Podcast 39: Toy Factory’s “A Dream Under the Southern Bough” at SIFA 2018

Duration: 19 mins

A Dream Under The Southern Bough by Toy Factory is a series of three plays commissioned by the Singapore International Festival of Arts, to be staged over three editions of the festival. The first instalment, titled The Beginning, premieres at SIFA 2018 later this month.

This three-part modern-day spin on the classic Ming Dynasty opera plays with the subtle divide between fact and fantasy, reality and dreamscapes. Directed by Toy Factory artistic director Goh Boon Teck, it’s a 21st century adaptation of a Kun opera from the 16th century by renowned Chinese playwright Tang Xian Zu. A disgraced naval officer slips into an oneiric other-world while snoozing under a tree – where he discovers an Ant Kingdom. As the plot thickens, the audience is led to question the nature of time and reality, offering a curious and philosophical story to ponder about long after curtain call.

We chat with assistant director Stanley Seah to learn more about the whimsical epic and its relevance to modern times, and the journey of bringing to life this ambitious production.


Stream Podcast 39 via Soundcloud:

Download Podcast 39 here. (right-click and select ‘Save Link As’ on Windows; control+click and select ‘Save Link As’ on Apple)

Stanley Seah in conversation

Rehearsal Photographs



A Dream Under the Southern Bough – The Beginning runs 30 April – 1 May at the SOTA Studio Theatre. A Dream Under the Southern Bough is a Singapore International Festival of the Arts Commission.

This article is sponsored by The Arts House Limited.

About the author(s)

Kathy Rowland is the Managing Editor of ArtsEquator.com, a registered charity that she co-founded with Jenny Daneels in 2016. The site is dedicated to supporting and promoting arts criticism with a regional perspective in Southeast Asia. Kathy has worked in the arts for over 25 years, working in the areas of critical writing and arts advocacy, with a special interest in media platforms for the arts. She is the Project Lead for ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asian Arts and Culture Censorship Documentation Project, launched in 2021. She has written extensively on censorship of arts and culture in Malaysia. She was a member of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, 2019.

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