ImagiNATION Season 2015 by W!ld Rice

W!LD RICE, Singapore’s leading professional theatre company, celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2015. To mark this milestone, which coincides with Singapore’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the company will present ‘imagiNATION’, a season of five exciting new productions inspired by the stars of the Singapore flag.


Illuminating and reflecting the ideas of democracy, peace, progress, equality and justice, the productions will include:


• Public Enemy, an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's powerful and timely classic, directed by Glen Goei and starring Ivan Heng and Lim Kay Siu, which will challenge the easy assumptions associated with DEMOCRACY;

• Another Country, a Singapore-Malaysia co-production that brings together the finest writers and performers from both sides of the Causeway to reflect on the history, culture and PEACE shared by two countries that were separated at birth;

• Hotel, a stirring epic that observes Singapore's PROGRESS through the prism of one hotel room and its inhabitants over the past ten decades, A Singapore International Festival of Arts commission, this production is written by Alfian Sa'at and directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei;

• The Emperor's New Clothes, a brand-new pantomime directed by Pam Oei and scripted by Joel Tan, that adds a cheeky local twist to Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale about EQUALITY; and

• A new production - presently a production a work in progress - examining the concept of JUSTICE.


W!LD RICE's ‘imagiNATION’ season runs from April 2015 to April 2016. 


In keen anticipation of 'Public Enemy', we interview director Glen Goei, Ivan Heng & Lim Kay Siu who play the brothers in conflict: Dr Thomas Chee & the town mayor. We also took the opportunity to find out about their thoughts on theatre in general.


Q&A with Glen Goei 

Glen Goei


Q: What was the most memorable event in your involvement with W!ld Rice for the past 15 years?

A: That's a big question, there are so many. I think that would be my production of “Emily of Emerald Hill” by Stella Kon. When I first saw the play in 1986, it made me realise the power of theatre & want to be a theatre practitioner. And I eventually got to direct it, working with my partner in crime - Ivan. That play was such a significant event for me. It was staged at the Esplanade & it was a large audience.


Q: Who is / are your favourite playwright/s?

A: (Henrik) Ibsen is high on the list with Oscar Wilde, Chekhov & George Bernard Shaw.


Q: Which is your favourite music genre?

A: “Jazz” as in Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra & Nina Simone.


Q: What inspired the choice of the play script written by Henrik Ibsen in a version by David Harrower?

A: This play, I feel, has a lot of relevance to Singapore, and to our local audiences today; it questions our concept of democracy & what preconceived notions we have of democracy & the responsibility of the majority in a democracy.


Q: What are the tension & conflict between the characters, in particular the brothers played by Ivan & Kay Siu?

A: In this case, the brothers already have that built-in tension from sibling rivalry that exists in any family context. There's conflict because they represent both ends of the spectrum; introvert vs extrovert, traditionalist vs liberal, conservative vs modern. One wanted to tell the truth; the other wanted to keep the truth.


Q&A with Ivan Heng

Ivan Heng


Q: With 5 productions this year, what would you like to achieve in 2015?

A: 5 productions, and 2 more by the Young & W!ld company. We wanted to do something interesting for SG50 & we wondered how we could create a season that's meaningful & represents what our hopes & dreams are. It's probably our most ambitious, thought-provoking & exciting season, to date. I guess, we're really pushing the envelope & challenging basic assumptions.


Q: What are the past milestones and what plans do you have for the company in the roadmap of the next 5 years?

A: Continue to survive & excel. Being a theatre company is not easy, but I'm proud to have a very loyal & enthusiastic following. We will continue to convey meaning through conversation, put ourselves & our stories on stage. Cardinal rule is to never bore an audience. We also have productions that have become part of our repertoire, like Singapore Theatre Festival, our year-end pantomime; all these have become part of the local cultural landscape. We set ourselves out to be the best theatre company that we can be.


Q: How do you think the local performing arts scene can evolve and grow in the near future?

A: I think we have a vibrant diverse arts scene in Singapore, compared to when I first started decades ago. I must give credit where it's due. The government has done great job in supporting all arts forms: performing arts, visual arts, literary arts. It's very positive. How to improve? I think we need more space, more trust; the rules of censorship can be relaxed & we can then fulfill the full potential of being a forum for the community: like a town hall, where you can reflect on the problems as well as the possibilities of our time. We need new blood; young people to step up to the plate. I would like the new theatre companies to burgeon & flourish.


Q&A with Lim Kay Siu  

Lim Kay Siu


Q: Which of the acting roles you played do you find the most challenging?

A: As I get older, I play more powerful, older men, I guess. As far as the character goes, this role in Public Enemy is really quite challenging. I've never really like bullies & bossy people. This character is quite sneaky, telling half-truths to get his own way & manipulate other people. I'm playing the part of the type of person that I distrust naturally, in this role.


Q: Any advice for those who might be interested to pursue a career in performing arts?

A: Oh, go for it if you love it! And if you feel like you've got something to say, theatre is thought-provoking, like a mirror to reality. It's also entertaining, and people are obviously not in it for the money or fame, it's the passion that drives them.


Q: Who are your favourite international performing artistes?

A: I've always appreciated these theatrical performers from Theatre de Complicite. They do Shakespeare & naturalistic plays but they have many forms of presentation, from acrobatics to musical instruments. Quite a few English stage actresses have multiple skills, like Kathryn Hunter who's a contortionist.


Q: What do you like most about “live” performances?

A: I've always loved “live” theatre. It's magic 'cos it'll never be repeated. We've got a charge on the first night, which is special, or the work that's improved over time, based on what the actors give one another, it practically evolves to the last night.


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