Gateway Theatre presents its first commissioned production since 2019 with Happy Place, a satirical play that delves into the impact of modern media on our perceptions of society. Award-winning multi-hyphenate Jo Tan, known for her lead role in the internationally featured movie Tiong Bahru Social Club and her recent rise as the latest Dim Sum Dolly, wrote, produced, and acted in this production.

Happy Place will be held at the Black Box in Gateway Theatre from 4 to 7 May 2023, and it pits the illusory joy of frivolous entertainment against the solemnity of everyday news in an increasingly tumultuous world. The original production centres around a fictional morning radio show called ‘The Happy Place on One One Oh Point Oh’. Val, one-half of the deejay-duo on the radio show, interviews Estee, an Instagram political poet who went viral among social media users in Singapore. The interview starts as a friendly chat but soon spirals into a heated and emotional debate on their significance and place in society. However, they avoid discussing the bigger issues surrounding the outside world—the whereabouts of the deejay’s absent partner and the mysterious cataclysm that unravels beyond the walls of their tiny studio.

The play explores the appetite of the masses for good news, its stomach for bad news, and the necessity of emollient in-betweens to inspire hope and change. Happy Place takes a satirical look at the world in which we live, laughs at its ironies and makes us cringe at its absurdities.

Priscilla Khong-Espinosa, Executive Director of Gateway Theatre, hopes that this meaningful local production, created in collaboration with Jo, will provide the audience with an alternative viewpoint to mass media, sparking debates that eventually lead to a more balanced attitude and approach to the information out there.

Jo Tan, the producer, writer, and lead actor of Happy Place, believes that modern media is a bundle of contradictions. She says, “It can bombard us with news of conflict, disaster, and social issues, but also provides easy feel-good distractions from them. I do believe there is a place for both of these—getting people to confront stark truths, as well as providing necessary escapes from life. And I hope this play can perform the same double duty — encouraging us to consider the effect of what we put into and consume from the media space; while concurrently being an entertaining and (at points) pretty funny show.”

The two-time Life! Theatre Award Winner stars alongside established actors Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai and Jamil Schulze. The play is also directed by theatre veteran Chong Tze Chien, who is himself an award-winning playwright, director, and arts educator.

“This is ultimately a play about friendship. Alternating between reminiscing the good old days and crossing swords with each other, trading barbs as media personalities, the two friends inevitably reopen the old wounds that have derailed their friendship. As they are cleaning out the skeletons in the closet, the world outside the radio station is caught in the throes of a fiery cataclysm. I think many of us find that it is our friends who we count on in an increasingly unsettling world, and the play sheds light on that,” comments Tze Chien.

Happy Place will premiere at the Gateway Theatre (Black Box) on 4 May 2023. Tickets are priced from $20 to $38 (excluding the booking fee) and sold through Bookmyshow. Don’t miss this opportunity to watch a satirical play that challenges our perception of the media and the world around us.

Leave a Reply