The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards: Small works, big impact

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress disorder after being raped. With her is shadow interpreter Amirah Osman.PHOTOS: ALBERT LIM K S, CHRISTOPHER WONG, CRISPIAN CHAN, DRAMA BOX, ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY, JACK YAM, MICHAEL CHIANG PLAYTHINGS LTD, TEATER EKAMATRA, THE POND PHOTOGRAPHY, TUCKYS PHOTOGRAPHY, W!LD RICE
Norisham Osman (right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah.
Norisham Osman (right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah.

All three plays up for Production of the Year at The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards 2019 were created for studio audiences of around 200

Small works made the biggest impact in the theatre scene last year: all three plays nominated for Production of the Year in the annual The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards were created for studio audiences of around 200.

The plays in the running for the top prize are Alkesah, a pantomime in Malay which drew on regional folklore; Leda And The Rage, a play about the aftermath of sexual assault; and Supervision, a drama about surveillance and the relationship between a senior citizen and the domestic help.

All three works are also nominated in the categories of Best Director and Best Original Script.

Alkesah's director Aidli Mosbit, 46, scores her first nomination for Best Director about 27 years after she wrote and directed her first play as a teenager.

She notes that a "small" space does not stop a production from having an epic feel.

With Alkesah, she says: "It feels like the show was big, but scale-wise, we were in the Esplanade Theatre Studio and there was this intimacy. It was quite nice."

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 55 nominations in 13 categories.

Leading the pack with nine nominations - the most this year - is Leda And The Rage, written, directed and performed by Edith Podesta for the annual The Studios season of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

The script was written for only two performers, Podesta sharing the Esplanade Theatre Studio stage with actor Jeremiah Choy.

Both are nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively. The work also stood out for integrating sign language interpretation into the performance. Two interpreters translated the show live.

Podesta won Production of the Year and Best Original Script in 2017 for another intimate work, contemporary mythological drama B*tch: The Origin Of The Female Species, but says: "I'm never prepared, I'm always so surprised with the nominations. It's just wonderful because so many of my collaborators are nominated for Leda And The Rage as well."

The third Production of the Year contender, Supervision, has six nominations in total, including in the categories of Best Actor and Best Actress.

It was staged last year at the Lasalle College of the Arts' Flexible Performance Space for the Singapore Theatre Festival presented by local theatre troupe Wild Rice.

Director Glen Goei, 56, says of the nominations: "I'm totally gobsmacked actually."

He last won Best Director at the 2016 edition of the Life Theatre Awards, sharing the palm with Wild Rice founder Ivan Heng for their work on the historical drama Hotel.

Goei says of Supervision: "When you work on a new script, the director's job is to provide the best framework and create the best conditions in order for the writer's words to come alive and engage an audience.

"This was a 'small' production with 'big' and current themes, which connected with audiences in more ways than I had expected. I guess that's the magic of theatre."

The winners of the Life Theatre Awards will be announced in end April. There will be no ceremony this year.


PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
Patrick Teoh and Umi Kalthum Ismail in Supervision.

• Alkesah (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Supervision (Wild Rice)


BEST ACTOR

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
Mohd Fared Jainal in Potong (right).

• Joshua Lim for When The Cold Wind Blows (Wild Rice)

• Lim Kay Siu for The Father (Pangdemonium)

• Mohd Fared Jainal for Potong (Teater Ekamatra)

• Patrick Teoh for Supervision (Wild Rice)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
Jeremiah Choy (left) in Leda And The Rage.

• Adib Kosnan for 0600 (GroundZ-0 and Singapore International Festival of Arts)

• Jeremiah Choy for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Joel Low for When The Cold Wind Blows (Wild Rice)


BEST ENSEMBLE

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
A $ingapore Carol.

• A $ingapore Carol (Wild Rice)

• Alkesah (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore 'd' Monologues (Kaite O'Reilly and Access Path Productions)

• Pissed Julie (Nine Years Theatre and Macau Arts Festival)

• Tiger Of Malaya (Teater Ekamatra)


BEST ACTRESS

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
Goh Guat Kian (right) in Underclass.

• Dalifah Shahril for Lanang (Hatch Theatrics)

• Edith Podesta for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Goh Guat Kian for Underclass (Drama Box and The Necessary Stage)

• Leigh McDonald for Souvenir (Sing'theatre)

• Umi Kalthum Ismail for Supervision (Wild Rice)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
Tan Beng Tian (third from left) in One Metre Square: Voices From Sungei Road.

• Li Xie for Citizen Dog (The Finger Players)

• Munah Bagharib for Potong (Teater Ekamatra)

• Tan Beng Tian for One Metre Square: Voices From Sungei Road (Wild Rice)


BEST LIGHTING

Norisham Osman (far right) is the daydreamer Mat Jenin and Siti Maznah plays the witch Nenek Kebayan in the musical, Alkesah. In Leda And The Rage, Edith Podesta (above left) plays a trauma expert and lecturer who grapples with post-traumatic stress
E-hui Woo for Watching.

• Adrian Tan for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Adrian Tan for Tiger Of Malaya (Teater Ekamatra)

• E-hui Woo for Watching (Toy Factory Productions)

• Gabriel Chan for Julius Caesar (Singapore Repertory Theatre)

• Lim Woan Wen for Citizen Dog (The Finger Players)


BEST DIRECTOR


Nelson Chia for Pissed Julie.

• Aidli Mosbit for Alkesah (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Edith Podesta for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Glen Goei for Supervision (Wild Rice)

• Nelson Chia for Pissed Julie (Nine Years Theatre and Macau Arts Festival)

• Tracie Pang for The Father (Pangdemonium)


BEST ORIGINAL SCRIPT


Alfian Sa'at for Tiger Of Malaya.

•Alfian Sa'at for Tiger Of Malaya (Teater Ekamatra)

•Edith Podesta for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

•Michelle Tan for I Am Trying To Say Something True (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

•Thomas Lim for Supervision (Wild Rice)

•Zulfadli Rashid for Alkesah (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)


BEST SET


Oliver Chong for Citizen Dog.

• Oliver Chong for Citizen Dog (The Finger Players)

• Richard Kent for Julius Caesar (Singapore Repertory Theatre)

• Wong Chee Wai for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)


BEST COSTUME


Tube Gallery by Phisit & Saksit for Private Parts.

• Ian Wang for Sometime Moon (Toy Factory Productions)

• Moe Kasim, Moephasis Concepts for Alkesah (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Tube Gallery by Phisit & Saksit for A $ingapore Carol (Wild Rice)

• Tube Gallery by Phisit & Saksit for Private Parts (Michael Chiang Playthings)


BEST SOUND


Chris Wenn for In The Silence Of Your Heart.

• anGie seah for Lanang (Hatch Theatrics)

• Chris Wenn for In The Silence Of Your Heart (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Teo Wee Boon for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Vick Low for Watching (Toy Factory Productions)


BEST MULTIMEDIA


Han Xuemei, Darren Ng and Genevieve Peck for Missing: The City Of Lost Things.

• Andrew Ng and Koo Chia Meng for Supervision (Wild Rice)

• Brian Gothong Tan for Leda And The Rage (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay)

• Genevieve Peck for A $ingapore Carol (Wild Rice)

• Han Xuemei, Darren Ng and Genevieve Peck for Missing: The City Of Lost Things (Drama Box)

• Koo Chia Meng - Fiction Shore for Julius Caesar (Singapore Repertory Theatre)


Correction note: The nomination for Cerita Cinta under Best Set has been withdrawn.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2019, with the headline 'Small works, big impact'. Print Edition | Subscribe