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Vertical Submarine / DUST: A Recollection

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Wednesday, 16 – Saturday, 19 November 2011, 8pm


Adapted from a Hokkien short story by Chien Swee Teng in his 1979 novel “Bak Teng” (Diced Meat), the enfant terribles of Singapore contemporary art, Vertical Submarine, invoke bittersweet tragedies of home and family with their theatrical debut in Dust: A Recollection. 


Fusing dioramas, dramaturgy and installation art, the performance unfolds over decades within a flat. It begins with a bitchy couple who pesters a young man to sell his apartment. We then hear the sounds of demolition and concrete debris falling, and an old man comes to life... 


The work features lighting design by Andy Lim (stage "LIVE"), costumes by Anthony Tan, music composed by Joe Ng; and is performed by an ensemble of bright Singapore actors comprising Amanda Tee, Audrey Luo, Ben Yap, Dominic Ng, Jo Tan, Neo Hai Bin, Nikko Aw and Rizman Putra. 


Dust: A Recollection offers an artistic tribute to the living, dead, neglected and forgotten spectral landscapes of modern Singapore. 


Vertical Submarine is a Singapore art collective comprising — in order of seniority — Joshua Yang, Justin Loke and Fiona Koh. According to them, they write. draw and paint a little but eat, drink and sleep more. They create installations, drawings and paintings, which often feature critical texts, epic narratives and an acquired sense of humour.


They have completed projects across Asia-Pacific, Europe and South America. Collectively. they have won the Credit Suisse Artist Residency Award, President's Young Talents Award, the Singapore Art Show Judges’ Choice and recently, as a finalist in the 2011 edition of the Celeste prize in New York City. Despite these accolades, they describe themselves as full-time 

pranksters with part-time jobs. 


Dust: A Recollection marks Vertical Submarine's second project with TheatreWorks following “Abusement Park”, where they laid siege to the Singapore Art Museum and displayed medieval instruments of torture, including a full-scale guillotine. Vertical Submarine is collectively one of TheatreWorks' Associate Artistic Directors. 

Chien Swee-Teng (1941 – 1987) was born in Singapore, the tropical island where he was to live and work all his life. Brought up in a rented partitioned room above a five-foot-way shophouse in Boon Tat Street, he received his secondary school education at Chinese High School, and was the only one in a family of nine children to go to university. Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Literature from Nanyang University with profound interest in literature and art in general, he taught in Deping Secondary School. In the 1970s, he left his post as a Chinese language teacher and became a taxi driver because of his absolute refusal to speak or write in English, not even for administrative purposes. However, this career of roaming the road ended early due to his phobia of driving after the trauma of witnessing a fatal traffic accident. He spent the latter part of his life as a night watch for various office and industrial buildings located in Shenton Way and Tuas areas. Consequently, the ample free time he had alone without disturbance became the most prolific period for this eclectic yet anti-colonial writer.

He started writing at an early age, but his first book "Nan Ting" (Listening to the Restive South) was only published in 1968, at the age of 27. His rather dark sense of humour and a rigorously intellectual style in works such as "Bak Teng" (Diced Meat), 1979 did not make him a popular author, although "Blades of the Sun" (1985), a 30-episode television series based on his wuxia genre novel of the same title, shown on SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) Channel 8, did make an impression on young viewers — especially boys and girls from 12 to 15, then. In 2006, his posthumous publication "Critique of a Spectacular Life" (1989), a two-volume collection of poems, essays and aphorisms written in Hokkien dialect, was translated into English by Recto Books.


With support from National Arts Council, Lee Foundation, Keppel Nights, Double Six Press Pte Ltd and Webvisions.



Thursday, 1 – Saturday, 3 September 2011, Tuesday, 6 – Saturday, 10 September 2011, 8pm 

This play is about the complacency of the average Singaporean, of theatre audiences and practitioners because there is no danger, no real change enacted by our works. It is about the commercialisation of theatre; hijacked as entertainment rather than being an engine of change. Can we find a real political theatre, where the audience goes in X and comes out Y? This is the difficulty in writing this kind of work in this day and age, hence the long gap between my last play and this one.

- Tan Tarn How, playwright


Respected Singapore playwright Tan Tarn How returns to the forefront of Singapore theatre with the debut of Fear of Writing, his first full-length play in 10 years. 


Fear of Writing portrays a playwright's creative handicap — the writer's block — under intense anxiety and scrutiny. Through this crisis, Tan uncovers the existentialism of self- censorship and freedoms in Singapore. An urgent provocation of the country's boundaries — as bound to art, artist, citizen and humanity. 


The work marks Tan's reunion with Cultural Medallion recipient Ong Keng Sen, Artistic Director of TheatreWorks, who has directed most of his earlier plays as world premieres. Their collaboration began through TheatreWorks Writers' Lab in the nineties, a groundbreaking phase for Singapore theatre in voicing the nation's identity and spirit through dramatic writing, and where Tan nurtured his playwright's voice as an incisive commentary on Singapore society and politics. 


In The Lady of Soul and Her Ultimate "S" Machine (1993), this landmark play presented a satirical comedy of Singapore's drive to promote the arts, as envisioned by civil servants; while in The First Emperor's Last Days (1998), the play imagined four writers tasked under detention and surveillance — to pen the posthumous biography of a country's first great ruler. 


In 2011, Fear of Writing proposes a theatrical parable for the politics of today, a future for the Singapore dream.

With support from National Arts Council, Arts Fund, Kuo Pao Kun Foundation, Lee Foundation, Hong Leong Foundation, Double Six Press Pte Ltd and Webvisions.


