Wild Rice has been busy! The popular Singapore theatre company has lined up three plays from August until December 2022. All the productions will be staged at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre at Wild Rice @ Funan. We asked the playwrights, directors and cast of these upcoming plays in Singapore what audiences can expect.
On stage: Animal Farm
From 18 August
Show times: Tuesday to Friday, 7.30pm; Saturday, 2.30pm and 7.30pm; Sunday, 2.30pm; preview 18 & 19 August, 7.30pm
Ticket prices: $30-$80
Local students who studied literature will remember Animal Farm. The novel by George Orwell was a required text in lower secondary. In 2002, Wild Rice premiered an adaptation of this Singapore theatre production, and staged it again eight years later. Their production of the famous political satire has also travelled to arts festivals in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
Now, 20 years after its premiere, Wild Rice’s founding artistic director IVAN HENG shares how the current version, which he’s also directing, has been reimagined for current times.
What makes the 2022 Animal Farm different from previous versions and a must-watch this time?
We thought it was about time to share this classic production with a whole new generation of audiences. With every production of Animal Farm, we ask ourselves how the play speaks to us in the contemporary moment.
Would people who haven’t read the novel have a problem understanding it?
As a literature text in schools, Animal Farm is most often taught as an allegory to the Russian Revolution in 1917. However, it actually contains much more about our human, or, in fact, our animal natures. It explores notions of power, corruption and inequality and will speak to all audiences, whether or not you’ve read Orwell’s classic.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
Animal Farm was first published in 1945, just weeks before the conclusion of World War II. Yet, in our current tumultuous age shaped by unrest, inequity and a literal plague, Animal Farm continues to remind us of the corrupting influence of power and how easily democracies can morph into dictatorships.
On stage: Pulau Ujong / Island At The End
From 15 September
Show times: Tuesday to Friday, 7.30pm; Saturday, 2.30pm and 7.30pm; Sunday, 2.30pm; preview, 15 & 16 September, 7.30pm
Ticket prices: $20-$70
Did you know that Pulau Ujong is one of the oldest recorded names for Singapore? How has our island state changed, structurally and ecologically, since then? Pulau Ujong / Island at the End presents recollections of Singapore as well as wishes for its future from climate scientists, botanists, zoologists, environmental historians and activists. They were interviewed for the original theatre production in Singapore, written by award-winning playwright ALFIAN SA’AT, which will be brought to life on stage by an ensemble cast directed by EDITH PODESTA. Together with performer RYAN ANG, they share their thoughts about this play made for Singapore theatre audiences.
“During COVID, I found myself going on nature trails. I started asking questions about why many of us are so estranged from nature, or think of it as something separate from our lives as something to be managed or exploited. The climate emergency is very present. Freak weather patterns and mass extinctions are already happening, but we’re still operating as if these are events that happen elsewhere, at some other time.
I believe that art can communicate certain things to us that headlines and statistics can’t. I’d like for the audience of Pulau Ujong / Island at the End to re-evaluate their relationship with nature, and to re-enchant themselves with its miracles and mysteries.”
“The back wall of the Wild Rice theatre at Funan is covered in 80-year-old wooden floorboards salvaged from outdoor wayang stages and weathered by the feet of many Chinese Opera performers. Pulau Ujong / Island at the End begins by stripping back the history of this cultural architectural feature to its true origin as a once-thriving tree. So instead of imaginatively moving away from the theatrical space, the audience will be asked to interrogate it and to contemplate the carbon footprint of the theatrical experience.
In this Singapore theatre production, we’re employing the architecture and interior design of the Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre as a ‘set’. We’re not pretending to be anywhere other than the theatre from the outset.”
“Conversations surrounding climate change and conservation often feel overwhelming. As an individual, I can feel helpless or worse, apathetic. This theatre production has helped me delve deeper into these issues and our natural history.
By unpacking this issue and creating art that we can examine together with the audience, we can have necessary conversations in a thought-provoking and entertaining way.”
On stage: Pinocchio
From 17 November
Show times: Tuesday to Friday, 7.30pm; Saturday, 2.30pm and 7.30pm; Sunday, 2.30pm; preview, 17 & 18 November, 7.30pm and 19 November, 2.30pm
Ticket prices: $25-$90
This tale has been used by parents through the ages to warn cheeky children about the consequences of lying. Wild Rice theatre reimagines this familiar tale as an original musical written by THOMAS LIM and directed by PAM OEI. It will include onstage performances by kids from First Stage, Wild Rice’s theatre training and performance programme for children from five to 12 years.
How is this musical different from and yet still the same as the story we know?
Thomas: It’s got all the same things we recognise and know of Pinocchio. There’s the magic, the lying, the growing nose – but with a huge loving dash of Singapore. I’m most looking forward to seeing how the team will make the nose grow live, with no camera tricks!
Pam: It’s a tale about a parent and child and I really relate to that, being the mother of an 11-year-old. I cast Ebi Shankara, who is also a father in real life, to play Geppetto as I think his experience will add much depth to the character.
What are you most looking forward to about directing First Stage kids?
Pam: The audience’s reaction to their cuteness overload! When directing First Stage kids, I like to test their limits. I make them do things out of their comfort zone. Usually, the day they get their costumes and headgear, and they realise they have to sing and dance while wearing these costumes, is when their comfort zone is pushed to the max.
What’s your favourite thing about being in this theatre production of Pinocchio?
Ebi: It’s always great working with an amazing cast and it gets better when they’re your friends. Just being able to play and craft a show with such energy is always amazing. That’s what I love about this production.
Tell us one truth and one lie about yourself!
Ebi: I love rom-coms and eating doughnuts.
Get your tickets for these plays in Singapore
Tickets for all the shows can be purchased from SISTIC. Discounts apply – 20% off Category 1 and 2 tickets for Wild Rice Angels; 10% off for students and senior citizens.
Wild Rice @ Funan
107 North Bridge Road, Level 4
6292 2695 | wildrice.com.sg