[Theatre Review] Puppet Origin Stories by The Finger Players: Of Remembrance and Reïnvention

Courtesy of The Finger Players / Photo: Tuckys Photography

Puppet Origin Stories
The Finger Players
9 November 2022
One-Two-Six Cairnhill Arts Centre
9–13 November 2022

The site of Cairnhill Arts Centre was originally an estate surrounded by nutmeg plantations. The building was also once Anglo-Chinese School and the Teachers’ Training College, among other things.

I am aware of those facts not because I am well-versed in local history, but it was shared with us by the co-artistic directors of The Finger Players, Ellison Tan and Myra Loke, as the prelude to Puppet Origin Stories, a triple bill of performances by artists from various disciplines using puppets from the company’s repository.

With that rather surprising prologue, Puppet Origin Stories is more than a puppetry experimentation or reïnvention; it is also about remembrance and the company’s way of looking back at its history. 

Remembrance and reïnvention are present in all three works.

Chai Jean Yinn as Shadow (left) while Liew Jia Yi manipulates Peng (right) / Photo: Tuckys Photography

In “Jabber”, movement artist Hairi Cromo takes his childhood experiences and creates a piece whereby a boy interacts with a strange creature, which is a physical manifestation of his unresolved feelings. 

Liew Jia Yi deftly handles Peng, the puppet of the boy, by slipping into his feet like slippers while manipulating his hands and head through the rods attached to them. Liew’s movement work is quite detailed as she successfully creates nuances in the boy’s movements such as creating the illusion of distance as the boy greets his friends when they pass him by in school.

Chai Jean Yinn plays the teacher, who strips the boy of his prefect position after he was caught playing a fool in class, and the amorphous creature, Shadow, that haunts the boy. The former is portrayed by wearing a mask, while the latter is portrayed by Chai wearing a headscarf made from different cloths and an oval cookie tin for a face.

Apart from the sweeping movements which creates a ghost-like quality in the creature, Chai also haunts the boy by collapsing her body which lends the creature an amorphous quality.

While one can see the resemblances to Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, which is one of the main inspirations for the piece, it does not have enough thrust in which the boy is working through his feelings. As it stands the boy has a slight revelation and asks the creature to leave him. 

One hopes that this piece will be developed further in future and, if it could really tell the story from the boy’s point of view, it will fulfil the main goal of emphasising the importance of adult’s acknowledging the feelings of children.

Tan Beng Tian visits Ah Ma (handled by Yazid Jalil) in a museum / Photo: Tuckys Photography

“AH MA” by film-maker Tan Wei Ting remembers the past and invents a (hopefully) fictional future when puppetry is no longer practised, and it exists only as artefacts inside a museum display. A puppet, Ah Ma, is chosen to be preserved, but when Tan Beng Tian realises that Ah Ma is unhappy, a museum heist ensues.

Ah Ma is a rod puppet created for A.i.D, Angels in Disguise (2010). As she is suffering from dementia in the original production, she has a jewel inside her head that represents her memories. With a flick, expertly done by a puppeteer, the jewel is flung out, and Ah Ma loses her memories.

The theme of remembrance manifests in many ways. In the context of the piece, will we suffer a kind of cultural dementia as our performance practices die out from the lack of support? Are we truly remembering a performance tradition if it is no longer practised? Is curation a kind of reïnvention?

Tan Wei Ting traverses the past and the imagined future through the interplay of archival footage of A.i.D and having Tan Beng Tian—veteran puppeteer who was involved in handling Ah Ma in A.i.D, and has been with The Finger Players since the beginning—perform in the piece as she navigates a world in which puppetry is dead.

Yazid Jalil doubles up as the bureaucratic curator and the grumpy, but sympathetic security guard who assists in the heist. He displays versatility in both puppetry work and acting as he has to switch characters at a (sometimes literal) drop of a cap.

The duo also showcased some sensitive puppeteering. As the lines of Ah Ma are delivered through a voiceover, the timing has to be absolutely right with details such as breathing or crying added in.

Apart from a sense of poignancy, there is also a sense of child-like playfulness. While Ah Ma steals the show, there is also some—for a lack of a better term— “informal puppetry” going on. 

Tan would sometimes hold and move the curator’s spectacles or security guard’s cap while Yazid delivers his lines before quickly changing characters. This harkens back to the games of make-believe we play as children—perhaps carelessly moving a soft toy while giving it voices might be our very first contact with puppetry.

Mitchell Fang (left) and Deonn Yang (right) handle Moon Baby as it stands on the body of Becca D’Bus / Photo: Tuckys Photography

In line with the provocative title, “Suck Sweat Dry, Baby!”, drag queen Becca D’Bus does not hold back and questions the premise of the whole endeavour. In her first monologue of the piece, she asks what is there to remember for a company with slightly over 20 years of history, and suggests that something only has monetary value if it has a history. 

While that might be incredibly cynical, one cannot help but wonder if there is a kernel of truth when most arts companies are so reliant on state funding, and they have to constantly justify their value to stay afloat.

Beyond the usual drag act of lip-syncing to Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, the provocation continues in a pastiche of scenes with different puppets. 

In one scene we see Moon Baby hiking up Bukit Timah Hill, represented by the contours of D’Bus’ corseted body. In the course of people-watching, a taxonomy of hikers is created, as Moon Baby wonders about human behaviour and the image that we are trying to portray to others.

In another scene, we see Sponge Girl inadvertently hooking up with Samsui Woman. And we soon see both puppets laying on top of each other while Deonn Yang and Mitchell Fang, who are in full drag, create sound effects that suggest copulation.

In most puppetry traditions, the puppets are often seen as performers themselves and are often treated with a sense of reverence. As such, it might be initially uncomfortable to see the puppets in this new context, which veers into the profane. 

But it is the same reverence that allows us to imbue them with human qualities, and the provocation soon becomes an exploration of human frailties and desire.  

One leaves the piece unsure of what one has just witnessed, but there is a tacit understanding of the need for human connection. 

With Puppet Origin Stories set to be a yearly fixture, the premise and overall direction of the first instalment is a good start. I cannot wait to see how this platform evolves in years to come. 

Other Reviews

Theatre review: Open-ended challenges in Puppet Origin Stories that linger” by Charmaine Lim, The Straits Times Life! (Review is behind a paywall.)

