Monday, March 30, 2009

We won a Life! Theatre Award for Best Multimedia!

Okay, technically it was Choy Ka Fai who won it. But he's in the UK filming stuff for Diaspora (which will be in the Edinburgh Festival 15 and 16 August!) so I collected it on his behalf, talked about what a great guy is to work with and exhorted everyone to watch his upcoming Revolution Per Minute (23 to 25 April).

That's our only prize, though. Best Production went to Gemuk Girls and Best Sound went to... shite, I've forgotten who got best sound. It'll be in the papers tomorrow. Oh yeah, it was Philip Tan for Temple.

I'm at TheatreWorks dropping off the trophy now. Had a conversation with Selina Pappa over what Ka Fai wll use it for. Paperweight? Bookend? Extreme dildo?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life! Theatre Awards Nominations 2009

Reservoir's been nominated for Production of the Year, Best Multimedia and Best Sound Design!


Results on Monday 31 March.

Production of the Year:

* Gemuk Girls (The Necessary Stage)
* House of Sins (Dramabox)
* Reservoir (Theatreworks)
* Temple (Cake)
* The King Lear Trilogy (Ho Tzu Nyen)

Best Sound Design:

* Bang Wenfu (The Hypochondriac)
* Chong Li-Chuan (Reservoir)
* Philip Tan (Temple)
* Zing O Drum Group (Death of a Hero)
* Zizi Azah (Above us only sky)

Best Multimedia Design:

* Choy Ka Fai (Reservoir)
* Loo Zihan (Gemuk Girls)
* Brian Gothong Tan (Temple)
* Tan Kai Syng (The Vagina Monologues)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Between the Scenes

Just a repository for all the photos that I couldn't really classify.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reservoir Review (Today Weekend, 30 August 2008)

We're rather happy with this review because it describes the problematics of the play.

From Ng Yi-Sheng's Careerblog

A Shrining example

“A STRAIGHT line into the forest!” It’s a phrase actress Patricia Toh utters in amazement upon finding a pathway in the middle of Reservoir.

It’s also an apt analogy for this new multi-media production by TheatreWorks, as director Choy Ka Fai, playwright Ng Yi-Sheng and the rest of the team beat a straight path into uncharted historical territory like a band of merry explorers.

This collaborative piece is essentially a heartfelt ode to a forgotten monument in the heart of MacRitchie Reservoir. And not just any whitewashed statue or structure, but the rather controversial Syonan Jinja. The Shinto shrine was built to commemorate the first anniversary of the British surrender to the Japanese during World War II in 1943.

Reservoir has an autobiographical approach, literally: It tells the story of a group of people who go in search of a mysterious structure that’s been swallowed up by the jungle.

Like episodic chapters in a multi-media history book-cum-diary, it combines song and dance performances — from actor/singer Rizman Putra and Japanese dancer Norico Sunayama, respectively — Choy’s own video graphics, an evocative soundscape from Chong Li-Chuan, as well as documentary footage and audio interviews of people who’ve seen the shrine in its heyday.

It’s an inventive approach to telling a story; one that few people would even think of bringing up without getting their knickers in a bunch.

That’s because it’s a sticky topic to begin with. And because Reservoir does not dwell at length with the less-than-pleasant points of war and colonial occupation, it may get accused of handling a sensitive historical topic irresponsibly.

During the opening night’s post-show talk, for example, an audience member even made comparisons to the World War II Auschwitz concentration camp.

But that comment reveals, more than anything, certain prejudices towards such topics: for example, when you bring up the Japanese Occupation of World War II, every Japanese must have three eyes, two horns, a tail and feed on the blood of young babies.

But this reviewer was relieved that the young team behind Reservoir did not even attempt to tackle the topic in such a manner, because they found a way of making sense of a symbolic structure on their own terms, no matter how romanticised it may sometimes feel.

Unlike the black and white views of textbook history, Reservoir feels fresh. There’s a sense of wide-eyed innocence and an eagerness to explore and it’s worthwhile to follow the piece all the way to that proverbial clearing in the forest.

