Need to fill up your artsy calendar? From stand-up comedy to outdoor theatre, here are a bunch of theatre companies in Singapore that you should keep track of
Shakespeare may have proclaimed that all the world’s a stage, but in our opinion, you don’t have to look beyond borders to find the finest talent in theatre. While Singaporean theatre enthusiasts might already be familiar with these names, it’s time for those who are unaware to get acquainted with these homegrown theatre production houses, responsible for adding colours to our everyday lives through their assortment of mind-blowing and creative work on stage. From comedy to drama, these are 12 local theatre groups in Singapore you need to know.
The ones who organise Shakespeare in the Park: Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT)
Experience a mix of Broadway, the West End, and the richness of Singaporean culture at this local culture veteran. Recognised as one of Asia’s leading English-language theatres, Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) is known for staging highly popular and critically acclaimed productions such as the famous Shakespeare in the Park series, and Spider Woman, which stars local and regional performers.
The ones with thought-provoking family-friendly plays: PANGDEMONiUM!
Helmed by Artistic Directors Adrian Pang (also a prolific local actor) and his lovely wife, Tracie Pang, Pangdemonium hopes to provide theatre aficionados accessible, relevant, and most importantly, inspiring English-language works, without compromising on artistic and entertainment appeal. Pangdemonium is also known for its offerings of thought-provoking family-friendly plays. Some of Pangdemonium’s memorable productions that have touched many hearts include Spring Awakening, Rabbit Hole, Next to Normal and Chinglish. And we’re also pretty darn excited for its rendition of the famous musical, Rent, this coming October.
The ones with local flavours: W!LD RICE
Established in 2000 by Ivan Heng, an internationally acclaimed and award-winning theatre practitioner, W!LD RICE is seen today as one of Singapore’s leading professional theatre companies. W!LD RICE typically offers productions that provide an open forum for the shared experience of theatre, commemorate diversity, and reflect on the issues of today’s society. W!LD RICE shows usually has a local touch to them.
The ones that question current-day politics: The Necessary Stage
Led by 2014 Cultural Medallion recipient, Artistic Director Alvin Tan, The Necessary Stage (TNS) is a non-profit theatre company with charity status. Since its establishment, The Necessary Stage has successfully created challenging, indigenous and innovative theatre that tugs at our heartstrings. They’re also the ones responsible for curating the annual M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, that’s usually decked out with a line-up of vibrant theatre productions.
The ones who give budding playwright a chance: Buds Theatre Company
Founded in 2007, Buds Theatre Company was formed as a not-for-profit group to offer a platform for young theatre graduates to practise their craft and hone their skills. You can expect Buds to produce a minimum of three plays annually – with a focus on YOUNG and RELEVANT theatre pieces that are no more than 10 years of age and of international standing. Some of Buds Theatre Company brilliant productions include their Going Local series, Cock (2012) and Pigeons (2015).
The ones with best theatrical effects: Cake Theatrical Productions
Steered by one of Singapore’s well-revered artistic directors, Natalie Hennedige, Cake Theatrical Productions (Cake) is a contemporary theatre company dedicated to crafting original works by allowing bold experimentation that deviates away from conventional theatre practices. Simply means that If you’re looking for a show with unique delivery of text and mesmerising theatrical effects, Cake’s productions will not disappoint you. In fact, we’re certain it’ll keep you on the edge of your seats throughout its shows.
The ones with the funniest comedies: The Dream Academy Productions
Founded by well-known Singaporean actress, Selena Tan (you may know her as a Dim Sum Dolly), in 2000, Dream Academy Productions is a self-sustaining independent arts and entertainment company in Singapore. Dream Academy is funded almost entirely by ticket sales from audience members and its loyal supporters. Dream Academy is also known to dish out uber hilarious stand-up comedies – Maybe Knot, Wanton Me, and Revenge of the Dim Sum Dollies, just to name a few! When it comes to sidesplitting jokes, this one trumps the competition.
