Samantha Scott-Blackhall, who directs Sing’Theatre’s 8 Women, answered some questions about this new production.
Why did you choose to stage 8 Women ?
When our artistic director Nathalie Ribette proposed it to me, I had heard of the film but was unaware it was based on a play. I read the play and watched the film before deciding on the basis of my own reaction. I was hooked! It’s a murder-mystery-comedy that keeps you guessing right until the very last minute. Not only is someone guilty of murdering the man of the house, but everyone else has a guilty secret up their sleeve, too.
Can you tell me about your directorial background?
After studying for a BA in Theatre Direction at Flinders University in Adelaide, I returned to Singapore to pursue my passion for theatre. Since then I’ve directed professionally for 12 years, covering all genres: epic dramas, dark thrillers, comedy, theatre-magic and intimate drama. But any play that analyses the darker side of human nature really gets my attention.
Have you localised the play with characters or references for a Singapore audience?
I haven’t. Rather, I’ve kept the 1950s setting and relocated our Singaporean-French family to France. However, there are two characters whom I’ve chosen to fiercely retain their own heritage: the grandmother, played by well-known local actress Neo Swee Lin; and the devoted nanny, played by a very familiar face, Daisy Irani. It seems natural that an older generation sees an importance in cherishing their roots, whereas the younger generation tends to adapt very easily.
Set as it is in 1950s France, what makes it relevant to Singapore in 2013?
The play speaks a lot about social values, “saving face” and what it takes to be “devoted”. It seems people in the fifties had a lot more secrets than they do now (or else they didn’t have therapists!), so we see a lot of the women trying hard to hide their dirty secrets. Besides this, it’s very entertaining; a sort of Cluedo meets CSI!
Are there any males in the cast?
There are absolutely no men in this cast, which is a terribly scary thing for me. I’m accustomed to directing all-male casts, or at least having a good balance of hormones when working with both men and women. Now it’s just oestrogen in a room filled with eight women, all of whom have their own opinion and something to say!
Is it a comedy, a thriller or a drama, or a combination of these?
The strength of the play, in my opinion, lies in it being a murder-mystery-comedy. There is a very dark side to both its subject (murder) and its plot, while at the same time the eight women, in trying to keep the situation in order, do the most ridiculous things! Things go from bad to worse as they start to accuse each other of the murder. And the mystery is: who did it?