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艺术节本地节目何以失常?
Why do local acts go off at Arts Fests?
韩咏红 By Han Yong Hong
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Officials at the National Arts Council should be overjoyed. In spite of competition from the World Cup and the economic downturn, this year’s Singapore Arts Festival was a hugh success - 80.2% of tickets for its core programmes were snapped up, an increase of 5 percentage points over the previous year. Besides, audience for its non-core and free programmes also saw a 50% surge.

  What’s more, reviewers had also given the overall programming and publicity efforts the thumbs-up. The seven overseas productions by master artists also received more praise than criticism. If there is any major disappointment, it is that local works paled in comparison with international productions.

  Over the years, local arts and artists have made a deeper impression in the international arenas and gained rapid recognition. Unfortunately, the confidence that we have developed gradually in our arts often suffers serious setbacks in the annual Arts Festival.

  An assessment of performances by local theatre over the last three to four years will make one realise this strange phenomenon: arts houses which have usually done fairly well will go haywire when they perform during the Arts Festivals. And this happens frequently even to larger and much more experienced setups.

  A few years back, director Ong Keng Sen’cross-cultural experiment Lear was not invited to the Arts Festival. Yet it won critical acclaim when it was staged here. Many felt aggrieved for Ong and rapped the Arts Festival for not recognising a gem of a performance. Two years after the event, Ong’s second cross-cultural work Desdemona was made the curtain-raiser of the Arts Festival. But it was severely criticised. (来源:英语学习门户 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

  Last year, a collaboration entitled One Hundred Years In Waiting by The Necessary Stage and Theatre Practice, both big names in arts circles here, was a letdown. Imagine Forest, a joint effort by Arts Fission Company and the T’ang Quartet, showed clearly that the preparations were inadequate.

  Except for the two national orchestras, namely, Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, few arts groups here can maintain their standards during the Arts Festivals.

  There are of course many reasons why some local arts groups have not been able to keep up their good performance during the Arts Festival. I believe the attitude of treating the Arts Festival as a “special event” is one of the reasons why some groups just cannot get their act together.

  The Singapore Arts Festival is the premier arts event here. Any group that has been invited to be part of it will be able to get a higher-than-usual sponsorship and will endeavour to do its best. The irony is that in order to impress with the highest standards of local arts at the festival, artists will do everything possible to innovate, for instance, collaboration of different arts forms, multi-media, new themes, unprecedented ways of creation and untried methods. In other words, local arts groups often engage in artistic pursuits that they are not used to during the Arts Festivals.

  To take this further, the phenomenon is probably intertwined with the eagerness of some artists for quick success and instant benefits, the demands of the audience, and the guiding principles of the Arts Festival.

  A few years ago, the Arts Festival announced a new emphasis on cutting-edge works. It also affirmed its mission of promoting the arts here. Should the two objectives be in any disharmony with each other, I think there is no need to put them together and ask all local arts houses performing at the Arts Festival to attempt to be “bold and innovative”.

  Local productions in the Arts Festivals should provide the audience with what they are best at. Yes, creativity in the arts should be encouraged. But artists should not expect overnight success. The National Arts Council and artists themselves should both have a reasonable understanding of what is achievable. Setting ambitious plans without the ability to execute them will only result in performances that are unsatisfactory.


(The writer is Lianhe Zaobao’s art journalist. Translated by Yap Gee Poh.)


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国家艺术理事会该喜上眉梢了。因为,在世界杯热潮和经济不景的双重阴影下,今年艺术节逆流而上,亮出漂亮的票房成绩。核心节目票房80.2%,比去年高5个百分点;非核心和免费节目的观众,更一举提高超过50%。

  不仅如此,今年的节目策划,节日宣传,还得到评论界普遍肯定。从国外请来七项大师作品,也让人是赞多于弹。如果说有什么很大遗憾,就是本地节目在国际作品中,相形见绌。

  近年来,本地艺术在国际上的表现日益精进,知名度也迅速提高。可是,我们对新加坡艺术培养起来的信心,常常又在一年一度的艺术节里,遭到重创。

  总结这三四年来本地节目的表现,你会发现一个怪现象:平时演出水平不错的团体,一参加艺术节,水平就走样。即使是经验老道的大团,也常出现这种情况。

  几年前,王景生导演的跨文化《李尔》,没有被邀请参加艺术节,该作品后来在本地上演,观众一片喝采声,大家愤愤不平地替王景生不值,抨击艺术节“走宝”。两年后,王景生的第二个跨文化作品 《苔丝德蒙娜》,荣列艺术开幕节目。不料,演出饱受炮轰。

  同样的,实践剧场和必要剧场,两者都是本地响当当的招牌,去年它们联手演出话剧《百年的等待》,令人大失所望。去年,唐四重奏和化生艺术团合作跨界舞台《想像的森林》,也明显准备不足。

  至今,除了新加坡交响乐团和华乐团两大国家乐团外,能避开“遇节走样”规律的艺术团,并不太多。

  本地团体表现不如平时,原因肯定不只一个。但我相信,艺术家面对艺术节时的“不平常”心态,应该是“遇节走样”的原因之一。

  艺术节是新加坡最重要艺术盛会,无论哪个团体受邀参加,都是全力以赴,能争取到的赞助也比平常高。讽刺的是,因为是艺术节演出,因为要展示本地最高的水平,所以大家绞尽脑汁设计创新的法门:跨界合作,多媒体,新题材,前所未有的创作方式,从未试过的方法。艺术节期间,本地团体往往做些他们不习惯做的事。

  深究下去,这个现象和艺术家本身急功近利的思想,和观众对艺术节的要求,还有艺术节的方针都有关系。

  几年前,艺术节宣布大胆创新的新方针,同时确认了推动本地制作的使命。如果这两个目标出现某种不协调性时,我想不必勉强把两个目标相加,要求所有参加艺术节的本地团体,一律“大胆创新”。

   艺术节的本地节目,应该展现它们原来面貌中最好的一面。艺术创作鼓励创新,但艺术家不能有一蹴而就的速成心态。这点上,艺理会和艺术家本身,都应该合理估计实力。眼高手低的结果,只能是不伦不类的演出。


·作者是《联合早报》文化艺术记者



 
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