“The lights go down and the actors walk on stage, transforming into familiar figures – teachers, administrators, students – with mannerisms, cadence and a liberal use of ‘Singlish’ that offers a reflection of their audience.
The first words that explode out of a teenage actor’s mouth is a string of Hokkien curses. “Work so hard! Rehearse so hard! And you, Jali! Cannot even remember your lines. Damn screw up the show,” he berates his classmates.
A group of high school students in the audience snigger: “Eh, last time my class also got like that, leh!” a boy whispers to his friends in the same accent coming from the cast onstage.
The play, Those Who Can’t, Teach, is being re-staged by the Necessary Stage (TNS) as part of the theatre company’s 30th anniversary line-up. It’s a classic TNS production: a character-driven story that places ‘Singaporean-ness’ front and centre, with all its quirks and complexities.
But there is no easy way to tell Singapore’s story, as TNS has shown since artistic director Alvin Tan started the company.
“TNS tackles difficult issues and keeps demonstrating that theatre is a public space for discourse, and that people can participate in discourse with deep emotion and intellectual rigour,” said Kok Heng Leun, artistic director of the Drama Box theatre company. …”
Read Kirsten Han’s profile of The Necessary Stage on SEA Globe.