2017 has been one of W!LD RICE’s most challenging and rewarding seasons to date. Over the past 12 months, we have worked incredibly hard to produce world-class theatre of which we can be proud, telling stories that resonated powerfully with an audience of 46,993 people of all ages and from all walks of life.
We staged fresh revivals of our most critically acclaimed productions, developed and presented new Singapore writing, and nurtured the next generation of theatre talent and audiences. And we proudly represented Singapore at the OzAsia Festival in Australia.
We couldn’t have done it without your passionate support. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your unwavering faith in W!LD RICE and the work we do.
Looking back on 2017
We kicked off the season with La Cage Aux Folles, a brand-new adaptation of the iconic Broadway sensation. Not content to sit on the laurels of our 2012 Esplanade production, Glen and I were keen to reimagine our hit musical anew, and to bring it even closer to home. I personally relished reprising the role of Albin opposite the wonderful Sean Ghazi as George; and with new choreography, sets, costumes and lights, the intimate setting of the Victoria Theatre worked to amplify this musical’s urgent message about the importance of love, family and being able to say, out loud, ‘I Am What I Am’.
Next up was a new production of Marc Camoletti’s classic farce, Boeing Boeing – one of the most beloved plays in the W!LD RICE repertoire. Updating the show and spreading our wings wider across Asia (by featuring recognisable characters from China, India, Manila, Malaysia and Singapore), director Pam Oei and her remarkably talented young cast brought the production right up to the present, making audiences roar in laughter and appreciation every night!
In the last week of September, we pulled off a feat that seems super-human in retrospect. We opened two shows in the same weekend, in two different countries! It was particularly memorable for us because we believe that these two shows represent the very best of Singapore theatre – brave, heartfelt original writing, brought to life by some of the best artists in the business.
At home, Grandmother Tongue played to packed houses for close to a month; the show sold out before it even opened! We remain so moved by the way in which this incredibly special show has touched people. By speaking to them in a dialect of the heart, Thomas Lim’s play attracted new audiences who had never been to the theatre before.
A continent away, HOTEL made its international premiere at the 2017 OzAsia Festival in Adelaide. It was an electric thrill for us to perform this five-hour epic for Australian audiences. Not only did we have the opportunity to fly the Singapore flag overseas, the standing ovations and acclaim HOTEL received also proved that there is an international audience for Singaporean stories.
Upon returning to Singapore, we held our annual fundraising RICE BALL – Once Upon A Time. Our guests, who helped us raise money to secure the future of W!LD RICE, were invited into a fairy-tale land of magic and adventure that featured performances by some of the region’s finest performers.
Last, but certainly not least, we rounded off the year with Mama White Snake, with my dearest friend and colleague, Glen, making a fabulous comeback to the stage after an absence of three decades. Directed by Pam Oei, with word by Alfian Sa’at and music by Elaine Chan, it was one of the most complex and ambitious endeavours we’ve ever attempted, incorporating chinese opera, wushu, and puppetry into the musical mix. A hit with audiences and critics, this marvellous production brought magic and a sense of wonder and awe to audiences. We are very proud of how our annual holiday musical has evolved over the years. We may have borrowed the pantomime tradition from the UK, but we’ve most certainly made it our own.
In addition to our main season, the fourth cohort of young & W!LD, our education and youth division, completed their 18-month journey of discovery earlier this year. In collaboration with programme directors Rodney Oliveiro and Serena Ho, the ensemble staged their two final showcases – Crossings, a sold-out double-bill of bold original writing; and their madcap take on Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist classic, The Bald Soprano.
What you can expect in 2018, and beyond
Even as 2017 draws to a close, we’re already hard at work on our next season. We are presently finalising our programme for the sixth edition of the Singapore Theatre Festival – a celebration of original local writing and new talent.
Hossan Leong, Jonathan Lim and Elaine Chan, our talented creative triumvirate, have begun working on next year’s holiday pantomime, A Christmas Carol, which will place our very own W!LD twist on Charles Dickens’ classic tale. And plans are well underway for our annual Rice Ball, scheduled for 5 October 2018, so please save the date!
Even as we plan and prepare for next year’s season, we are also moving forward with our vision of building a new home for W!LD RICE. We’ll have much more news for you about W!LD RICE @ Funan in 2018, but we hope you’re as excited as we are at the prospect of creating the most engaging, inclusive and accessible arts venue in Singapore!
For now, we’re looking forward to welcoming you to the theatre next year for a season that will challenge, inspire and entertain. Until we meet again, here’s wishing you love, joy and magic for the holiday season – and may 2018 bring you on the adventure of a lifetime!
Founding Artistic Director