MARCO POLO TOUR 2014

Marco Polo Flyer

Synopsis

Marco Polo, tells a story of two blind friends who are reacquainted after death. They quickly discover that they are both still blind and proceed with their attempt to figure out if they ended up in Heaven or Hell. Amidst the uncertainty, they begin to understand what it is to be lonesome, fearful and utterly lost. As the friends try to recapture the emotions invested in the lives of the living and within oneself, they uncover a sense of hope and, above all, love.

Where do we go from here?

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Sometimes it is through blindness that we see more.

Throughout the course of the Marco Polo Tour, the team at TheatreWorks asked our audience members about the performance. The general response was that it was a thought-provoking piece, albeit a bit confusing. Despite it’s absurdist nature, Sean Tobin, the director, believes that there was enough humanity and humor in the piece for the audience to connect with. And they agree.

“There are a lot of comical aspects of the play. Even though the topic it discusses is heavy, it shows it in a very light manner.”

 -Cheryl

“I thought it was quite absurdist at first then I realised that the issues that Jovi wrote actually hit quite close to home, even if it is travelling through communities.”

-Victoria

“It’s good because there was no right or wrong in the play and that’s where we get our freedom to interpret the results.”

-Samantha

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Indeed Marco Polo has received a lot of praise. Now that the tour has come to an end, what can we take away from the performance?

Perhaps it’s the concept of being unafraid of the unknown, not questioning everything that comes our way, living life as a circumstance rather than a structure…etcetera.

One of our audience members goes on to say, “It seems so arbitrary and doesn’t need to have a meaning. I guess ultimately, we don’t need to have meaning in everything. We can just live without knowing things”

That basically is what theatre is about, interpreting, finding new perceptions, freeing the mind. As Jovi has mentioned before, there isn’t a need for big flamboyant language, what is needed is something that everyone can hold on to. Theatre is a medium, maybe even a catalyst. Dr Maliki Osman believes in the benefits of it as a platform for expression.


“It’s good to just give young people that space to express themselves and make meaning for themselves. And for us as the older generation, understand what that meaning means to us.”

-Dr Maliki Osman

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If there was one thing that Jovi wanted the audience to take away from his work it would be the emotions they felt while watching the play.

Honest, poetic and a beautiful presentation of friendship, Marco Polo is truly an excellent piece of writing. It gives those in the theatre scene hope for the next generation of practitioners, and it gives our community so much more to appreciate. The only question left is, where do we go from here?

From the Heart to the Heartlands

Singapore is young compared to her neighbours, and our arts scene is not quite as developed. However, there has been a marked improvement in development over the past 10 years.

Marco Polo is the brainchild of a youth so passionate for the theatre scene. Jovi Tan is one of the many Singaporean youths getting involved in performing arts. As the next generation rises, Singapore needs to gear herself for the artistic boom in the next five years. So how does the theatre adapt and become even more accessible to the community?

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Over the past few shows during the Marco Polo Tour, live interviews with our audiences were conducted to ascertain the state of our art scene. Here is what they had to say.

 

“I think there is a general consensus that local art productions aren’t really on par with overseas. Hopefully this view will change. I think the bias is due to the arts in Singapore developing more now than before as compared to other countries that had their arts scene more developed long ago. Maybe we feel inferior”

 

-Lim Jia Ying, Student

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“I think people are not exposed to local productions, and are under the impression that they might not be as good as the more mainstream ones. If you are exposed to local productions, I believe that impression will change. Personally, I like local productions.”

 

-Janelle Chua, Undergraduate

 

“As Singaporeans, we’d rather not know than know. Certain issues discussed do not sit well because it makes people think while they are trying to avoid thinking. Putting it in their face might make them very upset and invoke a lot of reactions. That’s why it doesn’t sit well. I think we are not ready for the hard truth. We are very cocooned, very sheltered, very spoilt. But that is because we are young and we have not gone through life’s challenges. In part it is not our fault because circumstance does shape a person.”

