Singapore Theater Festival 2016 presents eight local plays

The eight local plays to be presented by Singapore Theater Festival 2016 has a wide scope, covering topics such as active ageing, Singapore's motorbiking community, the inability to speak one's ancestral language and the infamous Geylang district.

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Featuring nine playwrights, eight directors and four theater companies, the latest edition of Singapore Theater Festival (STF) will present eight local plays. Organizer W!LD RICE describes these plays as witty, whimsical, hilarious and heartbreaking with Ivan Heng, Artistic Director of STF, commenting, "[c]ollectively and individually, the plays invite and enable conversation and debate about today's hot-button topics."

Image credit: W!LD RICE

"In this day and age, many issues surrounding race, religion, politics, sex and gender identity have become divisive and polarizing. We are paralyzed by fear when it comes to thinking and talking about them," he adds.

Alfian Sa'at, W!LD RICE's Resident Playright and STF's Dramaturg, believes "theater can serve as a public forum where such issues can be freely explored, where our playwrights can reflect on the society they live in with nuance and conviction."

He explains that many of these plays were first performed in small venues and "deserve a larger audience" because they had been "overlooked by the wider theater-going public."

First-time playwrights such as Helmi Yusof, Nessa Anwar and Thomas Lim will also debut their works at the festival -- Yusof's My Mother Buys Condoms is a heartfelt romantic comedy that puts a cheeky spin on active ageing; Anwar's Riders Know When It's Gonna Rain takes audiences on an exhilarating ride through the adventures and friendships shared by members of Singapore's motorbiking community; and Lim's Grandmother Tongue examines how the concepts of family and identify are lost when younger generations can no longer speak their ancestral language.

The festival's cornerstone production is W!LD RICE's HOTEL, which was hailed by The Straits Times as an "instant classic" when it was presented at the 2015 Singapore International Festival of Arts, has also been nominated for seven ST Life! Theater Awards.

A hundred years of Singapore's history, including its social and political change, is presented through the guests, staff and ghosts that inhabit an iconic hotel in Singapore. Written by Sa'at and Marcia Vanderstraaten, he play is directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei.

Image credit: W!LD RICE

Another of Sa'at's plays, GRC (Geng Rebut Cabinet), which was recently nominated for three ST Life! theater Awards, is also one of the eight plays presented by STF this year and reimagines Singapore's political landscape where the majority of the population are Malays.

Heng shares, "[t]his Festival is very much about the Singaporean experience... But, far from being insular and parochial, they also speak to the universal experience of being human and the world we live in today."

Other than presenting local plays, a host of related activities are also planned. The Art & Life Sessions, a series of forums, will feature prominent personalities and are free for the public to attend.

A late night program, Festival Club, will also present emerging and established talents in drag, music and stand-up comedy.

Singapore Theater Festival 2016 will be held from 30th June to 24th July 2016 at LASALLE College of the Arts. Tickets can be bought via SISTIC.



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