W!LD RICE unveiled its plans for the fifth Singapore Theatre Festival (STF), a month-long event dedicated to celebrating new local writing. At a time when the nation is poised between its storied past and the uncertain future, the Festival presents eight of the most exciting, ambitious and thought-provoking new plays that have been written in and about today’s Singapore.
From 30 June to 24 July, the STF will transform LASALLE College of the Arts into a buzzing hub of activity. Throughout the Festival, audiences will have their pick of a diverse line-up of hilarious, heartbreaking, witty and whimsical works created by some of Singapore’s most exciting and innovative theatre-makers.
Featuring the work of 9 Playwrights, 8 Directors and 4 Companies, the plays tell stories of contemporary Singapore and give voice to people from all walks of life: from the young and the old, to minorities and the marginalised, including members of the LGBT, Teochew and motorbiking communities. The plays also span a range of genres and forms, encompassing written and devised works as well as verbatim theatre. From the disarmingly intimate to the startlingly epic, these plays will open your eyes, touch your hearts and blow your minds.
The cornerstone production of the Festival will be HOTEL, an epic odyssey through a hundred years of Singapore’s history that was presented at the 2015 Singapore International Festival of Arts. Proclaimed an “instant classic” by The Straits Times (ST), W!LD RICE’s electrifying production follows the guests, staff and ghosts of an iconic HOTEL in Singapore through a century of social and political change. Directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei and written by Alfian Sa’at and Marcia Vanderstraaten, the production was recently nominated for seven ST Life! Theatre Awards, including Best Direction, Best Original Script and Production of the Year.
As part of the STF’s ongoing commitment to discovering new talent, the season will feature brand-new plays by first-time playwrights – Helmi Yusof’s My Mother Buys Condoms is a heartfelt romantic comedy that puts a cheeky spin on active ageing; and Nessa Anwar’s Riders Know When It’s Gonna Rain takes audiences on an exhilarating ride through the adventures and friendships shared by members of Singapore’s motorbiking community. Thomas Lim’s Grandmother Tongue also makes its world premiere during the Festival; the play examines the ways in which the concepts of family and identity get lost in translation when younger generations can no longer speak the languages of their forebears.
The Festival will also feature re-worked productions of recently staged plays. Rodney Oliveiro’s Geylang, created in collaboration with young & W!LD, lifts the lid on the past, present and future of Singapore’s most colourful and notorious district. Johnny Jon Jon’s Hawa teases out the conflicts between faith and sexuality when an unconventional love story comes to a premature end. Kenneth Chia and Mark Ng’s Let’s Get Back Together uses the heartfelt testimony of LGBT individuals in Singapore to provide eye-opening insights into their trials and tribulations. Last but not least, Alfian Sa’at’s GRC (Geng Rebut Cabinet) unearths some uncomfortable truths in a topsy-turvy political landscape in which Malays form the majority of the population, and was recently nominated for three ST Life! Theatre Awards (Best Original Script, Best Actor, Best Actress).
Recognising that theatre does not begin or end with the rise and fall of the curtain, a programme of FEST!VITIES at LASALLE’s Lowercase Café has been planned. The Art & Life Sessions will feature prominent public personalities reflecting on the issues of the day in a series of lively forums that are free to the public. Audiences can also kick back and relax in the Festival Club with Drag Attack!, Songs of Protest and Stand Up for Singapore, a late-night programme that shines a spotlight on emerging and established talents in the respective fields of drag, music and stand-up comedy.
Tickets to the Singapore Theatre Festival go on sale on SISTIC from 18 April 2016. Visit http://www.singaporetheatrefestival.com for more details!