“关于守护的问题——观 ‘Puppet Origin Stories'” by 杨明慧, 剧读 thea.preter

到经禧艺术中心作客—— 观《偶起源故事@126》” by 梁海彬, 剧读 thea.preter

Further Reading

[Interview] Puppet Origin Stories: Same Puppets, New Stories — My interview with the creators of the pieces.

Digital Programme of Puppet Origin Stories

Puppet Origin Stories: Peng — An article about how Peng, which is featured in “Jabber”, came to be.

Puppet Origin Stores: Faceless Maiden — An article about how Faceless Maiden, which is featured in “Jabber”, came to be.

Puppet Origin Stories: Ah Ma — An article about how Ah Ma, which is featured in “AH MA”, came to be.

Puppet Origin Stories: Moon Baby — An article about how Moon Baby, which is featured in “Suck Sweat Dry, Baby!”, came to be.

Puppet Origin Stores: Sponge Girl — An article about how Sponge Girl, which is featured in “Suck Sweat Dry, Baby!”, came to be.

Puppet Origin Stories: Samsui Women — An article about how Samsui Woman, which is featured in “Suck Sweat Dry, Baby!”, came to be.

[Theatre Review] A Midsummer Night’s Dream by ITI — Sparse treatment showcases actors’ versatility

Jemima Dunn as a fairy and Daisy Zhao Xiaoqing as Puck / Photo: Bernie Ng

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Intercultural Theatre Institute
3 November 2022
Esplanade Theatre Studio
3–5 November 2022

I have to admit that when I found out that Beijing Opera, Kutiyattam, and Wayang Wong were incorporated to delineate the characters in A Midsummer’s Night Dream, I had strong reservations. 

It could easily derail into an exotic parade. Additionally, with this being the graduation production by the 2022 cohort of the Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI), it feels like a quick and easy way to showcase what the students learnt, rather than serve the demands of the text.

As the Athenians appear in Chinese opera garb in the first scene, which elicits a short burst of laughter, my heart starts sinking. With the inconsistency in make-up and costume,—none of the actors is in opera make-up, and some of them do not have a head covering—it feels like watching kids playing dress-up.  

Am I to endure 150 minutes of a rude mechanical play within a crude, mechanical performance?

Thankfully, this is not so. 

The rude mechanicals / Photo: Bernie Ng

As the performance goes on, the conceit regarding the various performing traditions becomes clearer. The show does not pretend it is faithful to the art form. Rather, certain aspects are borrowed to accentuate a certain quality of the character or to add to the mise-en-scène. 

To use a very rough analogy, if we liken each performing tradition to a language, rather than it being multilingual, it is more of borrowing a few expressions that capture something which is difficult to translate in one’s native tongue.

In essence, the focus on incorporating various performing traditions in the publicity materials (mea culpa) is over-egging the pudding. 

In that vein, director Aarne Neeme strikes the right balance with the actors when it comes to the fairies and the rude mechanicals. 

Kuttiyatam influences the wide stance, gestures that look like mudras, and the costumes of the fairies. But the production only seems to take the costumes and the gesture of spreading out the cloth hanging from the sides of the costume from Wayang Wong. This results in a cohesive depiction of the fairies and rude mechanicals.

Unfortunately, there is no consensus on how much the actors should borrow from the Beijing opera convention, resulting in them being slightly stifled by the demands of the form and the presence of the water sleeves. 

That said, it should be noted that Ng Yuan Ci (Hermia) is most fluent in the form, as she uses various gestures to portray the besotted or spurned lover to great effect.

Ng Yuan Ci as Hermia and Wong Jin Yi as Helena / Photo: Bernie Ng

But what is truly on display is the versatility of the actors. Of note are Ruthi Lalrinawmi (Titania / Starveling) and Wan Ahmad (Oberon / Snout). Lalrinawmi seems to grow in stature as the graceful Titania while she seems dumpy as Starveling. Being the tallest in the cast, Wan’s height is unmistakable, but the commanding presence of Oberon and the goofy demeanour of Snout is night and day.

While Peh Jun Kai (Bottom) only plays one comedic role, he has full control on the comedic dial throughout the show. He turns it up when he transforms into a donkey, and plays it to the hilt as Thisbe in the play-within-the-play.

Daisy Zhao Xiaoqing’s (Puck / Snug)  interpretation of Puck is interesting. Beyond the usual playfulness, she occasionally flashes a sinister side to the prankster, which is seldom seen in most portrayals. 

Oliver S.K. Wu (Lysander) and Kaleem Zafar (Demetrius) occasionally struggle with the mountain of mawkish text as they try to woo the ladies, but their physical sequences, which are borrowed from Beijing opera, are entertaining to watch when both characters are at odds with each other.

To my mind, Helena is the most irritating character in the play, but my impression of her has been rehabilitated by Wong Jin Yi’s wry approach to the character. Her deadpan expressions and opportune asides to the audience make us sympathetic to her being subjected to the cold-and-hot treatment (no thanks to Puck’s intervention) by the Athenian men.  

Kaleem Zafar as Demetrius and Oliver S.K. Wu as Lysander / Photo: Bernie Ng

As it is a graduation production, it is understandably bare when it comes to the set (curtains of what looks like transparent acrylic strips) and sound (generic Chinese opera or Indian music to signify the entrance of the characters). 

The lack of stage effects may result in the show being rather dry, but it is a testament to the overall success of the show that the audience is engaged throughout the whole performance. 

And what a fitting end for ITI’s class of 2022! Undergoing three years of actor training during a pandemic must seem like a feverish dream for them. 

Other Reviews

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by ITI 2022 Graduating Cohort” by Philippe Pang

剧评:A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Neo Hai Bin, 剧读 thea.preter

Further Reading

[Interview] Director Aarne Neeme on ITI’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Digital Programme of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

[Interview] Puppet Origin Stories: Same Puppets, New Stories

L-R: Becca D’Bus (drag queen), Tan Wei Ting (film-maker), and Hairi Cromo (movement artist) / Photo courtesy of The Finger Players

As a company known for including puppets in its productions, The Finger Players has amassed an impressive collection of puppets. However, most contemporary puppets are created specifically for a production and are almost never used once the show is over.