 

-Jacqueline, audience member

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Conversely, Production Set Designer Fared Jainal does not see a bias against local theatre. He mentions that foreign theatre has its own attracting point because it is a rare find in Singapore. He says,

 

“International acts have their own novelty that has a certain temptation that makes you want to look at them. That doesn’t mean that we are biased against our own art. I think the times have changed. If there is (a bias), then it is very minimal and I would dismiss it. People are more receptive nowadays.”

 

Both Fared and our audience have a point, Singapore is after all still developing. So is there hope for theatre to thrive in our community? Director Sean Tobin believes so.

 

“I believe we are all innately creative and imaginative, and deserve the chance to explore this side of ourselves. We start out as children, learning by playing, by singing, by imagining, pretending, creating. Unfortunately many of us stop this along the way, as we are too busy, or we feel inadequate. I hope Singapore will always have plenty of opportunities for people of all walks of life to engage with artistic expression. It enriches our lives, our hearts, and our imaginations.”

 

-Sean Tobin

 

While theatre can assist in making pressing issues more digestible for the community, the issue at hand is increasing the local consumption of local theatre. Perhaps there is a general bias against our young arts landscape. Marco Polo actor Bright Ong suggests that fear is the main cause for Singaporeans refraining from the arts.

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“There is a lot of fear attached to the arts. A lot of Singaporean fear the fact that, oh you’re going to be an actor, you’re going to be a singer, you’re going to be an artist, how is it a viable career? And yes, there is also the issue of price and cost. People go like “oh, I would rather pay 10 buck to watch Avatar but not 25 bucks to come watch a show at Drama centre or at The Esplanade.” But you know, really, if you think about it, it is not the cost issue the economy issue. It’s really the idea of fear. People are scared that they won’t understand.”

 

-Bright Ong, Actor

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So what can be done to ease the community in to the arts scene? Students at SOTA suggest catering to the youth, since they will be the next generation of art-makers and consumers.

 

“Many youths don’t attend theatre performances at all, as they feel that it is “boring”. Others don’t attend because tickets are expensive and they, as well as their parents, do not think that it is worth the money. Many people view theatre as a high-class form of entertainment that only rich people can afford to go to. That’s why we should make an effort to have more student-oriented plays where we first begin to go to their schools and cultivate in them an interest in theatre.”

 

-Leonie Koh, SOTA student

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“I think to engage, we definitely must find the honesty in the situation, in the characters, in the content. First and foremost, we must make sure that the message is something that resonates with them, and then will they be able to appreciate it.”

 

-Nur Sabrina Binte Dzulkifli, SOTA Student, Winner of the 24hr Playwriting Competition (Youth Category) 2012

 

As an initiative to make theatre more accessible to the heartlands, TheatreWorks has developed Writing and Community, a by-product of TheatreWorks Writer’s Lab, in partnership with the South East Community Development Council.

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Besides hosting the 17th edition of the 24hr Playwriting Competition, Writing and Community will also organise “Writing from the Heart” a series of interactive playwriting workshops conducted by well-known regional playwright and novelist, Tony Perez. This will enable participants to discover and harness their creativity from within. This is also a programme to encourage participants to join the competition where their newly acquired skills can be put into practice.

 

Also included in this exciting line up is the re-staging of the ever-popular Serunding by Ahmad Musta’ain Khamis, winner of the 24hr Playwriting Competition (Open Category) 2010.

 

As Singapore deepens her roots, there is hope for the theatre scene to grow and engage Singaporeans from all walks of life. Until then, we can focus on increasing our exposure to the arts and developing a greater appreciation for it.

Reminisce with us!

Check out our Photo Gallery today!

