(I wrote this on May 12, 2011. National Library Board (NLB) gave me their blessings in June, 2011, to publish this here. A few recent matters reminded me about this. I have made some minor language fixes and added 2 references.)
TheatreWorks (Singapore) Ltd is Singapore’s second professional theatre organisation.1 It was founded in 1985 as a private company, TheatreWorks Pte Ltd. Subsequently, it earned non-profit status and has been a company limited by guarantee since 1990. TheatreWorks now describes itself as an “international performance company based in Singapore”.7 It is also involved in related literary arts, visual arts and interdisciplinary collaborations, including the use of digital media.
TheatreWorks’ main objective was to be relevant to Singapore and Singaporeans. It aimed to reach “as wide an audience as possible and at as low cost as is feasible”.1 This commitment still remains with its casts, crew and content. TheatreWorks’ blend of cultural with contemporary influences is still withstanding the decades. Singapore arts veterans from front to back stage have done some work or other with TheatreWorks.
Lim Kay Tong
First press and media relations consultant, veteran theatre performer with international exposure.11
Lim Siau Chong
First artistic advisor.
First production and stage manager.
First project manager and theatre designer.
First public relations consultant.
Ong Keng Sen
Artistic director since 1988. First artist to have received both the Young Artist Award (1992) and the Cultural Medallion (Theatre) (2003).7
Mobil sponsored S$25,000 for TheatreWorks’ first two productions.
72-13, a converted rice warehouse, is the current home of TheatreWorks.
1985 : First year. Sixty-seven people came forward to join TheatreWorks.2 Staged Be my Sushi Tonight, a local adaptation of a British tragi-comedy.5
1990s : Flying Circus Projects, multi-disciplinary research and development program. Musicals with some Singlish in the scripts, Beauty World written by Michael Chiang and Dick Lee, Fried Rice Paradise written by Dick Lee.9, 10 Lao Jiu the play, translated from Chinese by Kuo Pao Kun himself.11 The abstract Conference of the Birds directed by the late William Teo.8 M Butterfly, including nude scene, at the Singapore Arts Festival 1990.6
2000s : Ong and TheatreWorks’ King Lear gained international critical acclaim.
2010 : 25th anniversary Friends’ Season – Tenderness For The Future, including a performance based on the life of Goh Lay Kuan, a pioneer dance artist, with her husband, the late theatre elder Kuo Pao Kun, who had been detained under the Internal Security Act and after his release, awarded the Cultural Medallion.12, 13
1 Second theatre group formed. (1985, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
2 Join this company. (1985, March 9). The Straits Times, Section Two, p. 2. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
3 Professional theatre group finds sponsor for first two plays. (1985, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
4 Better, more regular theatre fare. (1985, April 6). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
5 Can hopes rise above doubts? (1985, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
6 M Butterfly to be staged, nude scene and all. (1990, March 21). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
7 TheatreWorks (Singapore) Ltd. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from TheatreWorks web site.
8 National Arts Council. Wong Kar Wai Dreams, Creative Dreams and Cast. Retrieved May 12, 2011 from National Arts Council (NAC) web site. (Note: No longer available online as at May 19, 2013.)
9 Lee, Dick. (1991). Fried Rice Paradise: a musical. [Typescript]. Singapore.
(Call no.: RCLOS English S822 LEE)
10 Chiang, Michael. (1988?). Beauty World: where life is a cabaret. [Typescript]. Singapore.
(Call no.: RCLOS English S822 CHI)
11 TheatreWorks. (1985?). Non-NLB ephemera (organisations).
(Call no.: RCLOS English O371 v. 1)
12 Ballerina’s detainee husband freed after 4 1/2 years. (1980, October 19). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from NewspaperSG.
13 Winners, all. (1990, May 3). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from NewspaperSG.
Chan, Mark (Composer), TheatreWorks (Owner). (1993). The other actor. [CD]. Singapore: Stardust Music Publishing.
(Call no.: RSING English 782.14 CHA)
Lee, Dick (Composer), TheatreWorks (Owner). (2004?). Waiting & Time, from Mortal Sins. [CD]. Singapore: Ping Pong Music Pub.
(Call no.: RSING English 782.42164 LEE)
Tay, Tong (Producer). (2005). The re-making of a marionette troupe. [DVD]. Singapore: TheatreWorks.
(Call no.: English 791.5309591 REM -[ART])