In recent years, The Finger Players has been looking into sustainability in puppetry through programmes such as The Maker’s Lab. In its latest production, Puppet Origin Stories, co-artistic directors Ellison Tan Yuyang and Myra Loke invited three artists from various disciplines to breathe new life into the puppets and tell new stories.

I interviewed Becca D’Bus (drag queen), Tan Wei Ting (film-maker), and Hairi Cromo (movement artist) to find out more about their relationship with puppets and inspiration for their pieces.

Prior to this production, what does puppetry mean to you?

Becca: I grew up watching Sesame Street and listening to Victor Khoo and Charlie, so puppets have always been magical and fun for me. Later, I participated in my first protest action when I was in college in Boston mostly because it offered me an opportunity to operate a giant puppet down the street. For the most part, puppetry is not something I’m great at; I lack the hand-eye coordination. 

Hairi: To me, puppetry is magic. Puppetry has the power to create illusions by bringing to life the inanimate and the imagination.

Wei Ting: Before this production, I feel like I haven’t had enough of an encounter with puppetry to give it any real thought. I did watch many of The Finger Players’ shows because I am quite a fan of their works.

Becca D’Bus, Deonn Yang, and Mitchell Fang will perform in Suck Sweat Dry, Baby! by Becca D’Bus

What inspired you to create your piece?

Becca:  I fear that as a queer person, I live in a moment where we are not imagining hard enough and are insufficiently ambitious in what we want for ourselves, and I include myself in this. Suck Sweat Dry, Baby! is my attempt to paint a picture of what it feels like to be in this moment. 

Hairi: Jabber is inspired by my own childhood struggles. Upon recent reflection, I have recognised as an adult that these childhood experiences have affected me and my sense of self. This piece is in some part an attempt at coming to terms with these reflections, but ultimately it is inspired by the desire to have the emotional struggles of children be heard and validated by adults that would eventually help them overcome their insecurities. 

Wei Ting: At the start of the project, Myra and Ellison brought the three artists together to share with us all the puppets that we could choose from which are part of the Puppet Origin Stories. I remembered vividly that they laid out what looked like 20-30 puppets, and spent the first hour (or two) telling us the backstory of every puppet: how they were made, what shows were they part of, etc. Throughout the briefing, all I could think of was: “Can I play already?” That was the genesis of this piece.

It further crystallised when I met Tan Beng Tian for an interview. Beng Tian is the puppeteer who first worked with AH MA (the puppet I chose), and is who AH MA is sculpted after too. At the very end of the chat, I asked Beng Tian: “If you were a puppet, what puppet would you be?” At first, she said, “I think I will be a traditional puppet, so I can be preserved eternally in the museum.” She then quickly changed her mind and said “No! No! I think I want to be a contemporary puppet, so I can always be moving.” I think this piece, AH MA, is pretty much inspired by her.

The puppets used were created for previous productions by The Finger Players. Which puppets have you chosen for your piece and why?

Becca: I picked Samsui Woman, Sponge Girl and Moon Baby. I was looking for an incompatibility of size and aesthetic, and I liked the idea of puppets without faces. In part because I knew that they would appear in a VERY different context than their debuts. 

Hairi: I chose Peng and Faceless Maiden. I was the puppeteer of Peng in a recent performance by The Finger Players and have an understanding of the capabilities and potential of the puppet. Thus, I would like to explore him further.

As for Faceless Maiden, I have never manipulated a puppet of such a structure before. I was intrigued by its possibilities, particularly with my intention to include movement and dance elements in my process. I felt she would be an interesting tool to incorporate into the exploration of body physicality. 

Wei Ting: I chose a rod puppet, her name is AH MA. She is very fun to play with. She has this piece of thing in her head, when she drops it accidentally, she will temporarily forget parts of her memories. She was designed for a community show (A.i.D, Angels in Disguise) as a character who lives with Dementia. 

I initially chose it because I read that she was sculpted after the likes of Beng Tian, who is an actor-puppeteer whose craft I respect and admire a lot. After talking to Beng Tian and finding out more about her relationship with puppets and her journey as a puppeteer, I eventually wrote Beng Tian into the play, which she then graced with her presence as one of the performers of the piece!

Tan Beng Tian and Yazid Jalil will perform in AH MA by Tan Wei Ting

How has the process on working on this piece made you look anew at puppetry, as well as inform you about your own artistic discipline?

Becca: Before working on the show, I don’t think I had strong views about puppetry. Now, working with puppets has made me think about drag and performance-making in terms of images a lot more. 

Hairi: Often in puppetry, the puppeteer serves mainly to manipulate the puppet. In this process I have attempted to activate the actors’ bodies in their own right, thus having their physicality and physical expressions become an extension of the puppets’ characters and expand the breadth of the performance as a whole. 

The process has also impacted my practice particularly in the area of generating movement. Usually, I improvise through gestures and viewpoints, but this work has allowed me to think more about text and dialogue as jumping-off points for movement improvisations.

Wei Ting:  Puppetry to me is the inner child in all of us. That imagination that we all had (and hopefully still have) when we made our favourite toys come alive for the first time without ever needing to be taught how to! It’s an art as much as it’s an instinct.

AH MA is my first attempt to play with the theatre medium, which I find really fun. As a filmmaker, I sometimes find it harder to play because the end result is a fixed piece of work that is sealed in time. I’m a terrible perfectionist, and I tend to craft every little detail of it in post-production, which can be rewarding in terms of artistic control. AH MA gives me that liberation to really enjoy the process because the end show is not within my control. Every show is a little different, and in every show and rehearsal, the performers, stage management team, and I would think even AH MA, bring something a little different each time, keeping each encounter and experience alive. 

I think this liberation is something I will bring along with me after this piece ends its course.

Liew Jia Yi and Chai Jean Yinn will perform in Jabber by Hairi Cromo

Were there any interesting discoveries in the rehearsal process?

Becca: That I might be allergic to dust. Also, I can look quite booby!

Hairi: The entire process is one big interesting discovery! As this is my first attempt to both write and direct my own work, every step is a first step and an opportunity of learning.

Wei Ting: Yes. So many that I don’t know where to begin. But I think they are more in relation to the background that I come from. 

I think the purpose of film and theatre are very similar, which is to tell stories. One happens on stage, one happens on screen. But the way of working within the creation process is drastically different. When I make a film, I often have to carry the project all the way from start to end myself. I pick up many collaborators along the way, they add a little something to the story, most of them don’t ever meet each other, and I continue on to the next phase with the project myself. Mostly, I start and end the filmmaking process myself.