Reservoir ends Saturday (Aug 30), 3pm and 8pm, at 72-13Mohamed Sultan Road. Tickets at $28 from or call 6737 7213.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


"Deep in the heart of MacRitchie Reservoir lie the ruins of the 
Syonan Jinja, a Shinto shrine built during the Japanese 
Occupation of Singapore. Envisioned first as a spiritual and 
recreational centre for the future empire, then built by 
Australian POWs and Japanese craftsmen, today it exists 
only as stone relics and fragments, swallowed up by the 
thick tropical rainforest.

As young artists, we have embarked on a journey of 
discovery to reclaim this forgotten monument. Its very 
existence is intriguing– a beautiful artefact of civilisation 
from an age of blood and destruction. Its architects made 
outlandish promises: that the site would be the greatest in 
the world after the Meiji Shrine, that the area might be a 
future host for the Olympic Games.

Perhaps most provoking is the love-hate relationship 
between Singapore and the shrine. Historians and tourism 
promoters want it preserved, even rebuilt to commemorate
our national heritage. Ordinary citizens, however, have 
violently objected to any celebration of former Japanese 
rule– even as they happily consume Japanese commercial
and cultural products.

Led by director Choy Ka Fai, we are an ensemble of creative
people from Singapore and Japan with roots in poetry, 
dance, drama, architecture, sports and multimedia. We have
made pilgrimages to the jungle, probed the site scientifically, 
studied archival documents, drawings and oral histories, 
and processed our own collective memories to recreate and 
re-imagine the shrine as a sacred site.

Our performance, a tapestry of images, sound and 
movement, will be a drama of recollection, an attempt to 
capture the Syonan Jinja's sleeping spirit.

“Egypt has its pyramids, China its tomb of Shi Huang Ti, 
England its Stonehenge and Indonesia its Borobudur. 
Why not Syonan Jinja for Singapore?
It has its fair share of history, mystery and romance.” 
Report on Syonan Jinja Surveys September 1988. 
Records of Singapore Tourism Promotion Board.National Archive of Singapore.

'Twas the night before opening

And here's a word of warning for any audiences who're planning to spectate:

This is most of the gang. Clockwise from left: Rizman, Pat, Jiro, Norico, Ken, Charles, Azrin, Jasmine, Chuan, Ka Fai.

Kien Yen, our stills photographer, also came in today to immortalise us in digital film.

I stayed back with a few guys to lay out the seats.

Voila. (Actually, it was a real headache, exacerbated by my chronic rhinitis, but you don't wanna know about that.)

All systems go!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A piece of oral history I'm unfortunately not using in the show.

Gerald De’Cruz: Now I’d like to tell you a very interesting story that concerns Lee Kuan Yew. I’m not sure if I should tell it to you.

One day I received a phone call from Lee Kuan Yew, He said to me, Gerry, I want to see you tonight. It has to be a private meeting a very quiet meeting. Can you meet me at the 8th milestone, Upper Thompson Road? So I said, alright. You know at those times, Upper Thomson Road was a very sinister road. Full of secret societies and gangsters and all that a very dangerous road. But I went there 11 o’clock ant night, met at the 8th milestone and after a few minutes, Lee Kuan Yew turned up. We got into his car and drove off. We drove off into the MacRitchie reservoir.

We drove off into MacRitchie Reservoir and it was a very difficult place, full of trees and grass and all that. Natural reserve, but he seemed to know his way. He was quiet. I said, where are you going to? And he said, don’t worry, I recognise this place from this morning. And I’m going to a very quiet place where nobody will disturb us. I don’t want the Communists to know that I’m talking to you.

I remember telling him that if he would stop flirting with the Communists, or words to that effect, thing so would be much better between him and the rest of us. And he said, it’s alright Gerry, he said. Once I put all my cards on the table, everybody will understand. And I told him, don’t delay anymore. Because if you delay too long, people will grow to mistrust you. And whatever cards you show, they still won’t trust you. Or words to that effect.

And then we drove back. He dropped me in my car. And we drove off.

Yi-Sheng: Does anyone besides me find this unbelievably sexy?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life! article today

... in which the Syonan Jinja is called the "Syonan Jinga" (this is actually not unprecedented, given the problems of transliteration), and the broken pillars of the dam we use for the river crossing are misidentified as the ruins of the original bridge.


