An upcoming Chinese crosstalk show on Singapore's history, It Could Have Been____!, will provide plenty of chuckles, as well as food for thought, says its scriptwriter Han Lao Da.
Before a media preview of the show on Wednesday, the 71-year-old Cultural Medallion recipient told The Straits Times he hopes that humour will help leave a strong impression of the issues it covers, including the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, the Japanese Occupation, and the integration of Singapore's new and old immigrants.
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. It was first staged at the Esplanade Theatre in 2015.
Mr Han, a Singapore crosstalk pioneer and Chinese-language theatre playwright, wrote and co-directed that version, which was 120 minutes long.
This year's version has been condensed to 75 minutes and modified for an open stage. It comprises several acts that span 700 years of Singapore's history.
It is directed by theatre practitioner Jalyn Han and anchored by local crosstalk veterans Johnny Ng and 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 people 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 held at Capitol Singapore on June 8 and 9.
Mr Han hopes each performance will attract 200 to 300 people.
"We hope passers-by will stop, watch and not want to leave. The show's language is simple enough for people to follow and there are many comedic elements," he says.
It Could Have Been___! will be held on 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; and June 30, 7pm, Kampung Admiralty.