But in theatre, it is a lot more collaborative. Once you hand the show over to the actors and the stage management team, they are the ones meeting the audience every night and theatre happens in that space every night without you. Even when you are there, you are not a contributor to the piece, but just an audience. I feel much more like a midwife in this process! And my role is to create a creative environment for everyone to tell this story together. It can only be done together, there isn’t any other way, which, honestly, is really, really nice. 


Catch It!

Puppet Origin Stories will run from 9 to 13 November 2022 at One-Two-Six Cairnhill Arts Centre

[Interview] Director Aarne Neeme on ITI’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Courtesy of Intercultural Theatre Institute

The final graduation production for the 2022 cohort of the Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI) is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. True to the ethos of the institute, this production features various performance traditions. I interviewed director Aarne Neeme to find out more about the show.

Why did you choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the production for the students to work on?

The choice of the graduation play is a group decision by the teaching staff — relating largely to the student needs and composition. This year we had a relatively large number of talented students, including strong women, which A Midsummer Night’s Dream gave opportunities for, together with the challenges of a Shakespearean play. While I have directed well over a dozen of his creations, this is my first encounter with the Dream, and I am relishing it!

Why did you decide to weave in Beijing opera, Kutiyattam, and Wayang Wong, performing traditions in which students have received some training in, into the show? How did you decide on which characters in the play would take a particular tradition?

One of the aims of ITI is to draw from the rich resources of both traditional Eastern and Western forms. Given the four layers of the play (the Spirit world, Athenian Court, Mechanicals and the “Performance”), it seemed an ideal opportunity to utilise elements of the training to delineate them. While there is no attempt to fully replicate any of the forms, we have simply used aspects to illuminate the differing worlds of the play.

India was the main source of most theatre in Asia, and with its spiritual beliefs, seemed to be the most appropriate for the world of Oberon and Titania. While the formality and morality of Chinese Opera befitted the Athenian aristocracy. This left the largely movement based style of Wayang Wong to the working men, with a touch of Elizabethan theatre for the play-within-the-play.

Courtesy of Intercultural Theatre Institute

What are some of the difficulties in working on the show especially in negotiating across four theatrical traditions?

The greatest challenge is the poetic Elizabeth language (even for native-born English speakers!). Sir Peter Hall puts it as: “The first question that the actor must ask about a Shakespearean speech is not who he is playing or what the character wants, first he must ask WHAT the character says and HOW he says it. The reverse of modern practice.” The delivery requires an understanding of sound and placement to enrich meaning. There was no confusion of traditions in specific characters, as they each belonged to separate forms.

Were there any interesting discoveries in the rehearsal process?

I was struck by the universal similarities of theatre presentation — story-telling through action with the imaginative power of poetry, abetted by music and dance, all on a bare stage lit by the audiences’ imagination. Also our shared human vagaries of being in love confused by infatuation, dream and fantasy, with society’s attempts to control it through reason, rules and the order of marriage. The play presents eight variations of love’s entanglements, leading finally to three marriages, a reconciliation, a meaningless encounter and the ultimate heroic foolishness of dying for love.


Catch It!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs from 3-5 November 2022 at the Esplanade Theatre Studio.

[Theatre Review] The Fourth Trimester by Checkpoint Theatre Brings Up Gravid Issues

Samantha (Isabella Chiam) and Aaron (Joshua Lim) struggle to care for their newborn / Photo: Crispian Chan

The Fourth Trimester
Checkpoint Theatre
4 August 2022
Drama Centre Theatre
4–14 August 2022

Getting pregnant and giving birth may seem like the most natural thing to some of us. But to do so safely and ensuring the child thrives can be absolutely mind-boggling.

Faith Ng’s The Fourth Trimester features three couples and a single woman who span the spectrum of circumstances regarding pregnancy. 

Samantha (Isabella Chiam) and Aaron (Joshua Lim) struggle to care for their newborn. In contrast, their neighbours, Sofia (Rusydina Afiqah) and Johan (Al-Matin Yatim) struggle to conceive. While Lisa (Julie Wee) and Daniel (Hang Qian Chou) seem to be doing fine with two children, their communication problems regarding intimacy issues strain the marriage. Having just come out of a relationship, Ann (Oon Shu An), who is Lisa’s sister, strives to be independent as she faces the attendant pressures of being a single woman in Singapore.

While medicine has progressed by leaps and bounds, pregnancy is still a very personal process with each body responding in different ways. As someone who has yet to witness the pregnancy of a partner, the choices that Samantha and Sofia have to consider are bewildering. 

The acronyms and abbreviations of various readings or medical processes rattled off by the characters will give any rapper a run for his money. And the pump-and-rest routine, recommended by the lactation expert for Samantha, sounds like a manic choreography created by an evil robot. 

Add the emotional burden of self-doubt; comparing oneself to others; and familial and societal expectations, it sounds nothing short of a messy ordeal. 

Far from avoiding it, Ng takes a deep dive into the messiness of human relationships and writes them in very affecting ways.

From the audience members cooing in sympathy with the opening scene to the countless post-show Instagram stories yapping about how “relatable” the play is, it is clear that the audience is in for the ride at every second of the three-hour emotional odyssey. 

However, all these knee-jerk reactions overlook something that director Claire Wong has done that is rarely achieved. She allows the scenes to breathe and run its emotional course. Many directors often cut their scenes short after a revelation or climax, almost apologetic about taking up the audience’s time.

This is complemented by the actors experiencing every crinkle of emotion. Witness Isabella Chiam as Samantha going from anxiousness to anguish, before picking herself up; or Julie Wee’s Lisa starting with annoyance, but ending with red-faced rage. 

The other characters have similar moments as they cycle through the whole gamut of emotions, undergirded by an inability to articulate, or expecting the other to know and fulfil one’s physical and emotional needs. This makes the relationship familiar and infuriating, yet all too human.

That said, how everything settles into the ending is a little unsatisfactory. As we are taken to such emotional highs and lows, the way the show ends feels as if it is because the allotted time of three hours is up. 

At the curtain call, director Claire Wong mentioned that the production took many trimesters for it to be put together. For a play that makes one feel so much and reflect on so many issues, it will be remembered for many more trimesters hence. 

