Artist Highlight: Wag the Dog Theatre

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Every year sees new theatre companies coming and going, particularly with amateur and youth theatre groups who appear once and disappear forever. But with Wag the Dog Theatre, something completely different is brewing here, with their introduction of co-op theatre to the Singapore scene.

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From left to right: Mark Seow, Sean Worrall, Krissy Jesudason, Deborah Hoon, Victoria Mintey, Susie Penrice Tyrie, Warren Baumgart Jr. 

Consisting of seven core members – Victoria Mintey, Krissy Jesudason, Warren Baumgart Jr., Deborah Hoon, Mark Seow, Susie Penrice Tyrie and Sean Worrall, the idea of a co-op theatre revolves around collapsing the traditional hierarchy system of theatre, doing away with an artistic director or specific roles, giving each and every member different responsibilities, and ultimately resulting in productions that are selected, funded, produced and performed by the company’s members.

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Wag the Dog was first conceived back in 2015, as friends and founding members Vicky, Krissy and Warren chatted about theatre over coffee. Having all had experience working in theatre both locally and overseas, the three friends decided to create their own theatre company to tell the stories that had yet to be told. Seeing the success and popularity of the co-op model in countries such as Canada, the US and London, they decided to introduce it to Singapore.

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Come 2016, with a series of open call auditions led by Krissy, Victoria and Warren, new members were brought in to join the company. Wag the Dog firmly marketed themselves as a very different kind of company: with no quotas or casting brackets, the team sought to find kindred spirits, sharing and developing ideas while remaining honest about risks and opportunities.  But acting couldn’t be the only thing in the candidates’ repertoire – auditionees then had to be willing to undertake admin, marketing, tech and other aspects essential in producing a show, not to mention take a leap of faith by putting up some money essential to the company’s launch.

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Ultimately, the final team was decided upon, resulting in the group that makes up Wag the Dog today. Together with Victoria, Krissy and Warren, Mark, Deborah, Sean and Susie came on board to share in a life-changing journey, each offering their unique experience and expertise. All seven members are no newbie to the theatre scene, having been involved in local and international productions, giving them a significant leg up over some of the other new theatre companies around, and are certainly set to be a force to watch out for.

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How then can you catch Singapore’s first co-op theatre in action? With their debut production of course. Wag the Dog chose British play The Memory of Water to make their first impression on the local theatre scene. The choice was unanimous amongst the team, having discovered an ensemble play that made full use of each and every member, and whose roles suited them of course. The Memory of Water is also armed with critical acclaim for its past productions, and is in possession of a lively, cracking story full of family drama and brimming with humour, despite being based around a death and a funeral! Expect plenty of laughs and a ton of emotion when it premieres this week at the Drama Centre Black Box.

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In 2017, it looks like there’s a new dog in the Singaporean theatre yard. With rehearsals finally coming to a close, Wag the Dog Theatre has come a long way from its humble coffee shop talk beginnings, to becoming a full fledged theatre company ready to rumble today. We wish the team all the best for the play’s run, and we can’t wait to head down ourselves and see where this co-operative journey has brought its sailors.

Stay tuned for our review of Wag the Dog Theatre’s The Memory of Water!

Photo Credit: Wag the Dog Theatre

The Memory of Water plays at the Drama Centre Black Box from 30th June to 9th July. Tickets available from SISTIC Find out more about Wag the Dog Theatre on their Website, and keep up with them via FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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