By: Andre Frois
Adrian and Tracie Pang give you 5 reasons to catch Dragonflies
Published on 18 May 2018
Dragonflies returns to the stage at the Victoria Theatre from 18 May – 3 June after its sold-out stage debut at the 2017 Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA). The question is, why?
The new version of the play is set in the year 2021 where Brexit and Trump have the world spiralling out of control with widespread famine and war. As founders of one of the most acclaimed theatre companies in Singapore, the power couple speaks to the A List about the hidden wisdom tucked throughout Dragonflies, and how they prepared for such an emotionally charged play.
1. A play might be fiction, but Dragonflies is about the current reality we live in
Tracie: When we began crafting Dragonflies in 2016, the world was already in the throes of upheaval with global migration and the refugee crisis spreading across Europe. We were in the midst of Brexit and Trump was on the brink of coming into power, and climate change was hitting critical levels. When we staged the play in August 2017, all these issues had escalated even further. And now in mid-2018, the urgency of these topics is more pressing than ever. Dragonflies makes us face up to them in a dramatic, emotional and intellectual way.
2. Dragonflies encourages audiences to ponder Singapore’s various relationships with the rest of the world
Tracie: Singapore often feels like it is in its own safe little bubble, but I hope that this show makes us see that we are part of the world stage, and how close these issues are to home. If we stand by and do nothing, then some of what is shown in Dragonflies could easily come true.
3. Dragonflies is a story about one family’s survival.
Tracie: The show puts up a mirror to some of the ugly parts of human nature and a very possible future if we are not careful. It highlights a story of a family caught up in it all, and how easily that family could be us too.
4. It’s palpable how hard Adrian Pang researched and prepared for this role
Adrian: With any role, I guess I try to get as many clues as I can from the writing (and hope that the writing is good!). I do as much research as I can based on the context that the writer has built around the character and his journey. It’s a matter of figuratively slipping under the skin of the character to try to feel how his heart beats and how his mind processes the world, and trying to dig as deep as you can to achieve some kind of empathy and “one-ness” with the character. A huge part of the process of creating a character is imagination. In other words, making stuff up! And during the performance, being very present moment to moment so that you are really alive and responsive to infinite possibilities.
5. Dragonflies will make you thank your lucky stars—it did for Adrian
Adrian: I struggled with this role in Dragonflies a lot more than I was prepared for because I could not find a “way in”. Leslie Chen is a man who loses one thing after another, until he is literally homeless. During rehearsals I grew to realise more and more that I am in so many ways the polar opposite to him in terms of character, personality and situation, and a huge moment for me was exactly that – acknowledging how bloody lucky I am, how sheltered a life I live, and how grateful I am for it all, and how easily I could lose it all. This very plausible reality was a sock in the face for me (as I believe it will be for anyone and everyone) and this helped me inject a real sense of desperation and urgency in creating the character. And I have to say that in rehearsing for our re-staging of this play, I am discovering even more depths to the character and more dimensions to the story. As it has done for me, this play Dragonflies will really speak to many people, if they are willing to open their hearts and eyes.
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