Photo credits: Gardens by the Bay

Photo credits: Gardens by the Bay

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Young & Theatrical (dialogue with the SOTA crew)

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Following her triumph last year as the winning playwright whose script, Of Babies (not really) and People was toured to the South East District in April and May 2013, Nur Sabrina Binte Dzulkifli is back again! Her involvement? She is helping Production Set Designer, Mohd Fared Jainal with the light and sound design for this year’s performance tour of the winning play, Marco Polo along with fellow School of the Arts (SOTA), IBCC students of the Theatre Faculty, Aaron, Chaney and Fiona.

 When asked what sparked her interest in the arts, Sabrina said,

 “My first experience with the theatre really made me want to do more – and it all kind of snowballed from there! I honestly love the way I can see the stories of the community portrayed onstage and reaching wider audiences, and maybe that is why I strive to create and act in plays that really touch on the issues of humanity. ”

 At SOTA, the theatre programme is a holistic one, offering opportunities to experience all facets of theatre. Aaron and Chaney give us some insight on the design process.

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 “We met up with Mr. Fared quite early to just come up with ideas and to discuss opinions on how the set might work. He was inspired by this particular artist, and he lent us 3 of the artists’ books to have a look through and see what stands out. The next week we basically sat together and threw in ideas from his work mixed with the naturalistic environment to make the set have an absurdist feel. After we sketched out the set, we started painting the set, buying the materials, and spending long nights just creating it from scratch. It was a eye opening experience for me personally.”

– Aaron Cheang

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“Searching for the right materials to use was a challenge as we were given 90 minutes in between classes to go and find the right materials. When we finally found a place that sold the materials, we were only left with 45 minutes. The design team ran around the place searching different stores for the right materials, which had to be the right color, the right size and the right price, given the budget. We overcame this challenge through GoogleMaps and running extremely fast.”

– Chaney

Besides involvement with the design of the play, another group of SOTA students played an important role in the production too. Affectionately known as ‘the people in white’ by the audience, Shaan, Regan and Leonie make up the stage ensemble which appears to control the existentialist world in Marco Polo. Regan and Leonie enlighten us on the challenges they faced during the rehearsal process.

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“My main challenge was committing to my first long term professional performance of which I had to go for many sessions and do the same thing repetitively however the exposure has really helped me understand what I’m in for and I can’t wait to do this in the future.”

-Regan

Prior to rehearsals, Leonie sustained a back injury, which, to her, limited her amount of involvement. She says,

“I didn’t have a lot of challenges as I did have quite an easy job, but at times I did feel like I was pretty “extra”. As in, my role was to “guide” the other two stage hands, Shaan and Regan, and direct them to where they were supposed to put the bench down, even though they knew exactly where to go and didn’t really actually need me to tell them where to go at all. Mr. Tobin might have wanted to do more with the stagehands but I might have limited him with my injury.”

-Leonie

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When asked about how to better engage others of their age in the arts, here is what some of them said,

“ I believe creating an easily accessible website where youths would find appealing would be really helpful. This website can list upcoming shows, forums for discussions, and overall just enlightening the youths on the theatre community in Singapore. If more plays revolved around social issues regarding youths, that might also help better engage the youths in society. ”

-Aaron

“ I think we can better engage the youths of Singapore by more publicity of theatre. Many youths don’t attend theatre performances at all, as they feel that it is “boring”. Others don’t attend because tickets are expensive. We should make an effort to have more student-oriented plays where we first begin to go to their schools and cultivate in them an interest in theatre. Maybe if we manage to cut down on the prices, more students will come to theatre performances, and in turn they can influence their friends and theatre will no longer be “boring”. Then, we can expect more youths to be seated in the audience. ”

 -Leonie

“ We can start by having more publicity for shows and productions, mostly on social media and TV as these two forms of media are widely used by many Singaporeans, especially Singaporean youths. Pamphlets do help, however, I have observed many people not paying much attention to pamphlets because they are usually left in the corner and this does not draw much attention to them, as a result, many people do not even notice them being there. ”

 – Chaney

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Do you have share the similar views with our friends from SOTA?

It is heartening to see the youth getting involved in theatre and the performing arts. Show your support by joining us at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 3pm on the 22nd and 23rd of March  and witness their hard work!

