The Importance Of Being Earnest. Photo: Wild Rice
A new season of shows is opening in theatres in Singapore and it is all about adaptation of overseas work with plays and musicals coming from the West and Taiwan.
'Venus in Fur' cast Steffanie Leigh and Anson Mount. Photo: SRT
Kicking off Singapore Repertory Theatre’s 20th Anniversary Season is ‘Venus in Fur’at the DBS Arts Centre (15-30 Mar | DBS Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Road | $30 from Sistic). David Ives’ kinky ‘Venus in Fur’ is adapted from a novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose name inspired the term masochism.
A story about a mysterious actress showing up very late to an audition for an impatient playwright-director promises to have some sassy moments as well as many erotically-charged moments.
Indonesian New-York based director, Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, tells inSing, “Jumping nimbly from sex farce to erotic mystery to revenge thriller, ‘Venus in Fur’ is the ultimate stand-off between a man and a woman for control of each other.”
He also adds that despite the masochistic innuendos this play has little to do with ‘50 Shades of Grey’. It is all about the psychology of power struggles between Thomas (Anson Mount) and Vanda (Steffanie Leigh), the two characters in the play. “Who wants what, what's stopping them, and what they are willing to do to get it – power play is the fuel for all sex,” Iskandar states.
Also from SRT is an exceptional classic, ‘Othello’(24 Apr-19 May | Fort Canning Park | $45 from Sistic), part of the theatre company’s Shakespeare in the Park season.
'Othello'. Photo: SRT
Directed by Bruce Guthrie, an upcoming Scottish star who has been heralded as the new Sam Mendes ever since he worked with Mendes himself on ‘Richard III’ back in 2011.
Working with Singaporean musical arranger, Ruth Ling, Guthrie promises that there will not be many changes from the original.
‘Othello’, one of the greatest tragedies of all times in an open-air theatre is a cultural and theatrical experience that should not be missed.
Another theatrical classic ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest’by Oscar Wilde, (10 Apr-4 May | DramaCentreTheatre, National Library, 100 Victoria Street | $40-75 from Sistic ) will be staged by internationally acclaimed Wild Rice.
A comedy masterpiece, the play is the quintessentially Victorian story of love and deception, with distinctive English humor: Jack has made up an imaginary brother, Ernest, which becomes his excuse to escape to the city, and to visit his beloved Gwendolyn. Yet his best friend Algernon also decides to take the name 'Ernest' to court Jack's beautiful ward, Cecily, in the country.
Winner of three Life! Awards in 2010 for production, supporting actor and best costume, this production is directed byGlen Goei.
The T'ang Quartet in 'The Importance Of Being Earnest'. Photo: Wild Rice
With very few changes from the original 2009 cast, the production is truly an international collaboration of talents: Singapore’s most acclaimed actors include Ivan Heng, Hossan Leong, Chua Enlai, Brendon Fernandez and Crispian Chan return, and are joined again by Daniel York from London and Gavin Yap from Kuala Lumpur. A new addition will be Lim Kay Siu who replaces Zahim Albakri as Rev. Canon Chasuble.
With a strong musical element this time round, the show introduces to the theatre scene The Ensemble Dimension Players, a quartet brought together under the T’ang Quartet’s The Ensemble Dimension Project.
Goei feels strongly that Singaporean audiences will warm up to this timely and masterful comedy of errors. “The play is about the superficialities and hypocrisy of the middle classes which is as relevant in 21st century Singapore as it was in 19th century Britain,” he explains.
Moving from England back to Asia, we find a popular hit coming from Taiwan, ‘Glass Anatomy’,(3-12 May | Esplanade Theatre | From $69 from Sistic) based on the award-winning Taiwanese movie, ‘Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing’. It is the heart-warming story of Ah Mei, an orphan raised by Uncle Ya, a mute rag-and-bone man who found her as her infant in the street. Teaching kinship, the story shows Ah Mei who as an adult becomes a famous singer, leaving behind her beloved adoptive father, friends and the people she love.
'Glass Anatomy' trailer
Ah Mei is played by Asia’s chart-topping Mandopop Queen Della Ding Dang, whose life resonates with the one from her character; Della left mainland China for Taiwan when she was 18 to seek fame and success.
Other stars in the team areaward-winning music composer Elaine Chan (music director and conductor) and music arranger and composer Benny Wong.
Director and playwrightGoh Boon Teck is really excited about his upcoming production. “This is a devoted production brewed over a long period of time with an enormous amount of passion, endless painstaking approaches, sweat and blood of many committed souls. It will be a production we hope all Asians will be proud of,” he enthuses.
This stands for the Singaporean theater this spring, something we should all be very proud of – indeed a city with a touch of the world.
Writer, theatre and fiction critic, researcher and academic, Mary Mazzilli started writing plays in 2001, training first at Soho Theatre and then at the Royal Court. Her most recent play 'Magical Chairs' has been staged at the Southwark Playhouse and at People's Theatre as part of the Beijing International Fringe Festival (2011). She shares her writing career with an academic interest in literature; she holds a PhD in Chinese and Comparative Literature at SOAS, London on Gao Xingjian and Martin Crimp’s plays and has lectured in Chinese Theatre and Films at SOAS. She is currently a Research Associate at NTU as well as a contributor to The Times Literary Supplement, Theatre Voice, What's on Stage, OneStopArts and inSing.com