Joavien Ng / Jochen Roller - The Screw Of Thought

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Choreographic lab

Monday, 6 – Friday, 10 June 2011

$100 per participant 


The Screw of Thought is a choreographic lab that encourages conceptual thinking as a process in dance making, to expand the boundaries of dance and to reflect on the system of dance education in Singapore. Rather than promoting another school of thought, the lab will gather up to 10 diverse participants to 'unscrew' their rules of dance over a stimulating five-day programme at 72-13, home of TheatreWorks. Dance practitioners from all levels of experience and training, including related forms such as physical theatre, are welcome to apply. 


The Screw of Thought is conceived and led by Singapore dance artist Joavien Ng ( in collaboration with dance dramaturg Jochen Roller (; and marks TheatreWorks' commitment to nourishing Singapore's dance ecology for the future. 


Joavien Ng was born in 1973 in Singapore. She began her choreographing and performing career in 1997 after graduating from Lasalle College of the Arts. Her works have since been presented by various Singapore and international arts organizations such as the Esplanade, Singapore Arts Festival, Kampnagel (Germany), Contemporary Dance of Fort Worth (USA), Little Asia Dance Exchange Network, Alkantara (Portugal) and Singapore Art Museum. She first collaborated with Jochen Roller in Body Swap (2009), which was presented at Kampnagel and the Singapore Arts Festival. Her other works include LAB (2008) commissioned by the Esplanade and Body Inquire (2008) for the Singapore Arts Festival. 


Joavien's artistic interest evolves around the construction of identity, drawing from her experience of being both an Asian and a global citizen. Her most recent work, The Diary of Alice (2011) in collaboration with Paloma Calle (Spain), investigated the fascinating universe of identities — fact, fiction or otherwise — that the name 'Alice' holds. Joavien has been appointed Associate Artistic Director of TheatreWorks where she is developing Body Search for its premiere in 2012, the final edition in her trilogy of works on identity following Body Inquire and Body Swap



Jochen Roller was born in 1971 in Berlin, Germany. At age 4, he started training in classical ballet. After finishing high school, he studied at various universities in Gießen, Paris and London. Jochen holds a M.A. degree in Applied Theatre Studies and a M.A. degree in Dance Studies. Since graduation, he has created over 40 projects in multiple art forms, mainly dance and performance art but also in theatre and film. His projects have toured extensively throughout Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia. His dance works were represented at the German National Dance platforms in 2004 and 2006. From 2007 until 2010, Jochen curated the seasonal dance program of Kampnagel (Hamburg, Germany). In 2008 he founded with 7 European partners the network A Space For Live Art and directed the annual Live Art Festival in Hamburg


Jochen has been teaching at various universities, among them the universities of Berlin (FU, HZT), Hamburg (Performance Studies), Frankfurt (HfmdK), Cologne (HfMT), Zürich (ZHdK), Bern (HKB), San José (El Barco) and Singapore (Lasalle). He has performed for other choreographers and directors such as Thomas Lehmen, Angela Guerreiro, Isabelle Schad, Gintersdorfer/Klaßen, Ami Garmon and Matthias von Hartz. As dramaturg, he has been involved in productions by Joavien Ng, Monica Antezana and Jecko Siompo. In 2011, Jochen will facilitate the choreographers' exchange of tanzconnexions in the frame of the 8th Asian-Pacific Weeks in September in Berlin as well as the premiere of a new solo work in August in the same city. 


Teater Ekamatra - Bersendaloka

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Performance (Triple Bill)

Thursday, 3 – Saturday, 5 March 2011


Bersendaloka is colloquial Malay for “coming together to share”. It was a triple-bill of plays written and directed by young emerging theatre practitioners who wanted to share their stories. The three works featured were :



Potret is written and directed by Agnes Christina, performed by Clement Dian Perdana Darmawan and Nina Mareta Kosasih, and features multimedia by Nicholas Ydifar.

Singgan sana

Singgan sana is directed by Habibah Mohckeram, written by Khalid Supandi and Ruzaini Rashid, and performed by MEREKA, a 13-member ensemble.


W.C. is written and directed by Irfan Kasban, and performed by Rafaat Haji Hamzah and Hatta Said.


All three works were performed in Bahasa & Malay with English Surtitles.


Teater Ekamatra is a non-profit theatre company that is dedicated to developing and producing socially relevant plays that reflects the contemporary Singaporean vernacular. Teater Ekamatra believes in integrating the arts, social services and the different cultures as a vehicle for entertainment, education, tolerance and affecting social change. The company believes that theatre must be seen as an integral part of Singapore’s artistic evolution. To renew itself, theatre must constantly reassess its role in society and address what role it may play in the future.


In existence since 1988, Teater Ekamatra is recognised for its dedication and commitment to developing and expanding definitions and forms of Malay Theatre. Teater Ekamatra does not define nor restrict Malay Theatre to performances in the Malay language, but seek to give voice and visibility to the Malay condition and experience with regards to contemporary local and global climate. Ultimately, Teater Ekamatra is about cultural pluralism, individual equality and artistic excellence.


The Abbreviation Trilogy - DNR

Open Call

As part of the OPEN CALL programme, 72-13 hosted the creative process of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR). It is one part of a trilogy presented by The Abbreviation Trilogy, a collective that is dedicated to bringing theatre back to basics: just actors and audience in a space. The Abbreviation Trilogy is also a homage to Singapore's love for short-forms and abbreviations and Singapore's attempts to unearth what is beneath those alphabets and dots: the ordinary man and woman, in a not very ordinary situation.

DNR is performed by Karen Tan, Gerald Chew & Serene Chen and written & directed by Robin Loon. It will be staged in collaboration with Esplanade — Theatres on the Bay as part of The Studios 2011, from 7 to 9 April 2011.

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