One of the many staff who’ve been helping out behind the scenes is Andrew Sutherland, a young Australian actor and playwright. He’s been studying in LaSalle here for three years and working in the arts here for another year and a half. Since he’s headed back to Perth later this month, I thought a farewell interview might be nice.
(I wasn't able to get a photo of him at the festival when he looked adorably dishevelled and under-caffeinated. This will have to do.)
YS: When and how did you get involved in The OPEN?
AS: I got involved a couple of months ago. I was asked by Noorlinah Mohamed because they were looking for people to do different things, and then I was put through to her to James Tay who was the Artist Liaison Manager. He sort of organised the entire process, and a few of us were assigned to different groups for different artists.
For me, I was looking after the Show Me the World Symposium and all those artists and Jayachandran Palazhy for Nagarika. So it’s almost like hospitality or service, really. Just trying to make sure they had the best possible experience in the festival and in Singapore.
YS: What was the most difficult part of your job?
AS: I wouldn’t really say anything was that worrying or difficult. I think [it was] keeping track of 15 people… and invariably I think people tend to be late, so just chasing after 15 curators from Southeast Asia and making sure they were all in one place.
YS: Oh yeah, I remember you fanboying over Melati Suryodarmo, “the Butter Dance lady”, on your Facebook wall!
AS: I actually didn’t realise that it was her until I was waiting at the airport for her, and I googled her so I could recognize her when she came through! But she was really easy to get along with, really wonderful. Really sweet woman.
YS: When are you headed back to Australia?
AS: I’m going back on the 23 rd of July, quite soon. At the moment it’s quite up in the air. I’ll probably be looking for an agent in Australia and looking for opportunities in that industry. I’m going back to Perth, but probably not permanenlt.y I’ll probably be there the rest of the year and either move to Melbourne or look into coming back here.
YS: And what were your impressions of The OPEN in general?
AS: I felt that the programming was very interesting, what I was able to see, and that it’s a really good initiative, this sharing of ideas.
And it’s actually really like… the lectures, the talks, the audience, tended to be fairly small and quite specific. It was usually the same sort of people. So I guess it would be interesting to further the audience, to shift or network outwards in the future, to see how it can connect more with the general public.
But I’m not sure. Tanjong Pagar Railway Station had a lot of traffic going through, and the film festival, which I didn’t get to see at all must have had a huge audience. Just not a lot of interaction between the theatre audience, the dance audience and the film audience. Maybe there could have been more crossover.