Rensen Chan.

Rensen Chan, 49, artistic director of Hong Kong's The Nonsensemakers, is returning to Singapore with the play, Travel With Mum, about a 74-year-old man who takes his 99-year-old mother on a journey across China on a tricycle.

Chan plays the son and his wife, Jo Ngai, 47, producer at The Nonsensemakers, plays the mother. The production runs from Thursday to June 26 at the Esplanade Theatre Studio. Tickets are sold out.

What are you reading now?

I'm reading Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) by Andrea Hirata, a novel I chanced upon in Indonesia. This is the author's first novel and it is about how a principal, teacher and their 10 students fight for survival when the government and a mining company try to evict them because the school sits on a valuable tin mine.

Everyone has a dream and his dream is to learn. This story has touched me deeply and I have decided to stage it as a musical in Hong Kong in February next year. If there is an opportunity, I would like to present this work in Singapore.

What books would you save from a burning house?

I will save Those Things That Happened In Ming Dynasty by Dang Nian Ming Yue, which comprises seven volumes and covers the history of the dynasty.

The author was tired of the boring way in which history books were written and felt that they could be written in a humorous way.

He offers unique insights into historic events and figures and a very clear illustration of the abstruse relations, laws and bureaucracy, as well as relationships between characters, such that readers can easily understand the story. It is a book that one would not be able to put down.

• Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) by Andrea Hirata (2013, Sarah Crichton Books, $13.50) is available at

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Bookends'. Print Edition | Subscribe