Click here to find out how to reserve your seats!

What our audiences said! (From Mountbatten CC & Gardens by the Bay)

Described as ‘brilliant’, ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘spectacular’, Marco Polo awed audiences at Mountbatten Community Club and Gardens by the Bay, Flower Dome.

Our Engagement Intern, Cara Ann Lee spoke to a few of our audience members to find out more.

Students, Daniel and Jaime, talk about the parts that resonated most strongly with them.

“… I thought that the ending ended pretty strong. Consistently, it (the play) was really strong but the ending was really, really captivating in the sense that it bore this insidious undertone. I thought that was pretty interesting and it resonated strongly because at the end of the day, what you feel and what you can touch at the end of the day feels more important than what you can imagine in your head…”

– Daniel

“… I liked the parts where the people dressed in white (the stage ensemble) came in. It felt very surreal to me. Just like the characters, I thought ‘who are those people?’ I felt a connection to the characters at that point… ”

-Jaime

 

Cheryl Tan, an undergraduate, found aspects displayed by the characters relatable.

“Most of the conversation between the two main characters resonated with me. It reminds me of things I do daily with my friends, like their common conversation and the shushing. It’s similar to what I have in my daily life. It’s quite relatable.”

– Cheryl Tan

Educator, Arunan Amurthalingam, who was present for Marco Polo at the scenic Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, drew an interesting comparison between the themes discussed and the performance venue.

“It was spectacular! You are in a garden and, you know, when you think about garden, you think about heaven. It’s got a lot of biblical imagery for me. So it kind of subverts things. You’re in a garden but they (the characters) are talking about heaven and hell. So I think the content and the thematic ideas come about very nicely with the setting.

-Arunan Amurthalingam

When asked to describe the play in one word, our very enthusiastic audience member, Victoria Chen summed up her experience as “Endearing” one.

 “It was endearing. I thought it was quite absurdist at first but I realised the issues that Jovi wrote about actually hit quite close to home, even if it is travelling through communities. People don’t really go to the theatre like the director, Sean Tobin said and this so-called absurdist quality may not always be something that the audience can relate to. Although I thought that the setting seemed out of this world, the issues that they talked about were still very relatable, so it was very endearing.”

-Victoria Chen

Why not treat yourself to this brilliant and thought-provoking show this weekend?

The performance tour of Marco Polo continues to Braddell Heights Community Club from 14 to 16 March 2014. Click here to find out more!

What our Audiences said at Marine Parade CC

Our Engagement Intern, Cara Ann Lee, caught up with a few of our audience members after the opening performance of Marco Polo at Marine Parade CC last week!

Samantha said…

1. In one word, share with us your Marco Polo experience. Why so?

Brilliant! It’s by a 17-year-old playwright and his thoughts are very deep. What I really like is how the play was left open ended. It’s good because there was no right or wrong in the play and that’s where we have the freedom to interpret the outcomes.

2. Which part of the play resonated with you most?

I would say, Lim as a character stood out quite a bit. Maybe because he doesn’t have love in his life, maybe he doesn’t have family members and people that hold him to the Earth. That’s why he wants to leave the Earth for Heaven, Hell, or even nothingness. I think his character is very sad and at the same time okay, maybe depressed.

3. What other projects would you like to see from TheatreWorks?

Anything will do, I am open to any type of play. The Marco Polo Tour is a good initiative by TheatreWorks!

Jillian said…

1. In one word, share with us your Marco Polo experience. Why so?

Thought-provoking. Although the theme of the play was rather dark and depressing, I found it very interesting that the set was very brightly coloured and … very absurd. If I had read the play, like what Jovi mentioned in the post-show discussion, I wouldn’t have imagined it to be played that way. I like how the actors talked about how, during rehearsal, they would get to a point where they were so sad and they couldn’t focus because of the low energy. So they decided to take a new approach to it that it made the play very interesting. Waiting for Godot influenced the language used in the play, some of their conversations were quite nonsensical. However, it made you reconsider certain thing and was very insightful.

2. Which part of the play resonated with you most?

The recurring joke about mowing the lawn! At first, I didn’t really get it, but as it was repeated, I made me realise that it was more than just a bond between friends, but a point on the meaninglessness of sight and how some things don’t matter or are inconsequential.

3. What other projects would you like to see from TheatreWorks?

More plays written by people of Jovi’s age. I think it would be interesting to see what perspectives the youth have.

Owen said…

1. In one word, share with us your Marco Polo experience. Why so?

Life. Symbolically, the play it represented their passage through life, even in a place where there is no meaning, or in a foreign area, life still continues.

2. Which part of the play resonated with you most?

Every time Jackson and Lim came into contact physically, that was a resonating moment because it was all very new in terms of their exploration.

3. What other projects would you like to see from TheatreWorks?

 I would like to see Serunding staged again.

(Lucky for Owen, there will be a restaging of Serunding from the 6th to the 8th of June 2014!)

Why not see it for yourself? Call us today at 6737-7213 to reserve your seats for Marco Polo!

Dialogue with the Cast, Bright & Ebi

TW Marco polo PRESS-1 In this entry, our Engagement Intern, Cara Ann Lee, speaks to the performers of Marco Polo, Bright Ong & Ebi Shankara.

Meet our actors, Bright Ong and Ebi Shankara! Brought together by the TheatreWorks Writers’ Lab Performance Tour of Marco Polo, they shed light about themselves and their experience in bringing Marco Polo to life.

1. Tell us about yourselves.

Bright (B): I was a geography major who snuck into theatre after graduating because it was the most sensible thing to do. As a kid, Cirque du Soleil and The Muppets were my performative inspirations, and luckily for me, I’m living half the dream as a puppeteer on an international kids show called Zoomoo! As for theatre, I am an SRT Young Co. alumni, and I have done quite a bit of work with Esplanade’s PLAYtime! I believe in the power of theatre and that children deserve the best!

Ebi (E): I’m a young theatre practitioner who is trying to improve my craft with every opportunity I get. I have been involved in the theatre since I was 15 and went on to take up a diploma in theatre and later, a degree in acting. I always had a flair for the English language and used to attend speech and drama classes as a child. It was only in secondary school where I stumbled upon drama club and never looked back. My first professional debut on stage was with W!ld Rice in their inaugural pantomime CINDEREL-LAH. I’m of mixed parentage so that allows me to play a more diverse number of characters. Being on stage and doing what I loved everyday sealed my love for performing. It is important to love what you do so that you always strive to give your best. I never looked back since.

2. In Marco Polo, Jack and Lim are evidently old friends, how did both of you build reciprocity?

B: We didn’t really have the time to indulge in friendship building, but fortunately for me, Ebi is one of those people you meet in life who turns out to be a solid kaki-lang (close friend). The chemistry on stage will speak for itself!

E: I think it’s a very natural thing for two actors who are very open to giving and receiving to click instantly and in that aspect, Bright, is an excellent partner to work with. He fed off what I gave him and gave back more in return. It also helps that we have certain common ground as people and that made it easier to work and build a friendship.

3. How is this play for the community different from other productions you were involved in?

B: To me, Marco Polo is relatively powerful as it is being brought to the people rather than them coming to us. I like the fact that the barriers of inaccessibility are brought down, and that the use of language is simpler and open to interpretation. Pieces like these are a lot more meaningful to me, but unfortunately, do not receive as much acknowledgment as they should do.

E: The play is very interesting. The intimacy of the play would be the difference for me. I feel the energy from the piece and how intimate it translates to the people watching. So we will have to wait and see how our audiences respond.

