As the COVID-19 pandemic compels everyone to recalibrate their plans, rather than putting their season on hold, Checkpoint Theatre opts to tease their audience by reconceiving some of their shows as audio experiences.
A Grand Design was supposed to be a lecture-performance held at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum as Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips educates and regales some of her experiences as an environmentalist and educator.
In this audio experience, sound designer Shah Tahir compensates for the lack of physical exhibits that we would have experienced in the museum by immersing us in his soundscapes. He plunges us into the depths of the ocean or plonks us amidst excited children as we look at orangutans with our minds’ eye. This is a nice contrast to the concrete jungle that one faces due to the current situation.
Phillips’s musings about the odd encounters when educating people about nature, or what drew her to environmental studies are entertaining and educational. She manages to go into some technical detail without turning someone like me, with very little science background, off.
But what makes this experience valuable are the surprisingly profound insights that one gains from her observations. In the last segment, what starts off as an explanation of a well-known event unexpectedly evolved into a meditation of life, survival, existence, and death.
Coïncidentally, it started to rain outside towards the last few minutes of my audio experience. Clearly, nature had to get in on the action and add its finishing touches to a well-designed experience.
There will be a live staging of A Grand Design in the near future. Please check Checkpoint Theatre’s website and their social media for updates.