herself with much professionalism and been open to the many suggestions and edits I have offered too. We throw ideas back and forth and it’s been a healthy collaborative process.” and said “I am inspired by her courage and her passion. Putting new work out there that exposes ones vulnerabilities is a scary thing. But I see her look past those fears and instead muster the determination to create work that will touch people’s hearts and minds. I’m so glad to be a part of Kim’s maiden journey.”

A production that ran a mere 3 shows over the course of one weekend is too short and too fast for the audience to take note and a pity that many have missed a chance to grab a glimpse of two young talents’ creation and potential.