4. Was it a challenge playing your respective roles? Could you relate to your character’s struggles?

B: There is a challenge in every role, but as for this one, there were several conundrums I faced in judging how much of the reality of the character’s condition I can play, without making it too heavy or making too much light out of it. This is especially so in relation to the performance style. I definitely relate to how this character is, I see myself being this person sometimes. (Freaky…)

E: Yes it was. The performance style requires lots of energy. We have to use not only the words, but our bodies to play. I could actually feel my character’s journey which I think is the most important thing that drives the play forward. So being truthful to the character’s intentions took lots of work.

5. Tell us your favourite part/most memorable moment on this journey of Marco Polo?

B: The whole process has been really fun! It is rare to find a team that works so well across the board! I can’t pick a favourite moment as of yet, but I hope it is when the audience leaves their seats without throwing articles in my direction! But seriously, giving the audience a good show and a meaningful afternoon/evening is my priority. And hopefully it will encourage more folks to rid themselves of the fear of theatre and perhaps a genuine appreciation of live performances.

E: I love the improvisational aspect during our rehearsals. It allowed us to play freely, not be restricted and allowed plenty of room for play and creation.

Dialogue with the Playwright, Jovi Tan

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Our Engagement Intern, Cara Ann Lee spoke to Jovi to find out more about the process of writing Marco Polo, and what it was like bringing his script to stage for the community.

Meet Marco Polo’s playwright, Jovi Tan Yit Long! Aside from playwriting, Jovi has a keen interest in pursuing theatre outside of school, like acting and involving himself in writing poetry and prose too.

1. What was the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition (2013) like for you? 

It was difficult to cope with focusing intensely over a short period of time.

Personally, I find it easier to take my time to brood over subjects, but in this case there was only 24 hours. It made me realise that a lot of work can be done if a conducive work environment and work ethics were developed.

 2. What was your biggest highlight in this competition?

I think apart from writing a script, the experience offers many other dimensions, so it is hard to pick out one to talk about.

Part of the challenge were to sit down and write a script, converting the things you see around you to inspiration and finally into words. It was memorable when I finally got the break through and defined the premise of the script.

3.What was the inspiration behind Marco Polo?

I think part of being a writer is being available or susceptible to the observable surroundings. A lot of inspiration came not directly from where I was or what I saw, but simply the convergence of the things I observed and the things that happened to pass through my mind at that point of time. I cannot precisely remember what sparked me off. It can be said to be a confluence of all things.

Marco Polo is a reference to the game Marco Polo. After scribbling down a few lines, I felt I had to title the play, and so the first thing that came to mind was written down. I had intentions of changing it, but after the plot slowly unfolded, the title seemed oddly appropriate, and hence stuck through.

4. Are you excited to have your work performed?

Absolutely. When I first heard about the competition, I was very excited about the prospect of having it staged. Not many companies can offer that, especially to young aspiring writers. It was one of the reasons I was so keen on signing up.

5. What is the message behind Marco Polo and how do you hope the audience will resonate with it?

I think the message is that humanity possesses so much realism. Often at times, our conceptions of things we don’t understand tend to mask the beauty of being human. Hence it is not just a coagulation of borrowed ideas but also being real. It can also be an investigation into being in a human relationship because while the play takes place in the afterlife, I think human being is still the big feature.

To be fair, I don’t know the message myself. Audiences should take what they can from it. But my perspective on being human seeps into my work naturally, and perhaps this play can be an advocacy to my belief that being human is ultimately complex and comforting.

Dialogue with the Director, Sean Tobin

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Director, Sean Tobin (Centre), with performers Bright Ong (Left), Ebi Shankara (Right)

Cara Ann Lee, Engagement Intern (TheatreWorks), spoke to Sean to find out more about himself and his thoughts as the Director for the TheatreWorks Writers’ Lab Performance Tour of Marco Polo.

Meet Sean Tobin, our director for the Performance Tour of Marco Polo, written by Jovi Tan Yit Long, winner of the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition 2013 (Youth Category).  While most of us know him better as an educator, heading the Theatre faculty at School of the Arts (SOTA), Singapore, Sean also directs, writes and performs for the stage. Our team spoke to Sean to find out more about himself and his thoughts as the Director for the TheatreWorks Writers’ Lab Performance Tour of Marco Polo.

1. How do you feel you when you were approached by TheatreWorks to direct Marco Polo?

I was very excited to take on the project, for a few reasons.

When I first read the script, it had a very absurdist flavour to it. I tend to direct devised works more than scripted works, so time to time I like to challenge myself to direct an already written script. It was fun, warm and playful where I could imagine it being both challenging and engaging for a touring performance to the community.

I was also thrilled to be working with TheatreWorks for the first time. I have followed TheatreWorks for many years and am encouraged by the long-term partnership they have with South East Community Development Council (South East CDC), touring performances to the South East district, bringing theatre regularly to people’s doorsteps.

I have always been very interested in the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition and the unique kind of works which are produced through it. Every year, I send a group of SOTA Theatre students to the competition and the winner of last year’s youth category, Sabrina, was one of our students. It was exciting to see her original script touring and to see what she gained from it. So it’s a nice development for me to direct this year’s tour.

Oh and by the way, did I mention that I also participated in the competition myself this time around? So it’s an honour to be able to direct the work of one of the fellow participants.

I am excited to be directing the work of a young person, and I think Jovi is really talented. His text presents some very exciting challenges to me.

2. What challenges did you face in bringing Marco Polo to stage?

The play is rather surreal. The big challenge is how to ensure it’s the right mix of challenging and engaging for our audience. The script also dictates that it be in a kind of a non descript place.

It’s been vital to have a good working relationship with our Production Set & Lighting Designer, Mohd Fared Jainal, to ensure we can create a performance environment that will be true to the script, as well as visually appealing, and adaptable to the many different touring venues we will be performing in.

3. What do you feel are the key issues discussed in Marco Polo?

When you read or watch this play, it probably won’t strike you as being a play that raises very specific social issues. Marco Polo is different from last year’s tour Of Babies (not really) and People which attempted to explore issues of fertility and surrogacy in a uniquely Singaporean context.

As you watch Marco Polo, however, you will hopefully identify with themes of friendship, of family, and the universal questions we have about mortality, about the meaning of life, and what might be waiting for us in the afterlife beyond. I think the play is written and performed in such a way that the meaning can be left quite open.

4. How far do you feel that the issues raised in Marco Polo are relevant to the community?

Family and friendship are vital to each and every one of us, regardless of age, gender, race or religion. The issues and themes that are central to this play really are relevant to each and everyone of us.

5. How is the arts relevant to our community?

I believe we are all innately creative and imaginative, and deserve the chance to explore this side of ourselves. We start out as children, learning by playing, by singing, by imagining, pretending, creating.

Unfortunately many of us stop this along the way, as we are too busy, or we feel inadequate. I hope Singapore will always have plenty of opportunities for people of all walks of life to engage with artistic expression. It enriches our lives, our hearts, and our imaginations.

6. Are there any other unique developments for this Performance Tour in comparison with the previous editions since 2010? (i.e. Serunding, Saying Grace and Of Babies (not really) & People)

I think this play will challenge the audience in ways that past performances may have not. Due to its surreal and absurd flavour, it may throw some audience members off, if they come expecting a very singular meaning, a clear fixed naturalistic storyline. This is a bizarre dreamlike play. It is open to interpretation. I think it will present a wonderful challenge to the audience though. It’s healthy for us all to be exposed to all sorts of art. Some we will identify with more obviously and immediately than others. Regardless, I think it’s going to be a really entertaining and stimulating performance experience.

It’s also great to see that some of our SOTA Theatre students have opted to get involved in this production. Some have involved themselves as assistants to the Production Set and Lighting Designer, Mohd Fared Jainal, helping him in the designing and creating. Others are working on the tour as stage-hands. Its wonderful to see our SOTA students outside the school campus, working on projects outside the school and seeing how they apply their learning in the context of a professional theatre tour.