Snapshots of loneliness

Themes of isolation and rejection take centre stage in this double-bill production by Buds Theatre Company

Rebecca Lee plays Sarah in Hold On.
Rebecca Lee plays Sarah in Hold On.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Two playwrights reach for the dark points in their personal lives to shine the spotlight on loneliness in Buds Theatre Company's upcoming double bill.

For her play, The Heart Is Just A Muscle, Nor Narisha Ibrahim, 18, taps on heartbreak to explore the jagged emotions left in the wake of a first love gone wrong. Wisely Chow, 18, for his play, Hold On, looks back at a point in his life when he withdrew from his surroundings and retreated into silence.

These two honest, revealing plays are part of Buds Theatre's In-House series and will be staged on June 18 and 19 at The Playtent, an arts space in a shophouse in Joo Chiat Road.

They were selected from 15 plays written by Buds Youth Theatre members for an annual writing module last year.

The company's artistic director, Claire Devine, 48, who is directing both plays, says loneliness was the strongest and most compelling theme that emerged from the submissions.

"Of course, one could argue that young people, naturally, while seeking their own community, often find themselves isolated or rejected, but this was much more than that," says Devine.


  • WHERE: The Playtent Studio One, 180 Joo Chiat Road, 02-01

    WHEN: June 18 and 19, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $15 (for tickets, e-mail or get them at the door)

"This involved parental loneliness where young people could see quite clearly the pain parents in dysfunctional relationships went through and aged loneliness where their grandparents were often forgotten or ignored."

Narisha's play was written while she was still raw from a failed relationship. Her boyfriend of five months left her in November for "something better", she says.

"It wasn't long, but he had affected me a lot in that period.

"It was a very bad and difficult break-up that messed me up to the point where I couldn't find the motivation to carry on with what I loved doing, which was acting and drama. I wanted to let everyone know how I felt without losing face."

Struggling with pain, anger and grief, Narisha was looking to capture with her play the inner turmoil that heartbreak can wreak.

The Heart Is Just A Muscle was written as a discussion between a girl and her heart. "I chose a break-up because I saw it as a situation that a lot of people can relate to," says Narisha, who is studying at Republic Polytechnic.

"I wanted to show how damaging it can be, to the point where they would even start blaming and hurting themselves."

While she deals with these dark, heavy emotions, she also wants the audience to walk away with hope. With time, even the most crushing of pains will heal.

Chow's play deals with separation anxiety brought about by the trend of families separating and living countries apart, as two distant siblings speak to each other over the telephone.

The play, says the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student, represents a snapshot of a troubled point in his life. "There was a point in time when I disconnected with my surroundings. I had gone silent.

"In Hold On, I wanted to explore the silences in conversation and the fragility in a relationship.

"It was important for me to show that we drift apart because life happens and not because of some melodramatic plot point."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Snapshots of loneliness'. Print Edition | Subscribe