PUBLIC ENEMY the first of W!LD RICE’s new plays

W!LD RICE will put up five new plays in celebration of Singapore's Golden Jubillee.

Words by Imagine TV Network

Theater company W!LD RICE will be kicking off their 2015 season with five brand new plays, each based on an ideal represented by the stars on Singapore's national flag.

Image credit: W!LD RICE

The first play, PUBLIC ENEMY, will debut on 25 April 2015 and will be themed around democracy. The other four plays -- TIKAM TIKAMHOTELTHE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES and COLD STORE -- will represent the value of peace, progress, equality and justice respectively.

Glen Goei, who assumes the role of director, shares that it was an easy choice to pick one of Henrik Johan Ibsen's work from among the others that were being considered because of the themes presented in PUBLIC ENEMY.

The themes are particularly relevant, he says, especially this year as Singapore celebrates her Golden Jubilee. The play is a direct translation of Ibsen's original work but W!LD RICE will be using David Harrower's adaptation.

In the political thriller, Dr. Thomas Chee (Ivan Heng), discovers that the city's water source has become infested with bacteria. Knowing that the city is preparing to promote itself as a world-class resort spa, he decides to go public with his findings and in that instant, he sets himself up to be the enemy of the people.

Heng, the Founding Artistic Director of the theater company and the play's protagonist, explains why his character went public with the information, "The water is toxic and people are getting sick. Going through the proper channels, as we all know, takes time and does not always work."

Image credit: W!LD RICE

Chee's brother, Peter Chee (Lim Kay Siu) is the city's Mayor but Heng adds that crisis reveals character. In a matter of days, there is an unveiling of the true nature of the politicians. "... The Minister reveals himself to be a cynical, self-serving politician who doesn't really have the interests of his constituents at heart," Heng says.

Goei contemplates on what democracy is and what it means to people, asking, "Is it about the will of the majority or should democracy be about protecting the rights of the minority?"

Although Dr. Thomas Chee made his decision based on his concern for the public's health and safety, Heng comments that fear stops people from wanting to hear or know the truth.

This fear leads people to dismiss the truth they can clearly see right under their nose but this inconvenient truth demands a heavy price not only of Dr. Thomas Chee but also his loved ones.

Recalling his favorite scene, Goei says he likes the final scene where Dr. Thomas Chee's father-in-law, Martin Kwek (Kee Thuan Chye), blackmails him emotionally and threatens his family. He remarks that the thought-provoking scene prompts the question, "... How much [will] we stand up for in the name of justice, equality and truth when our own pockets are at risks? Are we really just beasts at the end of the day?"

PUBLIC ENEMY opens at Singapore's Victoria Theater from 9 to 25 April 2014.

 

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