Singapore Arts Festival 2007 Presents Full Frontal




25 MAY -24 JUNE 2007




Full Frontal





19 & 20 June, 8pm


Esplanade Theatre Studio




140mins (with intermission)


Post-show dialogue with Peter Sau and Li Xie on 19 June


Marking another milestone in the Festival’s development, a new series will throw the focus on supporting the next generation of theatre makers and underscores the Festival’s role in nurturing artistic excellence. Following the success of last year’s Forward Moves, a similar programme for young choreographers, Full Frontal will profile Singapore’s emerging theatre directors and aims to seed the development of local works.


Under this programme, young Singapore theatre practitioners, Peter Sau and Li Xie, will flex their directorial muscles for the first time in the Festival with fresh interpretations of two inspiring works from Singapore’s theatre canon. Two experienced Singapore directors and dramaturgs, Kok Heng Leun and Dr Robin Loon, have been appointed as mentors to Sau and Li, to support and guide their creative process in their Festival debut as directors.


The launch of this new platform opens a new window for promising talent, including actors, to flex their directorial muscles on an international platform. Audiences will also be able to savour some of Singapore’s outstanding theatrical texts which have been previously performed to critical acclaim. As the Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, this programme also serves as a tribute to brilliant playwrights and directors who have enriched Singapore’s arts heritage and inspired younger generations of theatre talent.


Sau, a bilingual actor and drama teacher, has chosen Tan Tarn How’s Machine for his professional directing debut. First presented in 2002 by TheatreWorks, the play tells the story of two repairmen who turn up at the home of two listless girlfriends and the disturbing relationship between them. Sau described, “Machine is a straightforward play with latent undertones, such as the repression and desires of a modern day person. The work is very much a reflection of our society, and how everyone is filled with inhibitions. The script seems deceptively simple, yet much complexity and confusion arise when the plot is ingenuously revealed as the play progresses.”


A pioneer graduate of the Theatre Training and Research Programme co-founded by the late Kuo, Sau had given up his junior college education for a career in theatre and has not looked back since. Sau named Kuo as one of the earliest influences on him, and professed his great admiration for Kuo and his use of visual metaphors on stage. Sau said his own directorial style will involve the use of juxtapositions such as between dark and light, to create moments of tension in the performance of Machine. The play will feature veteran actor Mohamed Fita Helmi, alongside theatre and small screen actors Chermaine Ang and Rodney Olivero, as well as freelance actor and lighting designer Mia Chee.


Li, a Young Artist Award recipient for theatre in 2005, will revisit the late theatre doyen, Kuo Pao Kun’s A Little White Sailing Boat. The gripping tale of a man’s search for redemption was first staged in the 1982 Singapore Festival of Arts. A talented theatre performer, playwright, director, and mask maker, Li explained her choice of work, “This is a quiet play with poetic imagery and stage lines. It encapsulates the essence of Kuo’s works as well as the notion of the death of idealism, which I personally feel strongly about. When it was performed in the 1980s, it was relevant to the political environment and the values of the generation then. I believe that the younger generation of audiences should watch this play to understand the thinking of the older generation.”


To Li, the play was a classic and she aimed to downplay her personal style to preserve the poetic feel in Kuo’s work. Li’s play features seasoned actors, Johnny Ng and Goh Guat Kian, who had worked closely with the late Kuo. Ng also performed in the 1982 premiere of A Little White Sailing Boat. Other actors include Tay Kong Hui, Doreen Toh, and Danny Yeo.


Through Full Frontal, Sau and Li present an intimate showcase of their creative journeys as multi-talented theatre artists.  Sau and Li will share about their venture into directing in the Festival in a post-show dialogue on 19 June.


Please find the following annexes enclosed for information:

Annex 1 – Synopses of Machine and A Little White Sailing Boat

Annex 2 – Profiles of Directors

Annex 3 – Profile of Creative Team and Performers