The play was initially written by Jean Tay, and then workshopped and further devised by the artistic team, of which I was a part, at a three week workshop in Singapore, followed by a workshop production at the M1 Singapore International Fringe Festival: Art of the Animal. During the workshop period one of the major areas of exploration was how the environment affected the movement and the story, which takes place in both a prison and in the mind of the imprisoned writer. The scenes that took place in the imagination were told visually through shadow and live puppets. Our collaboration team, prominent Singaporean actors and a director trained in traditional Chinese opera mixed with American experimental devisors made for a challenging and vibrant collaboration. I received a Paul Franz Grant to travel to Singapore for this extended period during my pre-tenure sabbatical. Although logistics sometimes make it difficult for me to bring student designers as assistants, the timing of this project presented a perfect opportunity for Laura Pressler, a promising design student. As her mentor, I helped her prepare a successful Strohl grant proposal to accompany me to Singapore. In addition the usual script analysis, drafting, model-building and technical rehearsal process, Laura was included fully in our devising sessions and learned first-hand a completely new way of making theatre. We also spent time attending other plays at the festival, going to museums and soaking up the rich Singaporean culture.
The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival is an annual festival of theatre, dance, music, visual arts and mixed media created and presented by Singaporeans and international artists. Themed differently each year, the Festival aims to bring the best of contemporary, cutting-edge and socially engaged works to the Singapore audience. The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival is set to be a creative centre, with the twin purpose of innovation and discussion, a platform for meaningful and provocative art to engage our increasingly connected and complex world. Formed in 1987 as the Necssary Stage, the producer of the Fringe, our mission is to create challenging and innovative theatre that touches the heart and mind. Having presented more than 100 original plays in Singapore and abroad, TNS remains focused on breaking new ground in original local content and intercultural exploration.