Founding artistic director of Wild Rice
The theatre isn’t a niche or fringe interest; nor is it an art form that can only be enjoyed and appreciated by certain groups or classes of people. The theatre is for everyone.
Tell us your story, how did you get here?
Since I was a child, I’ve always felt the need to express myself. Through school and university, I performed in plays, singing and dancing at every opportunity I could. The theatre was where I found a sense of community – a place I felt truly understood and accepted, a place I could call home. It was also where I realised I could make a difference. And here I am, decades later. The theatre has been my life’s work, and I couldn’t be more proud.
What impact have you made in Singapore?
While I will leave the assessment of my own personal body of work and legacy for future generations to determine, I count our theatre in Funan as one of Wild Rice’s greatest achievements. It places Singapore theatre quite literally on the map, in the heart of our civic district, in the very centre of town. The theatre isn’t a niche or fringe interest; nor is it an art form that can only be enjoyed and appreciated by certain groups or classes of people. The theatre is for everyone. With the work we do, we’re also consciously bringing together people of all ages and from all walks of life.
What does 2022 look like for you?
Busy! In April, I’m performing in Wild Rice’s new adaptation of “Tartuffe: The Imposter”, Molière’s satirical classic about religious hypocrisy and the dangers of blind devotion. Thereafter, I’ll be directing two original shows that are near and dear to my heart – “Faghag” and “Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita”. All these shows represent Wild Rice at its best: world-class theatre made right here in Singapore, by Singaporeans, for Singaporeans.
What do you love most about Singapore?
The fact that it’s situated at the crossroads of East and West, tradition and modernity. I love our diversity, and the way we have direct access to so many different cultures in our stories and our history.
Tell us about the coolest performance you’ve ever seen.
Two of Kuo Pao Kun’s seminal plays, “Mama Looking For Her Cat” and “The Silly Little Girl and the Funny Old Tree”, had a profound impact on me. I still remember how I felt while watching these plays featuring characters and a Singapore I recognised in my bones and my heart. The way Pao Kun’s plays explore Singapore’s depth, breadth and diversity gave me a sense of the kind of theatre I wanted to make in future.
I’m also constantly inspired by Glen Goei, Wild Rice’s Co-Artistic Director and one of my dearest friends. The first two Wild Rice productions he directed, “Blithe Spirit” and “Boeing Boeing”, inspired me to think about how we could claim these world classics for ourselves, for Singapore.
Who is your Local Legend, and why?
The late, great Kuo Pao Kun was a pioneer of Singapore’s theatre scene, and for good reason. His works are so richly, consciously Singaporean and yet also universal in their themes and social commentary. As a theatre-maker myself, Pao Kun’s works and words inspire me to this day.