One Small Voice: Rayann Condy

Published on 13 October 2015

Theatre director Rayann Condy turns her fascination with spaces into compelling site-specific performances.

I’m a Canadian citizen by birth. My dad’s British, which makes me a British citizen. Later, I migrated to Australia and because they’re all Commonwealth countries, I was allowed citizenship there, too. Now I’m based in Singapore only as a Permanent Resident, but somehow, I’ve chosen this country to settle down and run theatre company Skinned Knee Productions (SKP).

I was a pioneer graduate of LASALLE College of the Arts’ BA Honours Acting programme. By the time I completed the course in 2008, I had met so many interesting teachers, guest lecturers and fellow students, I wanted to stay and work with them. My friend Pavan Singh was successful in receiving a grant to develop what is now SKP. He got me involved to set up the structures so that young, up-and-coming artists would have a platform to work, particularly those from LASALLE, who use the same language and tools.

Since then, I’ve happily checked off many collaborators on my to-work-with list. But the list continues to grow. We no longer focus on LASALLE students, but welcome other theatre-makers too. At the same time, as Pavan and I still teach at LASALLE, we do keep talented students in mind when it comes to casting. Our focus at present is on giving driven individuals a platform to create their original works, what we informally dub our ‘training wheels’ programme.

Many alumni drama groups don’t last long because they’re primarily set up by actors who want to act. They soon realise there’s also a whole lot of unglamorous administration work involved! As for me, I’ve always been interested in producing and directing, even arranging it such that I got the opportunity to direct as part of the LASALLE acting programme.

SKP aims to fill a niche in Singapore.You have W!ld Rice producing big-scale work; you have The Necessary Stage or Cake Theatrical Productions producing established professional work at a more intimate level. What’s missing is the fringe work, the off-off Broadway experimental shows which don’t have to have a profit margin, but done for the love of it.

When our ‘training wheels’ artists produce projects with us, they’re also involved in the fund-raising process, learning to get sponsorships and grants. It also encourages creativity: how to do a show on a string and a dime? That’s where my own site-specific performances come in. I’ve always been fascinated by how different spaces speak — I’ve put up shows at beaches, bars, restaurants… it also helps stretch our budgets because theatres in Singapore are expensive.

Skinned Knee’s next production, Mind Map of Love, is a choose-your-own adventure set in a restaurant. The actors play the audiences’ friends, coming in to meet them for food and a chat. But soon, very different story possibilities unfold.

I’ve directed many stories since I’ve been here, some very Singaporean ones like Purple for Toy Factory Productions, which features lots of Hokkien. Obviously, that’s not my culture, but being a citizen of so many places, I’ve always felt comfortable being an outsider. I’m curious about people, of all the different cultures in Singapore, I’m curious about their different stories. I guess that’s why I’ve chosen to call this place home.

RAYANN CONDY is a graduate of LASALLE College of the Arts. She has directed several productions for I Theatre and Toy Factory Productions, but is proudest of her directing work for Skinned Knee Productions, of which she is co-artistic director. Some of her stage productions, like Debbie Isitt’s The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband and Richard Cameron’s Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down, enjoyed sell-out runs. Mind Map of Love opens next month.

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