Conference of the Birds

Hey! Tomorrow’s gonna be a big day. ST Life! Theatre Awards – Charged is up for a number of nominations and Metamorphoses too. But I’m looking forward to getting sweaty with Conference of the Birds.

This is a staging, “realised by director Jermiah Choy” who has worked closely with William Teo, which this staging is a tribute to an “earlier landmark production” by William Teo. “This performance not only recalls the work of a much loved director (departed in 2001); it is also significant in that many actors and designers working in theatre today made a start in their careers in that production.”

I’m quite excited.

Some background information I found about William Teo, from an event held at The Substation

William Teo (1957-2001) was one of the pioneers of Singapore’s English-language theatre in the 1980s and 1990s. That was a time when English-language theatre in Singapore took off, with a new generation of theatre artists, playwrights and directors who grew up in the post-Independence era of the late 1960s and 1970s exploring and expanding theatre styles, techniques and methods.

Growing in confidence as Singaporeans, they sought to put Singaporean culture, themes, languages, stories, and visual styles on the local stage. Among the influential figures of Singapore theatre in this period was William Teo, who founded Asia-in-Theatre Research Circus (later Centre), or ATRC, in 1990. William’s work as director was known for its qualities of a highly-visual staging, the influence of traditional Asian performance forms in the storytelling, acting, and a commitment to in-depth research and actors’ preparation and training.

Kuo Pao Kun had written that ‘although Asia-in-Theatre has not been very productive (an average of only one production a year), nor has it had a huge audience, the quality of the group’s presence in the Singapore theatre scene outweighs that of companies doing many more shows and commanding bigger audiences.’

William passed away at the age of 43 in 2001 but he touched the lives – and indeed, the theatre practices – of many Singapore theatre artists and is fondly remembered by artists as well as by his audiences. One of the hallmarks of his productions was the care for the audience’s experience of theatre, from the moment they enter the theatre building to the close of the performance. It was a view of total theatre, through which the magic of the theatrical experience emerged.

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