The 1962 play Mimi Fan by Lim
The 1962 play Mimi Fan by Lim Chor Pee, widely recognised as Singapore’s first English-language play, featured two Indian characters, Baram and Sheila Rani. In the ’70s and ’80s, playwrights Robert Yeo and Michael Chiang showcased more Indian characters in their plays. While Yeo’s were politically-minded individuals with oratorical gifts, Chiang’s were larger-than-life scene-stealers in sparkling comedies. In the 1990s, complex and even iconic roles were written, from Vinod in Haresh Sharma’s Off Centre to Nisha in Elangovan’s Talaq.
However, from the 2000s onwards, fewer roles were being created for actors of Indian ethnicity. Some playwrights claimed the acting pool had dried up. But some actors counter-claimed that there was little substantial work for them in the theatre industry.
Written by Aswani Aswath and dramaturged by Alfian Sa’at, Absence Makes the Heart… is an attempt to trace the presence and absence of Indian roles in Singapore English-language theatre, from the early days of its birth to the present moment. Featuring the actors Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, Sivakumar Palakrishnan and Grace Kalaiselvi, the work will ask: How much do we miss those who have gone missing?
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