Other Reviews

“Theatre review: The Fourth Trimester is a must-watch play about parenthood” by Olivia Ho, The Straits Times Life! (Review is behind a paywall. Read the partial transcript here.)

“Pandemic era’s first essential Singapore play” by Helmi Yusof, The Business Times (Review is behind a paywall. Read the partial transcript here.)

[Interview] Victoria Chen struggles with identity in upcoming audio drama, Jade: The Quarterlife Crisis

What should a Chinese woman achieve before she reaches 30? While the answers may vary, one thing is for sure; the list of expectations is long, and so is the number of people willing to contribute to that list.

Victoria Chen has always struggled with familial and societal expectations of what a Chinese woman in Singapore ought to be. When she moved to the UK for university, she was eager to live her life away from those expectations, but soon realised that being Chinese meant something different there.

Jade: The Quarterlife Crisis, a five-episode audio drama, is Chen’s way of exploring the themes through the character of Jade, who goes to Beijing in the hopes trying to discover herself.

I contacted Victoria Chen to find out more about this project.

What inspired you to create this audio drama?

Growing up in Singapore, I already knew I couldn’t live up to familial and societal expectations of what a Chinese woman in Singapore had to be.

As I lived through my 20s, I grew to realise that these expectations were arbitrary anyway. Many friends and counterparts don’t feel like they can or want to live up to these expectations. And I learnt that the generation before us—mothers, aunts, and mentors—never really agreed to these expectations that they’re also complicit in perpetuating. So why do these expectations still exist? Because of our heritage? Because tradition says so? This project sets me on a journey to find out.

Why did you decide to use the medium of audio drama to tell this particular story?

The beauty of audio works is that they leave much to the imagination. While Jade’s story is specific, I want the audience to draw from their personal experiences to form the images in their heads. Furthermore, I want this work to reach people around the world, and an audio experience felt like the most accessible way to do it. 

Speaking of access, I recognise that those with hearing difficulties will not be able to experience this work the way I intentionally designed it. If we manage to exceed our funding goal, I can acquire resources to make a transcript of the work accessible at a later date.

What were some of the difficulties in writing the script of this audio drama?

It was difficult to be patient as the story needed the time and space to grow into its current shape. The idea for this story originated in 2015 during an arts residency in Beijing. Back then, I had collected a ton of research, but the first draft was a terrible word vomit. It was incredibly discouraging. 

Seven drafts and seven years later, it’s a wholly different story and I’d like to think it’s gotten a lot richer as I’ve grown through my 20s. 

The story also transports the listener to different locations and time periods. So it’s a challenge to make that transition seamless yet clear to the listener when we don’t have visual cues, but we have a brilliant composer on board so I’m sure it’ll be fabulous. 

The story is partly inspired by your experiences living and studying in the UK, could you tell us a particular incident that made you question your identity?

I’m a fluent English speaker and I grew up speaking English as my first language. When I studied in Scotland, there were English speakers who didn’t understand what I was saying. Then I met a group of students from mainland China, and they didn’t understand me either! So now I’m stupid in two languages that I’ve been speaking since preschool. How is that possible‽

On the bright side, these experiences made me incredibly proud to be Singaporean. It’s like we have a secret language only five million people in the world would understand. You can identify a fellow Singaporean within the first 10 seconds of speech. I love that. 

Another concern of yours is Asian representation. Do you aim to put out an authentic Chinese story with this project?

I don’t think this is an authentic Chinese story. This story is for anyone who spent their 20s realising how much they have to unlearn, in order to fully manifest their own personhood and individuality, told through the lens of a Singaporean woman. 

Having created works here in Singapore and abroad, what is one misconception about Asian artists that annoys you?

One misconception that annoys me is that we can only depict Asian characters, tell Asian stories or exist within Asian narratives. Hello‽ Cast us in fantasy, write us into chick flicks, put us in Shakespeare, let us just exist without it being a statement on our ethnicity! We can do anything. 

As this is an independent project, it is difficult to get funding. Apart from covering the upfront costs, what would it mean to you and your team if your audience contributed to your Kickstarter campaign?

Anyone who backs any project is essentially saying, “I see value in what you do, I believe in your ability to execute it, I’m willing to be part of making this happen, and I’d like to be there when it’s done.” It means so much to anyone to have that kind of support!

Crowdfunding essentially reminds people that things can happen when a community comes together. Choosing to crowdfund this project wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did because it reinforces my belief that an artist’s work is always for an audience, and that there are people out there who want to see and be part of your work. Word of mouth can go a long way, and small contributions from many people can make a real difference.

I still believe that what goes around comes around, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that others still believe in that too. At the very least, it’s similar to purchasing an early bird ticket or season pass… but you also get perks!

If you had to give some advice to young adults experiencing a quarterlife crisis, what would it be?

If anyone has the answer I’d love to know too! We may be on different paths but we’re all still on the same journey. I hope Jade will be able to provide some perspective. Let’s figure it out together?


Support the Work

The team behind Jade: The Quarterlife Crisis is currently running a Kickstarter campaign. Supporters will not only bring this project to fruition, but are entitled to a variety of perks.

[Theatre Review] Asylum by ITI — Where Safety and Humanity Collide

Photo: Bernie Ng / Courtesy of Intercultural Theatre Institute

Asylum
Intercultural Theatre Institute
26 May 2022
SOTA Studio Theatre
26–28 May 2022

The Asylum is established with actors taping everything to demarcate the lines and boundaries of the set. 

Those who are familiar with theatre will be familiar with the slight buzzing sound when the tape is pulled to mark the stage. However, with 12 rolls of tape going at the same time, the buzz grows and is reminiscent of a swarm of pests invading a space. 

By all accounts, the opening sequence and its significations of the lines and boundaries that we draw for ourselves, or are imposed on us, are clear-cut and simple. But the visceral impact such a simple device has is a testament to the wondrous alchemy that is Jean Tay’s script with Oliver Chong’s direction.  

From there, one witnesses the unravelling of an asylum as a fictional infectious disease rages on in a colonial settlement, and rumours of a tiger roaming the boundaries increases the tensions within the asylum.

