Head into Geylang with young & W!LD!

In May 2015, W!LD RICE will present Geylang, a brand new play that explores and challenges pre-conceptions about Singapore’s most colourful district.

Created and performed by young & W!LD, W!LD RICE’s youth development division, the six original stories woven into this production provide glimpses into the inner lives of mamasans, gangsters and civil servants living, dying and working in Geylang.

Geylang is the result of a month-long improvisation workshop geared at challenging the members of young & W!LD to test their own limits as theatre-makers.

“As the focus of this programme is theatre-making, we want to stretch and push everyone in young & W!LD. I wanted them to re-imagine a familiar place like Geylang, to see what stories they could find there,” explains Serena Ho, co-director of Geylang and one of young & W!LD’s programme directors. “Hopefully, as artists, they can find new inspirations and ideas in the process.”

The young & W!LD ensemble were encouraged to push boundaries and question taboos in their stories and improvisations. Primarily, they were urged to examine Geylang’s status as one of Singapore’s red-light districts, but to go beyond common stereotypes and misconceptions in crafting their narratives.

“Taking a hard look at taboos and deconstructing them gives artists so many story-telling opportunities,” notes playwright Rodney Oliveiro, who shares directing duties with Ho on Geylang and young & W!LD.

“In a workshop, I asked everyone to write the filthiest story they could think of,” recounts Oliveiro. “The twist was that they members of the company had to act out one another’s stories. The result was foul, filthy but also fantastic. Some of these stories are so sordid that they will never see the light of day. But, as an exercise, it really broke down walls and reservations, and pushed our actors towards devising some excellent material for the play.”

Oliveiro led the young & W!LD ensemble on a field trip to Geylang, where they could experience the night life in the district for themselves.

“The field trip provided us with so much insight into the very heart of Geylang,” recalls Loh An Lin of young & W!LD. “It was a full-on sensory experience that we folded into all of our improvisation work and, ultimately, the stories and characters that make up our version of Geylang.”

Following last year’s sold-out run of Little Riots and Other StoriesGeylang is one of the milestone showcases for this cohort of young & W!LD participants.

“It’s been so gratifying for us to watch these talented theatre-makers grow in confidence and ambition over the past year,” says Ivan Heng, Artistic Director of W!LD RICE. “To see them pushing the envelope with Geylang is a powerful reminder of why we all make theatre: to question, to challenge, and also to entertain.”

Geylang runs from 13 to 17 May 2015 at 10 Square @ Orchard Central.

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