The Wright Stuff

Published on 16 July 2017

The Wright Stuff presents plays with all-fresh ingredients: New playwrights, young directors, a fresh venue and up-and-coming actors

By Jo Tan

Singapore may be small, but don’t think you’ve seen it all – the theatre scene is bursting at the seams with raw talent from playwrights to directors and actors, and audiences will get to see them all in Toy Factory’s The Wright Stuff.

While being a playwright incubation programme – this brand new initiative selected four fledgling scripts from an open call, took them through a phase of development and now presents them as full productions –  the productions have provided ample opportunity to showcase different fresh faces. Stanley Seah, brandishing a new MA in directing from London’s East 15 Acting School, will be directing Tan Jia Yee’s piece Chicken Curry, about a daughter dealing with her mother’s impending death. Jamil Schulze, newly graduated from the BA(Hons) Acting Programme at LASALLE College of the Arts, stars in Al Hafiz Sanusi’s Sejarah-ku, about a Malayan-Anglican girl attempting to document the legendary Hikayat of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. New mother Daphne Quah performs as a young parent in Gina Chew’s Permanence. And of course, the playwrights – all in their twenties and thirties – are fresh faces as well. Samantha Chia, like some of the other writers, has considerable practical theatre experience, having been a stage manager for several years, but A Piece of Cake is the very first play she has personally written to see the stage.

Jamil is chuffed to bits to make his professional debut with Sejarah-ku, saying “At LASALLE, we’ve covered a range of established scripts from Shakespeare to Beckett. But working on a brand new play always brings a fresh excitement – of breathing life and giving voice to a story no one has heard yet. And everyone has a stake in the writing because the very words of these new scripts are still works in progress. You have the playwright, in the flesh, there with you in the rehearsal room to dissect, discuss and negotiate. Then when the audience comes in, you come together as a community and watch something grow.”

But most importantly, Seah – who is also a playwright and even submitted his own scripts to The Wright Stuff before they were picked up for possible stagings in other avenues – believes that this initiative will help all the growing talents in it to develop and become fine additions to our theatre scene. “To be able to mount a production at the end of the script writing process is a precious opportunity. It is exactly what these budding playwrights need in this moment. Hopefully we are able to stage four different plays that everyone will enjoy. But more importantly, I hope the playwrights will get much, much more in the long term and continue to create work that enriches the industry.”

Chia says, “I’ve been writing and drafting A Piece of Cake for about 6 years but I was never sure if it would be performed. Even after getting selected to be part of The Wright Stuff, I actually thought the script would just receive a reading and was quite nervous to find out it would be staged! Thankfully, everyone has been supportive and very encouraging. Feedback and many readings helped me see my blind spots and give me invaluable points of view.”

Meanwhile, Quah – with acting experience in such established productions as Toy Factory’s acclaimed Titoudao – is far from troubled by the youth and/or rawness of the talents around her. In fact, she’s been drinking it in. “I’m a mother now, but being part of all this makes me feel youthful by proxy,” she laughs. “It’s very invigorating –  The journey of a freelance theatre practitioner can be a grueling one and it’s very easy to get jaded and stuck in your ways! Being surrounded by such youthful energy keeps you energized and on your toes. I hope the audience will feel the same way as well!”

And of course, all these intimate plays take place in a sparkling new space – nowPlaying@17, an edgy shophouse floor in Chinatown, which hasn’t hosted performances in years. It’s a completely fresh experience, so if new pleases you, get your tickets for The Wright Stuff, running 22 July to 7 August below here.


Permanence

Chicken Curry

Sejarah- Ku

A Piece Of Cake

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