Centre 42 announces first batch of playwrights in Boiler Room programme

The three scripts written by playwrights (from left) Suzanne Choo, 40, Bryan Tan, 40, and Daniel Chan, 18, will go into development in the inaugural round of Centre 42's Boiler Room initiative. -- ST PHOTO: STEFFI KOH
The three scripts written by playwrights (from left) Suzanne Choo, 40, Bryan Tan, 40, and Daniel Chan, 18, will go into development in the inaugural round of Centre 42's Boiler Room initiative. -- ST PHOTO: STEFFI KOH

Predestination and Schrodinger's Cat, the birth of Singapore literature, and a close look at a fictional Singaporean theatre company between 1990 and 2002 - these are the three scripts that will go into development in the inaugural round of Centre 42's Boiler Room initiative.

The three playwrights behind these ideas will go through a rigorous process of research and writing over the next few months as they continue to flesh out their work.

They are: 18-year-old Daniel Chan, one of the youngest applicants, who is currently waiting to enter National Service; Suzanne Choo, 40, who teaches literature at the National Institute of Education; and Bryan Tan, 40, both a theatre practitioner and a legal counsel at a multinational company.

This was announced on Monday at the official opening of the centre, an arts space dedicated to text and writing for the Singapore stage. The guest of honour was Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, who toured the premises at 42 Waterloo Street.

Mr Wong said in his speech: "If we do not have good writing, if we do not have good content, then we do not have a strong foundation to develop. And good writing underpins a lot of artistic pursuits. This can be in theatre, film or TV.

"And even if you have a good story, you need good script writers to translate that literary work into a script. So there is a lot we can do to develop these capabilities. That was the basis for setting up a centre like this." Centre 42 is an initiative of the National Arts Council but run by an independent team of theatre practitioners.

These three works were chosen from a pool of 28 applicants ranging from age 18 to 74. They were selected by the Centre 42 team, as well as theatre academic Dr K.K. Seet and award-winning director Nelson Chia, founder of local company Nine Years Theatre. Casey Lim, the centre's executive director, says they were encouraged by the high quality of the submissions.

Dr Robin Loon, the centre's chief consultant for documentation, discourse and ramaturgy, says of the three playwrights: "I think one of the biggest things that struck us was that all three of them were extremely open. They said, I don't care how the story as told, but the story needs to be told. I will do whatever I need to do to get the story told, I'm willing to explore."

The centre also announced two new schemes. The Basement Workshop aims to support independent artists by providing them with a heavily subsidised space to rehearse and develop work. The first project is Singapore actor and designer Lim Yu-Beng's 2 Houses, which was commissioned by the 2014 Georgetown Festival and will be staged in Penang in August.

The other new initiative is the Guest Room, which targets independent playwrights and directors who are evaluating or showcasing drafts of new or reimagined work at a more advanced stage of rehearsal. They will get four days of free usage of the centre's facilities and a small production stipend. One day must be used for a public reading for the work.

corriet@sph.com.sg

Follow Corrie Tan on Twitter @corrietan

For more information about Centre 42 and its programmes, go to www.centre42.sg

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