The graduating cohort of the Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI) plays 12 different characters: four female patients (Daisy Zhao Xiaoqing, Ng Yuan Ci, Ruthi Lalrinawmi, Wong Jin Yi), four male patients (Kaleem Zafar, Karlwinn, Peh Jun Kai, Will Wong Keng Ip), two nurses (Ismael Gallaza Pantao, Oliver S.K. Wu), a doctor (Jemima Dunn), and a security guard (Wan Ahmad).

The patients are treated more like inmates, as they are constantly observed by the asylum staff, led by the doctor who carries a big stick. They also fall along a spectrum of coming to terms with the fact that their family and society have abandoned them—from naïveté to being downright jaded.

In this highly charged atmosphere, it is inevitable that the characters would clash with each other due to their conflicting desires. The collisions happen on different levels, and fueled by fear and rumours, result in an implosion. Several patients attempt to escape as the staff tries to hold the fort while looking out for the tiger.

A moment of care between patients / Photo: Bernie Ng

A way to get a grip on the conflict would be to see it as a conflict between safety and humanity. Intuitively, it might seem easy to understand both concepts at first, but one soon realises that it is difficult to articulate precisely what constitutes both. 

Separating patients with infectious disease from the community for the sake of safety makes sense on some level. But how far does this entail policing the movements and lives of the patients? 

Wanting to live one’s life with a freedom to choose is understandable, but how much freedom should one have without harming the well-being of the wider community?

Jean Tay’s decision to abstract her script away from the peculiarities of old quarantine sites in Singapore not only allows the deeply resonant debate of safety and humanity to come to the fore, it also allows her to touch on the inner fears and hysteria of the unknown, which serves as a foil to the supposed tiger outside the walls of the asylum. 

Tay’s ambitions are matched by the deft direction of Oliver Chong. With all the characters being on stage throughout the show, it is tempting to par down the interactions such as letting the characters sleep in their cell when the focus is not on them. However, Chong decides against it, and this results in all sorts of unspoken interactions that entices one to rewatch the show several times. 

The rigorous training of the actors in various traditional art forms have certainly paid off in terms of their presence and synergy. This is evident during the climatic scene in which the patients stage their getaway. The movement around the set and the stillness when tragedy strikes, creating some beautiful stage pictures.

Tragedy strikes / Photo: Bernie Ng

While there are some mis-timed line deliveries and the buildup was not intense enough to warrant the climax on the opening night, it is a beast of a show. This critic cheers the actors on and hopes the beast is tamed by the third show. 

There may be no armed guards or barbed wires, and the act of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore is seen as a social responsibility, but scratch the surface and we realise that we are still being tracked, traced, categorised, and imposed upon. 

Where we draw the line between safety and humanity will forever be contentious, making Asylum a play worth restaging from time to time.

Other Reviews

“[Review] Asylum — These Ties That Bind” by Philippe Pang, Arts Republic

Further Reading

Interview with Jean Tay (playwright) and Oliver Chong (director)

Interview with ITI students

Leprosy: A Story of Suffering, But Also of Hope by Danielle Lim, BiblioAsia (Apr-Jun 2020)

[Interview] Asylum by ITI – Students Reflect on Art, Pandemic, and Society

Courtesy of Intercultural Theatre Institute

Following the interview with director Oliver Chong and playwright Jean Tay on the process of creating Asylum, I asked the graduating cohort of the Intercultural Theatre Institute to reflect on the process as well as their perspectives on the current COVID-19 pandemic.

What were some of the difficulties in devising this piece?

Daisy Zhao Xiaoqing: The play unfolds slowly to me as we continue rehearsing every day. Every new finding is challenging for me. Whatever the other characters are experiencing, or have experienced, I find part of my character in that. While watching others, I am moved inside, allowing myself to be affected and connected to them. Another difficulty is being onstage for the entire show and having to design every single detail of the simple actions and reactions that come from the character’s core.

Oliver S. K. Wu: All of us are always onstage at the same time, so stage business has to be sustained. Being aware of everything that’s happening onstage and to my character concurrently has been a stimulating challenge.

Peh Jun Kai: Coming together as one piece took awhile because there are 12 different voices, so the giving and taking of space required some trial and error along with patience. Each week is about digging deeper to find the authenticity, energy changes and nuances of the character while being brave and generous in the face of the work.

Wan Ahmad: Crafting the character was simple, but crafting the character’s depth and logical pathway as well as pushing their stakes and vulnerability was tricky and arduous. Every line, every monologue, every moment had to have intention, and trying to achieve the specificity Oliver Chong envisioned in all of us was challenging but fun. I explored many paths for my character’s actions and journey.

Synopsis of Asylum
A tiger lurks outside the building, a doctor attempts treatment using unorthodox methods … and within the high walls of the neglected facility, a patient hatches an escape plan.

Were there any interesting discoveries in the rehearsal process?

Ismael Gallaza Pantao: The progress of all of us in this piece. It is amazing to see my peers using what they have learnt from their training in contemporary and traditional theatre over the past two years. The togetherness as an ensemble is also another interesting discovery — how we have come together to elevate each other and our individual crafts.

Karlwinn: The rehearsal process fleshed out the core significance of my character in the play. As an actor, every rehearsal is the opportunity to assess how my character evolves. This includes the character’s personality and behaviour, their relationship with other characters, and the goal of my character by the end of the story. Because of this, the most interesting discovery I found is that as an actor, I am no longer the only one who decides the who, what, where, when, and how, but the character himself can decide that too. When my actor self and character become one.

Ng Yuan Ci: As the rehearsals progressed, I felt everyone starting to immerse themselves into their roles and it slowly felt like we were living in an actual asylum. The immersion helped our creativity in the space and the connections we made with each other come naturally to us. The challenge of ensuring our actions have meaning started to come easy for all of us as well.

Peh Jun Kai: The characters in our play are stuck in a physical place. It is like being in a prison. And likewise, during the pandemic, many of us experienced that feeling of being trapped, physically unable to go out or go overseas to places we want to. There is a sense of collective loss.

And I think what is interesting are the lessons that can be learnt from how these characters try to cope or find solutions in this physical and psychological prison.

Will Wong Keng Ip: We are all onstage at the same time, and I’ve discovered how important it is to support and depend on each other — even when it’s dimmed or dark, or we’re not the focus of that scene. We have come together as an ensemble, to the point where we are not able to work smoothly if someone gets sick or is unable to attend rehearsals. And to me, it is that act of working together as a unit that is an important message in the show as well.