Gah! Got locked out of the dress rehearsal!!!

Director Choy Ka Fai's lost his handphone, and 72-13 is very soundproof at 10pm at night.

On the upside, we have our MDA licence. Woo-weet!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tanzyoobi Omedetoo!

We had a party to celebrate the birthdays of our performers Pat and Norico!

First, we all stopped by at East Coast Park to catch fellow performer Rizman Putra's "Jazzy Jazz and the Razzmatazz":

Then we went to TheatreWorks producer Tay Tong's home in Joo Chiat Road for dinner and drinks.

First it was just me, Pat, Norico and Ken and his wife Hiroko.

Tay Tong had ordered in some yummificacious Peranakan delicacies from Chili Padi. Buah keluak rice, anyone?

Around 10pm, the tech boys came in, tired and ravenous from having repaired a single light bulb. We washed up and gave them the next round of gustatory delights.

Here you may gain a glimpse of the absolute, pristine whiteness of Tay Tong's domicile. The yellow is mood lighting + my weird camera settings.

So good to see young men eating food.

A little later TT brought out the fruit bowl:

But by then Jiro was doing show-and-tell with his digital recordings of his experimental sets for fashion parades.

And some of us were just plain tired:

We did have a lovely cake, though:

Say goodbye to the birthday girls and TT. And let's try one more time for the perfect shot.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jazzy Jazz and the Razzmatazz!

The first production by Paradise Alley (Cake Theatrical Productions), directed by our performer Rizman Putra. Free at East Coast Park this Saturday afternoon.

Sharon Tang from Cake Theatrical Productions says:

Come and join us this Saturday 23 August [5.00pm & 6.30pm] at Marine Cove [East Coast Parkway] for Jazzy Jazz and The Razzmatazz, directed by our Associate Artist Rizman Putra!

Involving Contortionists, Bhangra Dancers, Dhol Players, Zapin Dancers, Rock & Roll band, Breakdancers, Beatboxer and contemporary performers, Jazzy Jazz and The Razzmatazz is a super wacky super bizarre super musical theatrical spectacle set to challenge any parade of dreams on this planet or in outer space!

Presented by Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation, Jazzy Jazz and The Razzmatazz is the first performance under our latest division Paradise Alley which was set up this year. It is also Rizman’s directorial debut and we are really excited about it! Paradise Alley is a free annual outdoor performance presented by Cake. Fusing experimental theatre with visual spectacle, Paradise Alley takes to the streets, bringing theatre into common spaces to capture, enthral and uplift the spirit and imagination of audiences in a diverse and electrifying gathering.

And there will be free popcorn if you say the password 'Paradise Alley'! Come and have a day out at the beach with us!

Hope to see you at Jazzy Jazz and The Razzmatazz!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bumping in.

And the gang's all here:

Norico and Ken.

You can't really see him in this pic, but one of the guys in black is Jiro. The guy in white is Yak Aik Wee, who's helping us out in the absence of a stage manager.

Rizman designed this headdress for his part. Here's Pat modelling it.

Surprisingly, it works very well on a Japanese face like Ken's.

Only a week and a half left till opening! Yaaaarrgggghhh!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Me @ Jinja

Our stills photographer Vivian Lee has graciously given me some shots from our journey to the Jinja, depicting yours truly - even though I wasn't one of the glamour-models in sports clothing posing for publicity.

This is all of us.

And this is me. (I fell asleep at the Jinja while they were doing photographs.)

Our delectable director Ka Fai and our mouth-watering multimedia assistant Paviter. (That's the river crossing in the background.)

Me with our pert performer Pat...

...and our rambunctious rocker/raconteur Rizman Rutra. I mean Putra.

Messy group shot. Till next time!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ka Fai has been inspired.

Therefore, there's a possibility that the second half of the show will be completely changed.

Oh how I love my director.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jiro's One Night Stand

Jiro felt bad for not spending enough time on this project. So he flew in and out from Bangkok for a night to confer with us on the set design.

Went with Ka5 to pick him up:

Also did an interview with Lianhe Zaobao for the run. Then flew off again, tweet-tweet.