The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards 2018

Arts fest hits dominate The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards 2018

Three commissions at last year's Singapore International Festival of Arts - Dragonflies, Art Studio and Trojan Women - compete for this year's Production of the Year accolade

After 20 years working in theatre, actress Dalifah Shahril has received her first nomination in The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards.

She is up for Best Actress, for playing the lead role in Hayat Hayatie (The Story Of Hayatie), Teater Kami's play about a comfort woman who found new life and hope after the Japanese Occupation.

"I was shocked, half-believing, half not," the 38-year-old says on hearing the news. "It's a very nice feeling to get this recognition after all these years."

The Straits Times Life section has organised the Life Theatre Awards since 2001 to celebrate the best of Singapore theatre in the previous year. This year, there are 52 nominations in 14 categories, including Production of the Year and Best Production for the Young.

Theatre troupe Pangdemonium leads the pack this year with 11 nominations, including eight for Dragonflies, a drama about immigration and the refugee crisis, staged last year under the banner of the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017.

It is up for Production of the Year and Best Director (Tracie Pang), as are two other works staged during last year's festival - Art Studio by Nine Years Theatre, a theatrical re-working of the epic novel of the same name by Yeng Pway Ngon, directed by Nelson Chia; and Trojan Women, a musical re-creation of the Greek tragedy directed by then-festival director Ong Keng Sen.

Dragonflies is also up for Best Original Script (Stephanie Street) and is Pangdemonium's second foray into original work.

The theatre company made its name through reprising overseas favourites such as the Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home last year. Eleven-year-old Chloe Choo is up for Best Supporting Actress for playing the young protagonist in it.

Pangdemonium's first original play, family drama Tango, also won writer Joel Tan a nomination for Best Original Script this year. The third nominee in this category is Adib Kosnan for his drama about a couple's monetary woes, 28.8, staged by Teater Kami.

Pangdemonium's joint artistic directors, Tracie and Adrian Pang, say the nominations are a welcome surprise.

Tracie, 50, who won the award for Best Director last year for family drama Falling, says: "This was our first year of working on new writing. We took a big leap and it's been rewarded. It's just wonderful for the company and everybody who worked on the show to feel that the work is being viewed positively."

Adrian, 52, who is up for Best Actor for Dragonflies, says: "We were gobsmacked. We're just very grateful to have the platform and the opportunity to tell these stories we feel very strongly about."

Dragonflies will be re-staged this May and June at the Victoria Theatre.

The Best Production for the Young award returns for a third time to recognise Singapore companies that create outstanding performances for audiences aged 12 and younger.

It is organised in partnership with the National Arts Council and is judged by experts in theatre for younger audiences.

A total of 28 productions were up for consideration this year.

The shortlist of five includes Chicken Little by Singapore Repertory Theatre's The Little Company, Mr Magnolia by Young People's Performing Arts Ensemble and The Wee Question Mark And The Nameless: A Family Musical by The Theatre Practice.

There are also two works commissioned by Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Samsui Women: One Brick At A Time by The Finger Players and The Magic Paintbrush by Paper Monkey Theatre.

Community artist and arts educator Peggy Ferroa, who is on the jury for the award, says of the nominees: "There was strong storytelling, use of language was precise, the acting was good even though some of them were puppets, and all had high production values.

"What was strong was that these productions created a sense of wonderment, were thought-provoking and had a lot of heart. I also saw a lot of potential for young audiences and their caregivers to continue conversations after the show and that's what good theatre should do."

The results of the Life Theatre Awards will be announced on March 27. There will not be any ceremony, unlike previous years.

The nominees

PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR

• Art Studio by Nine Years Theatre and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Trojan Women by Ong Keng Sen, National Theater of Korea and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

BEST PRODUCTION FOR THE YOUNG

• Chicken Little by Singapore Repertory Theatre's The Little Company

• Mr Magnolia by Young People's Performing Arts Ensemble

• Samsui Women: One Brick At A Time by The Finger Players and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

• The Magic Paintbrush by Paper Monkey Theatre and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

• The Wee Question Mark And The Nameless: A Family Musical by The Theatre Practice

BEST DIRECTOR

• Nelson Chia for Art Studio by Nine Years Theatre and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Tracie Pang for Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Ong Keng Sen for Trojan Women by Ong Keng Sen, National Theater of Korea and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

BEST ORIGINAL SCRIPT

• Adib Kosnan for 28.8 by Teater Kami

• Stephanie Street for Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Joel Tan for Tango by Pangdemonium

BEST ACTOR

• Adrian Pang for Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Thomas Pang for Hand To God by Singapore Repertory Theatre

• Ramesh Meyyappan for Off/Kilter by TheatreWorks and Tron Theatre

BEST ACTRESS

• Dalifah Shahril for Hayat Hayatie by Teater Kami

• Na-Young Jeon for The Great Wall: One Woman's Journey by Glowtape Productions

• Janice Koh for With/Out by Loo Zihan and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

• Benjamin Chow for Forbidden City: Portrait Of An Empress by Singapore Repertory Theatre and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

• Oliver Chong for Itsy: The Musical by The Finger Players

• Sean Ghazi for La Cage by Wild Rice

• Andy Tear for The Pillowman by Pangdemonium

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

• Oon Shu An for Boeing Boeing by Wild Rice

• Cheryl Tan for Forbidden City: Portrait Of An Empress by Singapore Repertory Theatre and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

• Jo Tan for Frago by Checkpoint Theatre

• Chloe Choo for Fun Home by Pangdemonium

BEST ENSEMBLE

• Art Studio by Nine Years Theatre and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Lao Jiu: The Musical by The Theatre Practice

• Normal by Checkpoint Theatre

• Trojan Women by Ong Keng Sen, National Theater of Korea and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

BEST LIGHTING

• James Tan for Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Artfactory for Running With Strippers by Cake Theatrical Productions

• Scott Zielinski for Trojan Women by Ong Keng Sen, National Theater of Korea and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

BEST SET

• Kwok Wai Yin for Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Francis O'Connor for Forbidden City: Portrait Of An Empress by Singapore Repertory Theatre and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

• Wong Chee Wai for Fundamentally Happy by Nine Years Theatre (co-produced with Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Wong Chee Wai for Itsy: The Musical by The Finger Players

• Leong Hon Kit for Prism by Toy Factory Productions

BEST SOUND

• Tini Aliman for Angkat by Teater Ekamatra

• Jing Ng for Dragonflies by Pangdemonium and Singapore International Festival of Arts 2017

• Darren Ng for The Spirits Play by The Finger Players

BEST COSTUME

• Yang Derong for Forbidden City: Portrait Of An Empress by Singapore Repertory Theatre and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

• Frederick Lee for La Cage by Wild Rice

• Chen Szu-Feng for Lao Jiu: The Musical by The Theatre Practice

• Tube Gallery for Mama White Snake by Wild Rice

• Tube Gallery for Tropicana The Musical by Spare Room Productions

BEST MULTIMEDIA

• Genevieve Peck and Edit & Play for Blank Run by The Theatre Practice

• Kazuki Takakura for Sanctuary by The Necessary Stage and Hanchu-Yuei

• Kelvin Chew and Yong Rong Zhao for With/Out by Loo Zihan and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Arts fest hits dominate'. Print Edition | Subscribe