A pinch of nostalgia here, a drop of postcolonial angst there

Theatregoers rejoice, for The Esplanade’s inspiring incubatory programme is back. From Mar 28-Apr 27, annual theatre series The Studios will present the Singaporean works—both old and new—that have been developing under keen mentorship for the last year. 2018’s theme explored temporality with “Between Living and Dying”. This year, that same strand of subdued existentialism is expanded upon, with “The Weight of a Stone in a Pocket”—an image (and feeling) meant to convey both reassuring familiarity and unsettling irregularity.
 

Rubber Girl on the loose


Get ready for a bumpy, extremely political ride with Rubber Girl, the exaggerated epitome of a rebel with a cause. This play by playwright and director Natalie Hennedige explores the seeming impossibility of living life by one’s own terms, without compromise—through subversive references to Greek mythology, violent dance and powerful dialogues. Mar 28-31


Miss British


Just in time for The (dreaded) Bicentennial, this new original commission excavates the prejudices and social hierarchies left behind by global colonialism—investigated through the politicised body of “Miss British”. Does she represent the coloniser or the colonised? Find out for yourself in this mixed-medium work comprising theatre, dance and video installation. Directed by Felipe Cervera and starring familiar faces Sharon Frese, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, and Loo Zihan. Apr 4-7


Mergers and Accusations


Taking the time to revisit and celebrate seminal Singaporean works, The Studios presents a reworking of Eleanor Wong’s iconic Mergers and Accusations, a piece first staged in the ‘90s to critical success. Lawyer Ellen is happily married to her best friend Jonathan—but not really, seeing as she’s a closeted lesbian putting on a front in the workplace. When openly gay lawyer Lesley comes into the picture one day, things get messy. The story may take inspiration from Wong’s legal background, but plays out more as a tale about the heart than a courtroom drama. Now a classic in the canon of local theatre, it’s been staged by TheatreWorks and Wild Rice; and in April will see director Chen Yingxuan at the helm. Apr 11-14
 

My Grandfather’s Road


Not entirely new, My Grandfather’s Road is the personal memoir of theatre-maker Neo Kim Seng—a man who can actually lay claim to the title, having grown up on Neo Pee Teck Lane, a side road named after his paternal grandfather. In it he explores the intimate stories of his childhood and how they’ve shaped him into the person he is today. The piece was first created in 2015 for Cake Theatrical Productions’ 10th Anniversary programme Running with Strippers, and revived again in 2017 as a Cantonese monologue for Centre 42. This time round, it adds new unearthed stories, speculations and forgotten histories to an already rich body of work. You can catch an English version performed by Karen Tan and Loong Seng Onn, as well as a Cantonese one performed by Tan Cher Kian and Gary Tang. Apr 18-21


The Studios runs from Mar 28-Apr 27 at Esplanade Theatre Studio. Tickets and more information available here.