In this feature, I interview Gloria Tan and Adib Kosnan, each directing a one-act play in a collection of 4 presented by Buds Theatre Company.
Buds Theatre Company has been established for more than half a decade in Singapore, and is a not-for-profit group that provides young theatre practitioners with a professional platform to hone their craft. In a year when the National Arts Council of Singapore has signaled their enthusiasm for the arts by upping the funding of arts groups by nearly thirty per cent, groups like Buds have come into the fore for putting up productions that showcase emerging amateurs alongside professionals.
In “Going Local 3” by Buds, 4 short one-act plays directed by different directors will share the same Drama Centre Black Box stage. The content of these plays will delve into current local issues, ranging from coming out as a homosexual, living in an HDB flat with a hoarder, a family at breaking point, and the dilemmas faced by a returning Oxford graduate. All plays are completely original works by playwrights Joel Tan (Walking In), Mohammad Aminuddin bin Abdul Rahman (Space), Renee Yeong (Gutter), and Kenneth Kwok (The Promise of James Toh Han Meng). Some of the playwrights graduated from Buds Youth Theatre programme, aimed at providing free drama training for people aged 14 – 24 years.
Gloria Tan, a full-time freelance theatre practitioner directing “Walking In”, said that the play will be a high energy, light-hearted and comedic one. The lead character is a 28-year-old male coming out as a homosexual to his family, who have decided to throw a huge party in celebration. Religion does get in the way, as one of the character’s aunts is a conservative Christian. Strong writing, fights and bold colours will feature in this play. What is creative is the set given the constraints – the stage is cut into three, where stage left is a gay bar, the middle is the lead character’s house and the stage right is the inside of a bus. The actors will bend the rules a little by walking across the scenes. Acting-wise, Tan tells us to look out for Daisy Yeo and Gladys Tan from The Necessary Stage’s Theatre for Seniors.
Adib Kosnan, a full-time theatre practitioner who has been acting with Theatre Kami, let on that the play he is directing is a reflective one. “Space” is about a big Malay family grappling with the lack of space in a 4-room flat where their father is a hoarder. Kosnan said that Amin wrote the play as a social commentary and reflection on the society he knows. It will be a play about how one person’s actions can affect the whole family, and how each family member in the all-Malay cast struggles to find their own space. In exploring the concept of space and territory, Kosnan said that he tried his best to make sure no actor or actress left the stage. Since space is so precious and sought after in the play, the actors and actresses will embrace and conquer the whole space when they are onstage. Space will almost become a character in itself.
With a very varied range of subject-matter in the plays, one wonders whether the lack of focus detracts from the sampling of originality and talent which will be highlighted. Nevertheless, the dedication to current and local issues will certainly make the plays ones to watch, given that a great number of the notable theatre fare in Singapore today are written by non-Singaporeans.
Going Local 3 is playing at the National Library Building, Drama Centre, Black Box from 30 May 2013 – 2 June 2013, 8 pm (with a 3pm Saturday matinee). Tickets from http://www.apesnap.com/event/GL3.