It is said that listening to whale songs will help with sleep quality and its frequencies calm you down. The resonance of their song embrace your entire being, like a warm hug and gently cradles you into rest. But with global warming steadily rising and climate change deniers taking up space at international political arenas, it can be difficult to not cry and be filled with fear the next time the melodious tune starts playing from your ‘Whales songs to sleep’ app.

Can you imagine that one day, perhaps, all that is left of whales would be that one song that plays on loop; a digital existence that lives on while their real lives are over?

Andrew Sutherland‘s latest work a line could be crossed and you would slowly cease to be negotiates death, extinction, abandonment and the intrinsic nature of our world. His words tease out the nuances and inevitabilities of climate change, poetry belying the harsh demise of the world if we still not change. The conversations and stories were a pleasure to listen to and experience.

Under the critical and detailed direction of director Koh Wan Ching, the performance done by Intercultural Theatre Institute‘s 2019 graduating cohort and two guest performers brought the words to life in their chaos, heartache and hopefulness.

Abstract and profound, there were many strong images that struck me: a baby turtle trying to find its way to the big ocean, a mother wrapped in outfits of plastic sitting in a supermarket trolley, a figure of stillness who stubbornly refuses to move and is later revealed to be the Merlion. The images came and went, leaving one vivid impression after another. Conversations and words flowed from one mouth to the next, forming a sea of text that I had to swim through and find my place. Nothing seemed to make sense and yet I understood them all, as I glimpsed into three different universes – or were they all the same? – that spoke of varying fears, losses and needs.

Everyone was reaching out in their own ways, hands outstretched and desperation shared.

Jey Lim Jun Jie, who played an architect, captured my attention with his endearing quirks as a character and his subsequent meltdown was a highlight of the whole work. He embodied the acceptance of what can be said to be his lot in life with good-natured humour. That made me empathise and feel for his character when he struggled with his memory – remembering, forgetting, rewriting and ‘dying’ as he lost parts of who he is, or was.

A special mention goes to Earnest Hope Tinambacan and Jeramy Lim for holding the space of tenderness and conflict at such a precarious balance.

Upon leaving the theatre, my thoughts were still swirling in my head. Not drowning, but out of breath, my hand reaching out to look for an answer and a hope that the future will not be bleak. But this performance was not about answers, it was about the search for one while the water levels rise up to soak up all of our cruel mistakes and ignorance.

A line could indeed to crossed, and we all would slowly cease to be. And trust me, that line is way closer than you might think.

Photography credit: Bernie Ng 

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