Teens and 20somethings keen to watch Wild Rice's Singapore Theatre Festival this July could catch a smorgasbord of new, local drama for free.
Wild Rice is offering 500 free tickets to viewers aged 16 to 25 on the festival's website, www.singaporetheatrefestival.com, which goes live today.
Interested parties can sign up online, receive a confirmation code and get their free tickets at the door after an identity check.
Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis for all eight plays programmed for the festival from July 5 to 22 at the Lasalle College of the Arts campus.
With ticket prices ranging from $45 to $75, that is a significant chunk of the festival's $1 million production cost, which Wild Rice raises itself through balls and appeals.
The troupe's founding artistic director Ivan Heng says the free tickets invest in the future viability of theatre. Youngsters with limited pocket money now could get hooked on the experience and later become paying members of the audience.
BOOK IT / SINGAPORE THEATRE FESTIVAL
WHERE: Lasalle College of the Arts, 1 McNally Street
WHEN: July 5 to 22, various timings
TICKETS: Plays are ticketed individually, prices start at $45. Available from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
INFO: Ratings to be advised. Viewers aged between 16 and 25 can sign up for free tickets at www.singaporetheatrefestival.com. Only 500 tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis
"We want to keep theatre young and vibrant, we want to expand it to the next generation," he says.
Wild Rice's resident playwright Alfian Sa'at co-directs the festival with Heng for the first time. Alfian also serves as the festival's dramaturg, helping to nurture rising theatre-makers.
On the programme this year is a new play from Thomas Lim, whose maiden effort, Grandmother Tongue, was staged at the last Singapore Theatre Festival in 2016 and nominated the year after for Best Original Script at the Life Theatre Awards.
This year's Supervision is about privacy and dignity. An Indonesian domestic worker is strictly observed by her employer, with cameras trained on her at home.
Lim, 27, says this play is based on his own family, where his mother checks on the helper caring for his grandmother through cameras that send a feed to her phone.
"My mother knows I'm working on this play," he adds, but is not sure whether she will watch it.
Other highlights this year include newsroom drama Press Gang written by former journalist Tan Tarn How and Alfian's An Actress Prepares, written for Siti Khalijah Zainal and staged during the 2016 Singapore Writers Festival.
Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai plays an actress dealing with racism in Building A Character, written by new voice Ruth Tang.
Pam Oei strikes a blow for equality in Faghag, while Cheow Boon Seng's script One Metre Square follows hawkers from the defunct Sungei Road flea market.
A double-bill interrogates Singaporean masculinity: Neo Hai Bin's When The Cold Wind Blows looks at national service while Chong Woon Yong's G.F.E. looks at a man's search for intimacy through the paid "girlfriend experience" in Geylang.
Giving local talent a stage is the impetus behind the festival, now in its sixth edition.
Heng says: "Playwrights can go through any number of processes for developing a play and it still doesn't get a production.
"What a play needs is more care and attention in a very positive, optimistic environment that says: 'Yes you can.'"
Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity