Preview Guide

Playing dress-up

By Deborah GiamEvents - 20 May 2010 9:00 AM | Updated 16 September 2010

Playing dress-up

Based on the famed Buddhist fable about monk Maha Moggallana, the play of the same name explores his journey of discovery, redemption and englightenment.

Written by award-winning Singapore playwright and director Goh Boon Teck, it also stars Emma Yong, Darius Tan and Sugie. This unique play includes more than 150 outstanding costumes made by renowned Bangkok designers Tube Gallery.

Saksit Pisalasupongs, designer from Tube Gallery, gave us an insight into the visually spectacular costumes for Maha Moggallana.

Both of you have very interesting backgrounds - Saksit, although you did a master in theatre directing, your degree was in something totally non-theatre or fashion. Phisit, you studied dance, fine and applied arts. How did the two of you come to work together, and become involved in fashion?

Phisit and I have been friends since we were 11. We went to the same school and university. At school, we both had the same interest in many things. However, the strongest passions we both share were in fashion and performing arts. While Phisit chose to pursue his early career as a professional dancer, I went to London to make my theatre directing degree. That was after trying to make a decision between theatre and fashion.  

Phisit's mom is a dress maker, who is now our head pattern designer. Through watching his mom work since he was young, his fashion skill comes to him naturally. As for me, I have been involved with the fashion scene in Thailand even before I went to London, as a fashion show producer. So, when I came back from London, Phisit had already entered the fashion business and started Tube (the original name of the brand) for a year. He asked me to join him to build the brand. My plan was to earn a stable income which would have allowed me to work in Theatre comfortably. That was ten years ago, and I have not done much theatre directing since!

Do you find it's very different designing for fashion and designing for stage?

Our background is in performing arts. At the same time, our fashion is also quite dramatic. So, it’s quite natural for us to work in both areas. As a fashion designer you create designs that you would like to see on people. It is your own world you build and offer it to the rest of the world. However, as a costume designer, you build a world with the others. You offer your creativity to the team. You design to be a part of the show, not to be the show yourself.


What were some of the challenges you had working on the costumes for Maha Moggallana?

The main challenge was the distance. However, with Toy Factory and their team, they have made that a non-issue. Thanks also to the Wardrobe Mistress Theresa Chan and her team.

The other challenge would be the difference in our culture and beliefs. Though Singapore and Thailand are very close and this musical is based on a Buddhist fable, we are not familiar with the story. So when you design the costumes for a story that is widely known, especially a well-known fable, you need to understand what images people already have in their heads. For example, if we talk about the Piety Ghost, the Thai version and the Singapore version might look totally different. You need to understand these versions and transform them into the costumes that incorporate your own creativity as well. This is quite a challenge.


How long did the whole process take - from conceptualising to designing and producing the costumes?

Four months.


Which piece are you most proud of, from the play?

We like them all. However, we love the Mother Birds and Baby Birds. It would be more fun for us, as the designer, to have more female costumes, but we are very happy with what we have for Liu Qing Ti as well.


Catch Maha Moggallana on May 28 and 29 at the Singapore Expo. For more details, click here.