It is perhaps playwright Goh Boon Teck’s greatest oeuvre and his most personal.
‘Titoudao’, which runs from 5 to 15 March 2015 at the Drama Centre, is the story of Goh’s own mother, Oon Ah Chiam, and her rise to stardom in the stage art of wayang.
Goh told inSing: “The story resonates with people. It is not easy to survive and to pursue your dreams. ‘Titoudao’ is about how you can achieve your dreams whatever the odds.
“It is also a human story. It touches people because the story is about a petite girl who people didn’t think will make it in life. She has this fighting spirit and believed in herself.”
Presented by Toy Factory, ‘Titoudao’ was first staged in 1994 by the then-fledgling playwright. It has since been restaged five times and has been shown in Cairo, Shanghai and Beijing. The play also celebrates the 25th anniversary of Toy Factory, which was founded by Goh when he was 19.
Goh said: “’Titoudao’ is Toy Factory and Toy Factory is ‘Titoudao’. I didn’t know that it would be so well-received. I’m glad to be able to present the show to a new audience.
“It is fitting that we present our proudest baby, precious child and best creation to celebrate our 25th year.”
Performed in Hokkien and English, it also contains a play-within-a play of the same name, where ‘Titoudao’ is a once-popular Hokkien opera and the title character is a loyal servant who restores his family’s name and fortunes.
The cast of 'Titoudao' at a rehearsal | Photo: Zaki Jufri
This play will be the the first of three big productions by Toy Factory this year. In June, the company will be staging a show about Singapore’s Chinese theatre scene for the past 50 years, in collaboration with the Esplanade. They will also be restaging Singapore’s first Chinese musical, 'December Rains', in August.
'Titoudao' stars actress Audrey Luo in the lead role alongside Trey Ho, Timothy Wan, Josephine Tan, Daphne Quah, Rei Poh, Benita Cheng and Trev Neo.
All of the cast will be performing an average of eight to 10 characters in the production.
PRESERVING AN ART FORM
The main genesis of ‘Titoudao’ was Goh’s desire to preserve and conserve the legacy of the dying Chinese opera art form.
“We are always looking for new things. New is good but we also shouldn’t forget about our traditions especially the arts,” the multi-talented playwright director and designer said.
Goh’s mother Oon helped the cast in the finer points of opera singing.
Chinese opera veteran Christopher Choo is the production’s opera coach.
Choo said: “It has always been my mission to promote Chinese opera to the next generation. During the 19th century, Chinese opera was a mainstream form of entertainment; I want to reintroduce this aspect to the public as well as sow the seeds for the contemporary artistes so that they will know more about this beautiful traditional art form.”
Goh agreed: “We have to keep the wayang going.”
Actor Rei Poh said: “Although it is a show based on traditional Chinese opera, we will reinvent it and give it our own spin.”
Date: 5-15 March 2015 | Time: 3pm, 8pm | Venue: Drama Centre, Level 3, National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street | Tickets: $49, $59, $69 from Sistic