Discovery Of The Week: WILD RICE @ Funan
What: We’ve watched a lot of theatre productions in Singapore, but none have felt as immersive as the re-staging of Thomas Lim’s ‘Supervision’, which we caught at the tail end of WILD RICE’s Housewarming Season in mid-August. While much of the show’s spellbinding power can be credited to its script and performances, the newly-opened Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre was a star in its own right, fostering an intimacy that was both enjoyable and disconcerting. With a ‘thrust’ stage that extends into the auditorium on three sides, the acoustics are such that no mics are needed, and despite the venue’s tall ceilings, the furthest seat is only 12m away from the actors. Perched on the upper balcony, as if spying atop the stairs, we couldn’t help feeling like the events unfolding beneath us were happening in our own living rooms.
Where: The 358-seater theatre, which is the first of its kind in Singapore, is located in the newly-renovated Funan mall. Modeled after The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon Avon, small design touches, like teak wood panels inspired by old National Theatre and air-conditioning pumped beneath the seats, give the Colosseum-like interior some local flair.
Who: Just a year shy of WILD RICE’s 20th anniversary, WILD RICE @ Funan, which officially opened in September, is a passion project by Founding Artistic Director Ivan Heng and Executive Director Tony Trickett. The design team includes Singaporean architecture studio Zarch Collaboratives and international theatre design consultancy Charcoalblue.
Why: As excited as we are when global favourites like The Lion King and The Phantom Of The Opera come to town, there’s something special about partaking in a bit of homecooked food, so to speak. This stage, unlike many others, does so much more than entertain. By telling stories of Singapore, by Singaporeans, it invites us to confront characters, themes, and situations that we might avoid — or be sheltered from — in real life. We spent the whole ride home after 'Supervision' discussing eldercare, how we treat domestic workers, and the lengths to which we would exchange privacy for convenience. We laughed with the characters, and we cried with them, but most importantly, we've allowed their stories to change how we think about our own.
When: WILD RICE is in the midst of its Grand Opening Season, which began with the iconic 'Emily Of Emerald Hill'. You can learn more about the upcoming productions here.