Wong Jin Yi:
The importance of creating a full backstory behind each character, and how each character’s backstory grew organically, such as when crafting stakes moment to moment, or giving justification to certain choices the character makes.

Courtesy of Intercultural Theatre Institute

Has the COVID-19 pandemic made you rethink the way you want to practise your craft?

Daisy Zhao Xiaoqing: 疫情将我们隔离和囚禁,在恐惧与外界接触的同时,我们却又如此渴望能够再次交流和触摸。也许我该感谢这场疫情,它让那么多问题暴露在烈日之下,炙烤我们的心,迫使我们去追问,去反思,去抗争,和去珍惜。剧场提供一个时空,让一群人共同呼吸,共同经历。能够在灯光下,脱去口罩,诉说故事,是何其幸运的事情。这让我愈发地渴望聆听个体的声音,和相信团结的力量。那些稀松平常的故事让我们知道我们存在着,不孤单。

不能说是重新考虑,而是坚定了我对剧场的信心。让自己表演的脚步变得更踏实和真实。表演不是至高无上的艺术,它是属于每个人的艺术。它是最朴实无华的存在。

[The pandemic strengthened my faith in theatre, in art. In the magical world, we exist in the same time and space, we breathe together, we stay close to each other, we become a mirror to others, and we become home. I feel more grounded, have more hope, and I become bigger than myself because I know we are more connected than ever. Art is not high in the clouds; art is in the soil. Every individual’s story reflects the collective’s needs and wishes.]

Jemima Dunn: It has definitely made me appreciate the liberties of interacting with performers in the space. Despite the challenges of social distancing and the wearing of masks, it has been a valuable experience learning how to connect with other actors in more subtle forms.

Kaleem Zafar: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a lesson for all of us. Theatre has become such a volatile field, so as an artist, it has become important to have a backup plan. On the bright side, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to work on the self and rethink individual habits.

Peh Jun Kai: I think the changes experienced during the pandemic have made me realise what are some of the non-negotiables in the practice of my craft. This has given me more clarity when I am planning my practice. The personal and professional disruptions caused by the pandemic have made the work harder, and have led me to be more intentional in taking care of myself and the people that I am working for and with. It is important to recognise for myself that the creativity, imagination, and deepening of the character and work happen faster and better when safety and care are present for the actor.

Ruthi Lalrinawmi: I am still looking forward to creating my own works as well as learning and sharing together with like-minded people about theatre. To perform live onstage in front of a large audience. However, the pandemic has also taught me how to survive in this field, and to ponder deeply about my life choices.

Wan Ahmad: In many ways it has. It has pushed me to pick up new skills, such as video editing, music production and graphic design. I had to change the perspective of how audiences could view my work. Especially during the early period of the pandemic, when works were being digitalised and the viewers’ focus points evolved. I began experimenting with images and audibility in my works.

Wong Jin Yi: Definitely. It has thrown into relief how important and essential live performances are. But the pandemic has given birth to certain pieces that really try to make use of technology to augment and improve the audience experience, and there are definitely some exciting developments growing on that end. I have started paying more attention to how digital artists interact with perception with an eye on how I might incorporate such things in my work in future.

Courtesy of Intercultural Theatre Institute

How has working on the piece affected your view on the current COVID-19 pandemic, especially in terms of how your home country is dealing with it?

Ismael Gallaza Pantao: I can relate the different stories of suffering and struggle in our pandemic to this piece. It has taught me that we need to remind ourselves to always be strong, have the courage to fight and have faith.

Jemima Dunn: Working on this piece has given me gratitude to both Singapore and Australia for the methods they have put in place to protect their citizens against this virus. On the other hand, it has shed light on how isolating the past few years have been for so many of us, and how it has challenged our humanity in more ways than one.

Kaleem Zafar: Any kind of pandemic is a kind of suffocation for humanity. It has also caused a lot of anger against the system, that is doing their best to pull humanity out of this situation. In actuality, we are all responsible for how we react to this pandemic, so we should learn how to deal with it together.

Karlwinn: Theatre really is the mirror of life. To me, this piece is a minute representation of what is happening to my country in terms of health facilities, work ethics, and system of government towards pandemics. It’s a reminder that my country is not ready for the pandemic because issues such as the country’s infrastructure and tourism (both eco and cultural) are prioritised. A bill was proposed by a senator once on pandemic preparedness, but it was not prioritised and he passed on before the bill could become a law. Two years later, the pandemic hit the Philippines. It is very disappointing.

Oliver S. K. Wu: Working on this piece has made me understand how fragile humanity is. I have also become very homesick, missing Macau more and more each day.

Ng Yuan Ci: The pandemic has reshaped our personal relationships in drastic ways, connecting people in new ways despite the separation. The difference between our play and the real world is the ability to connect with the rest of the world online. It’s allowed for better communication, less worry and rallying help for the people in need. The pandemic has reminded us to not let fear get in the way of helping each other.

Ruthi Lalrinawmi: It just proves that disease does not discriminate, no matter your background or upbringing. The pandemic has also uncovered the world’s cracks and most importantly, the inequalities in social structures and underdeveloped countries. That the infected continue to be discriminated against or looked down on by their respective societies. We may have developed in most ways, but our hearts will always have that resistance.

Wong Jin Yi: It really drives home the persistent sense of isolation people must be feeling. To be locked away from their families for so long, as well as the sense of alienation of being constantly treated as a second-class citizen, which some migrants still are.

Will Wong Keng Ip: I am more patient and understanding toward others and differing perspectives. I also try to step back and reflect more.


Catch It!

Asylum runs from 26-28 May 2022 at SOTA Studio Theatre.

[Interview] Jean Tay and Oliver Chong on Creating Asylum with Intercultural Theatre Institute

Asylum marks the first time the Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI) presents a graduation show in a venue at full capacity in two years. Having come out of the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asylum is inspired by the the long-forgotten histories of Singapore’s old quarantine sites.

To find out more about the show, I interviewed playwright Jean Tay and director Oliver Chong about the creative process and their thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic.

What inspired you to look into the history of quarantine sites in Singapore?

