Chinese crosstalk production marking Singapore Bicentennial to get audiences laughing and thinking

Chinese crosstalk production It Could Have Been___! features (from left) Ma Tian Ling, Johnny Ng, Yong Ser Pin, Audrey Luo, Lee Seng Hui, and Chin Chee Kong. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - An upcoming Chinese crosstalk production on Singapore's history, titled It Could Have Been____!, will give audiences plenty of chuckles, as well as food for thought, says its scriptwriter Han Lao Da.

Before a media preview of the show on Wednesday (May 22), the 71-year-old Cultural Medallion recipient told The Straits Times that he hopes humour will help leave a strong impression of the issues it covers - such as the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, the Japanese Occupation, as well as the integration of Singapore's new and old immigrants - among audience members.

The production is co-organised by Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group and the People's Association, and presented by China Life Insurance Singapore, in support of the Singapore Bicentennial.

Mr Han, a Singapore crosstalk pioneer and renowned Chinese-language theatre playwright, wrote and co-directed that version, which was 120 minutes long.

The 2019 version has been updated, modified for an open stage and condensed to 75 minutes. It comprises several acts that span 700 years of Singapore's history. It is directed by experienced theatre practitioner Jalyn Han and anchored by local crosstalk veterans Johnny Ng, Yong Ser Pin and other performers.

Mr Han says: "I hope this production will help educate Singaporeans about our past. Crosstalk is an ideal platform to help audiences appreciate serious topics in a light-hearted manner."

The free production will be launched at the Singapore Book Fair, which will take place at Capitol Singapore from May 31 to June 9 - with the first two shows performed at Capitol Singapore on June 8 and 9.

Subsequent performances will be staged over the next few weekends at Ang Mo Kio Central Stage, Our Tampines Hub and Kampung Admiralty.

Mr Han hopes each performance will attract 200 to 300 audience members.

"We hope passers-by will stop, watch and not want to leave. The production's language is simple enough for audience members to follow, and there are many comedic elements."

  • Catch It Could Have Been___!:

  • - June 8, 8pm: Capitol Singapore, Outdoor Plaza

    - June 9, 4pm: Capitol Singapore, Outdoor Plaza

    - June 15, 7.30pm: Ang Mo Kio Central Stage

    - June 16, 7.30pm: Ang Mo Kio Central Stage

    - June 22, 4.30pm: Our Tampines Hub

    - June 23, 6pm: Our Tampines Hub

    - June 29, 7.30pm: Kampung Admiralty

    - June 30, 7pm: Kampung Admiralty

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