The ones with various forms of theatre productions: Checkpoint Theatre
Established in 2002 in Singapore, Checkpoint Theatre was founded by two brilliant artistic directors in the local theatre scene: Claire Wong and Huzir Sulaiman. Creating contemporary Asian plays that aims to inspire and challenge both local and international audiences, Checkpoint Theatre will bring you a slew of engaging productions that come in various themes and forms – from socio-political satire and explorations of history and memory, to rapid-fire comedy, powerful music and arresting imagery.
The ones with eye-opening interdisciplinary performances: TheatreWorks
Formed in 1985, TheatreWorks is an independent and international performance company that’s one of the most esteemed in Singapore. Led by Artistic Director, Ong Keng Sen and Managing Director, Tay Tong, TheatreWorks has staged over 200 productions and 2,500 performances in Singapore and overseas, attanining an audienceship of over a million. Today, TheatreWorks is tucked away at a beautiful heritage building named 72-13, that was once a rice warehouse on Mohamed Sultan Road and next to the Singapore River.
The ones who put up Chinese productions: Nine Years Theatre
If you’re a fan of Chinese theatre, add Nine Years Theatre to your list. Co-founded by Nelson Chia (Artistic Director) and Mia Chee (Company Director), this Singapore Mandarin theatre company does not limit its range of productions by genre and scale. Nine Years Theatre typically produces actor-centred productions that focus heavily on how actors can affects the flow of production, and also shows that confront the existing state of the Mandarin theatre.
The ones that offer something French: Sing’theatre
Whether you are a closet Francophile or proud to be one, Sing’theatre might pique your interest. Founded by Nathalie Ribette in 2006, Sing’theatre is a non-profit professional Singaporean theatre company with a French twist. With its aim to promote cultural exchange, Sing’theatre creates productions by drawing inspirations from French cultural heritage – introducing the audiences to French music, French tales and many more. Since its establishment, Sing’theatre has put up productions featuring iconic French and European singers, with plays and musicals written in Singapore.
The ones that mix food with theatre and arts: AND SO FORTH
While not exactly a theatre company, AND SO FORTH’s interactive events are definitely affairs you should put on your checklist. Inspired by the fascinating dining sub-culture in London, AND SO FORTH wishes to introduce Singapore to pop-up restaurants that specialise in marrying art with dining. Imagine having a theatrical feast, where anything can happen. You might even end up playing the lead!
The ones that make improv fun: The Improv Company
Imagine a crossover between “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and theatre productions… sounds like your cup of tea? Aspiring quick-quippers can have a dig at improv and polish any existing skills with Singapore’s biggest improv theatre company. Besides providing you with the tools, tips and tricks to unleash your inner Amy Poehler, The Improv Company also produces regular shows, and even hosted Singapore’s first sold-out improv festival in 2016. You’re definitely in good hands with these pros!
The ones that think out of the box: Sight Lines Entertainment
If you’re looking for one with a lot of pizzazz, Slight Lines Entertainment’s your best bet. The bold, imaginative theatre company not only brings excitement and challenges perspectives in its productions, but it also nurtures budding artists and theatre practitioners by providing them a platform to produce quality, out-of-the-box creations. Works include re-imaginations and re-interpretations of existing texts.
The ones that give live to puppets: The Finger Players
Catering to both adults and youths, The Finger Players fuse puppet theatre and other art disciplines for an entertaining hybrid like no other. The company’s unique theatre style is evident in its 16 multidisciplinary productions, winning accolades like the Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards and a President’s Design Award from the Design Singapore Council – impressive! Time to flex those fingers for some puppetry fun.
The ones who are magnificently bilingual: Toy Factory
Another puppet theatre gem, the Toy Factory seeks to push boundaries by creating unique, bilingual productions, inspiring fellow artists and fans alike. This leading bilingual theatre company is constantly pushing the envelope by creating innovative works of theatre that are more than just pure entertainment, engaging with local and international audiences.