Centre 42 selects two playwrights for Boiler Room play development programme

(From left) Singapore theatre practitioners Nabilah Said, 30, and Tan Liting, 28. PHOTO: CENTRE 42
(From left) Singapore theatre practitioners Nabilah Said, 30, and Tan Liting, 28. PHOTO: CENTRE 42PHOTO: CENTRE 42

Up-and-coming Singapore theatre practitioners Nabilah Said, 30, and Tan Liting, 28, have been selected for the sophomore round of Centre 42's Boiler Room scheme, a programme to develop work for the stage.

The centre, which emphasises content creation as one of its missions, selected their work from a pool of 37 applications received during an open call in April and May.

They will now go throug a year-long period of incubation, starting with three months of research, then a three-month contruction phase, followed by four weeks of writing.

Tan, a freelance theatre practitioner, has "an interest in devising performance from personal stories". She was part of The Finger Players' Watch This Space programme for budding directors, The Substation's Directors' Lab, and has worked with both major companies such as Cake Theatrical Productions, as well as smaller outfits the likes of Potluck Productions and Ageless Theatre.

Her proposed play, B*tch, will explore issues of gender identity from the perspective of women who identify as masculine.

Nabilah is a journalist with The Straits Times. She was part of Teater Ekamatra's youth wing, Mereka, as well as their platform for young playwrights, Mentah. Three of her short plays were staged under Ekamatra: Lost (2012), Next Station (2014) and Tart (2015). She has also performed in productions by Ekamatra and TheatreWorks.

She will be working on State Land, a play that looks at Singapore as an island, city-state and homeland.

The two artists were selected by a panel comprising Centre 42's resident director Casey Lim, its resident dramaturg Dr Robin Loon, seasoned playwright and Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Tan Tarn How, and Nine Years Theatre's artistic director Nelson Chia, an award-winning director. Mr Lim and Dr Loon will be on hand for regular consultations, dialogues and recommendations.

Dr Loon says that the selection panel was " impressed" with Tan's "intention to investigate gender but from a writers' point of view", as well as her "comprehensive research plan". The panel felt that Nabilah "had very clear objectives" in looking at spaces both real and imagined in Singapore, and that "her existing body of work (primarily in Malay) showed a lot of promise". The committee was in "unanimous agreement" that they were the best candidates from this cycle of applications.

Centre 42, located in the former Action Theatre premises along Waterloo Street, has just celebrated its first anniversary. It has become a popular space in the industry to test-drive new work and host theatre-related panels and discussions.