Jean Tay: I have long been intrigued by old quarantine sites, like the one at St John’s Island. The idea of quarantine always seemed a somewhat distant one, popular in colonial times, but increasingly regarded as a blunt tool given the advances in medicine and technology over the years. As I started to explore further, as part of a research residency with the National Library Board, I came across some incredible hidden stories, from the old leper asylum, Trafalgar Home, in Yio Chu Kang. To me, it was fascinating (and heartbreaking) to see how people dealt with their fear of illness and each other, and how that ended up breaking up families and relationships, but also created new relationships amongst the inmates themselves.

What were some difficulties in creating this show?

Jean Tay: My challenge was having to create a piece that would feature 12 distinct and diverse characters. Fortunately, I was able to work with the final-year students closely to improvise individual characters, loosely based on some of the historical research and different characteristics… we must have come up with over 40 of them! And then from there, I narrowed in on the most compelling characters with the greatest potential and used that as a basis to develop the narrative to see what would happen to these characters when put under pressure. As I did so, the script also moved into a more creative realm, so that it’s not leprosy we’re talking about anymore, but a fictional illness, set in a fictional asylum, in a fictional country.

Oliver Chong: The self-imposed agenda is to give a fair share amount of space to showcase all of the 12 students. This is a challenge I often face when creating graduation shows with a large group of students. There is the pressure of being fair to everyone while knowing that it would be impossible to flesh out all characters, and hence be unfair to all.

As the actors are trained in a myriad of art forms across various cultures, are you tapping into their training to create this show? If so, how?

Oliver Chong: The aim is not about displaying the myriad of art forms that the actors are trained in. Rather, I believe it should be about distillation, that is discovering the core in the different art forms and fusing the training into a melting pot to find meaningful contemporary applications.

Courtesy of Intercultural Theatre Institute

Were there any interesting discoveries during the rehearsal process?

Jean Tay: It is easy to lose track of characters when one is working with such a large cast. Fortunately, my director, Oliver Chong, has come up with the brilliant concept of keeping all the cast onstage at all times, regardless of whether they are featured in the scene. So it means that we get to see what is happening with the other characters, even when they are not actively highlighted in one particular scene, and I love the little discoveries in seeing these “unwritten scenes” come to life, as the characters continue to live and breathe “off-stage”.

Oliver Chong: Not because of the rehearsal process per se but moving along with the development of the pandemic as we rehearse, we have observed that it is the impact of the disease on our livelihoods and ways of life. The disruptions, reaction, and the overreaction of society that is no less detrimental to the interests and mental health of most people. This is unequivocally no less frightening than contracting the disease itself.

How has the process of looking into old quarantine sites and the country’s attempt to deal with epidemics affect your view of the current COVID-19 pandemic?

Jean Tay: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought quarantine back into the spotlight, and brought fresh resonance to this issue, especially seeing how people had to deal with the challenges brought on by an enforced quarantine. It’s a little sad to realise how, even after years of technological and medical advances, it is so easy to revert back to a very basic and primal fear of the unknown, and of each other, when confronted when an unknown disease once more. But even in the midst of that fear, it’s also eye-opening to see the moments of compassion and courage, when individuals reach out beyond themselves to extend a helping hand, even when it puts themselves at risk.

Oliver Chong: Cross-referencing leprosy and the Trafalgar Home with the pandemic and quarantine facilities now, the knee-jerk reaction of rounding up and ostracising the unknown and its carriers remains the same. It is a defence mechanism in the name of the greater good. The question remains as to whether we have done better in compassionate quarantine and isolation.


Catch It!

Asylum runs from 26-28 May 2022 at SOTA Studio Theatre.

[Interview] Director Hawk Liu on Creating an Abridged Version of Verdi’s Macbeth

Steven Ang as Macbeth and Tatiana Konovalova as Lady Macbeth / Photo: Hawk Liu

Over the years, The Mad Scene has been reviewing operatic, musical theatre, and classical music performances. Spurred by the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Steven Ang, founder of The Mad Scene, decided to seize the moment and produce an abridged version of Verdi’s Macbeth, an opera that he has longed to perform in for many years.

To realise his vision, he brought Hawk Liu on board to direct the show. I spoke to Liu to find out more about the show.

What is it about Verdi’s Macbeth that attracted you to direct it?

When Steven Ang approached me to direct the opera, I said yes immediately. It’s a delicious opera to direct with so much potential for drama, and my own temperament suits the intensity of expression that this opera demands. I wanted a visually driven drama piece that uses physical manifestations of the internal emotions of the characters. I told the cast that I wanted to audience to see what they feel and I think that is coming along nicely.

What are some of the difficulties in working on this adaptation?

For me, the difficulty in creating anything is to start from zero. It means I need to workshop quite a bit in order to see something stronger in my mind coming to life. But once I get going and have something to work with, I can build a lot more from there. That has been my experience in this production as well.

As I am a dancer, I wanted the singers to feel where the music is coming from in order to put the flow of the music into their movements. There is quite a bit of working with movements to get the visual effect I wanted, especially so when the music drives the drama so much. It can be a subtle thing but I think it can make a lot of difference in the visual and emotional experience.

There was also the issue of how to bring about a completeness of staging in an abridged opera. I had numerous discussions going back and forth with Steven Ang, the producer, about how we wanted the drama to play out given there will be no crowd scenes, etc.

I feel the main difficulty in a modest production like ours, is working with accompaniment tracks during rehearsals. Trying to start and stop the action is most trying for me without a pianist when the music drives the action so much.

Tatiana Konovalova as Lady Macbeth / Photo: Hawk Liu

Were there any interesting things that happened during rehearsals?

The curious thing about a production like this specific one is whether we see a lot of bad luck happening. Yes, we did. Our Lady Macbeth, Tatiana Konovalova, was stuck in Russia for many months as she could not get a vaccination to get herself back to Singapore. A member of our cast had a heart problem and had to go for an operation. We wondered whether we had to hunt for a replacement, but thankfully, he’s still with us. In the props department, we ordered some swords and we sparred too hard and one of them broke into two pieces!

Our original Witch (yes, just one!) had to leave the production due to her own professional commitments, but we found a replacement – yourself, Isaac, a male actor. I was quite excited about the prospects of turning a witch’s role to a male one and after doing a few hours’ experiment, I think we got it!

If you are only given three words to describe the production, what would it be?

See for yourselves!


Catch It!

Macbeth will be performed on Saturday, 23 April 2022, at Goodman Arts Centre Black Box.