COMPILED BY JOEL TAN
Published on 11 November 2014
Hailed by the UK’s Financial Times as “a repository of much of the territory’s best stage talents”, Checkpoint Theatre is helmed by joint-artistic directors Huzir Sulaiman and Claire Wong, and features a small stable of Associate Artists including playwright Faith Ng and actress Oon Shu An.
Compared to other professional theatre outfits in the country, Checkpoint has done a modest number of productions since 2002, about two shows a season. Nonetheless, its productions — like Sulaiman’s Occupation and Cogito, and Ng’s For Better or For Worse — routinely garner acclaim at the annual Life! Theatre Awards.
Checkpoint’s work combines razor-sharp writing and intelligent directing and acting, and isn’t easily classifiable: From comedies about Malaysian nuclear warfare, to the quiet tragedies of married life in Singapore, to a migrant-Indian tale of growing up far from home, Checkpoint’s palette is as varied as the theatre-makers it collaborates with.
Crosstalk, or 相声 (xiàngsheng), is a form of Chinese comedy that utilises nothing but witty dialogue and the skills of the performers. Built on puns and allusions inherent to Mandarin, it’s a sophisticated form of banter that’s performed by two actors using scripted exchanges. Occasionally, solo acts or groups of three or more people take the stage. It may be hilarious, but one of crosstalk’s traditional roles has been to cruelly satirise society.
If it’s written for the stage, Centre 42 wants in. Opened in April this year at the former Waterloo Street premises of Action Theatre, Centre 42 is equal parts theatre-research facility, creative incubator and archive. Theatre-makers looking for a platform to incubate new play ideas can approach Centre 42 for rehearsal space, guidance and funding. Recently-supported work includes Two Houses, an original site-specific play by Lim Yu-Beng that first opened at the George Town Festival in Penang as part of the Sin-Pen Colony artist exchange.
But it’s not just about creating new work. One of Centre 42’s biggest missions is creating an archive of Singapore theatre over the years and raising
awareness of the journey Singapore theatre has taken over the decades. Look out for The Vault, a series of lecture-performances focusing on Singapore plays dating as far back as the 1950s and 60s.