The ABC: Issue 28

Published on 27 October 2015

COMPILED BY JOEL TAN

W!LD RICE

One of Singapore’s most well-known and celebrated theatre companies, W!ld Rice has gained a reputation for its distinctly Singaporean programming and large-scale theatrical shows. Formed in 2000, it created a big bang with its landmark production of Stella Kon’s Emily of Emerald Hill. The much-loved monodrama was helmed by artistic director and Cultural Medallion recipient Ivan Heng, who played the title character in a now-signature, female-impersonating performance. The company has continued to blaze ahead with adaptations of Western classics such as Blithe Spirit, The Visit and An Enemy of the People. It also created a major platform for the staging of Singapore playwrights in the form of the biennial Singapore Theatre Festival, first held in 2006. Theatre director Glen Goei joined the company as associate artistic director after making his directorial debut with 2001’s Blithe Spirit. Playwright and Young Artist Award recipient Alfian Sa’at, currently the company’s resident playwright, is another member of W!ld Rice’s key artistic team. The company has toured major productions such as The Importance of Being Earnest and Animal Farm to countries like Australia and Macau.

ANDY WARHOL

A defining figure in 20th-century art, pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol is legendary for his work in visual art that combined the seemingly disparate fields of art making, commercialism and celebrity culture. Born in Pittsburgh, he moved to New York City in 1949 and worked as an advertisement illustrator. He gained fame for his ink drawings and was hired to create graphic work for album covers and associated collaterals in the then-booming vinyl-record industry. The work for which he is most famous, paintings of symbols of American culture (ranging from banal soup cans to icons like Marilyn Monroe), emerged in the 1960s. Around the same time, he founded the underground arts movement surrounding his famous studio, The Factory. Warhol died in 1987 having led a seismic shift in popular culture and art. He created a vision of a life-led-as-art, blurring the lines between mass and high culture, a legacy that continues to thread through much of modern art today.

 (Illustration Jimmy Lee)

CYRIL WONG

Mention Singapore poetry and Cyril Wong comes up within a few beats. Known for his intensely personal and powerful compositions, he has been dubbed Singapore’s “first truly confessional poet”. To date, Wong has authored 16 books, ranging from poetry to criticism and short fiction, on top of contributions to numerous international journals. The homegrown bard has earned much acclaim for his raw and private introspection combined with rich, meditative lyricism, writing that is at once tender, vulnerable, acerbic and cutting. He studied at the National University of Singapore (NUS) where, as an undergraduate pursuing a degree in English Literature, he received mentorship from pioneering poet and NUS Emeritus Professor, Edwin Thumboo. Wong went on to earn a doctorate in English from NUS. Apart from the private and confessional, Wong’s work harbours a distinct political edge. One of his most recent collections, The Dictator’s Eyebrow, renders the political struggle for power in distinctly personal terms. Wong was a recipient of the Young Artist Award in 2005.

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