Secret Theatre: An Interview with Founder and Artistic Director Richard Crawford
This May, for the first time ever, immersive theatre company Secret Theatre finally makes its way down to Singapore for a unique, specially curated experience right in the heart of the Lion City! With productions that include adaptations of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands in New York in a disused factory and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs in a warehouse in London, expect only to be surprised when you step into their latest project, where even its location is kept a secret until the day itself!
We spoke to Secret Theatre founder and artistic director Richard Crawford and asked him a little more about the history of Secret Theatre, what audiences can expect from this edition, and the magic and joy of creating such experiences. Read the interview in full below:
Bakchormeeboy: Why have you decided to finally bring Secret Theatre to Singapore this May? Has this been something your team has been planning for a long time, and were there any unique challenges posed to bringing it here?
Richard: I was amazed to meet people that had flown from Singapore to Hong Kong to come and experience the productions. They were exactly the fun and engaging people we hoped would come to our shows so I decided to head over to Singapore and touch base with venues and artists in the city. I was blown away by the city, the people and the atmosphere and thought we could also really add something special to an already cool city. From venues, to artists it just felt right and we put the show together quite quickly.
Bakchormeeboy: We know that you can’t reveal anything about what’s been planned for this show, but how can audiences best prepare themselves in order to get the most out of their Secret Theatre experience? Will it be a ‘uniquely Singaporean’ experience?
Richard: Each show is so unique to the city we are performing in as unlike traditional international theatre companies, we don’t use theatres. We use buildings and spaces that exist in the city and also hire an element of local talent, thus the shows will feel unique to Singapore.
Bakchormeeboy: How do you manage to keep each Secret Theatre show secret even after audiences have experienced the first couple of shows?
Richard: That can be difficult but what we’ve found is that the secret element becomes obsolete after the experience, the productions are shows, but people tend to talk more about the experience rather than the secret element and they also realised it is an important part of the night out. We also only run for 6 weeks so it is easier to keep the secret. If it’s after 6 months, I’m sure the whole city would know!
Bakchormeeboy: Do you ever attend other immersive theatre experiences to size up the competition? How do you ensure that Secret Theatre continues to stand out from the crowd and retain its unique and innovative qualities?
Richard: I try and see as many theatre and immersive productions as I can. I’m based in London and New York, so there is an abundance of shows. I feel it’s important to my development as an artist to keep making the shows more effective and engaging, and by absorbing what has been done well around me, it helps the shows improve. I ensure we keep to our ethos by keeping the shows intimate. For other immersive companies, I feel they try and squeeze as many audience members into the experience as they possibly can, and the evening can feel like a conveyor belt of scenes rather than a personal, intimate participation where you are right in the action with everyone else from start to finish.
Bakchormeeboy: What’s the most rewarding thing about working on and heading Secret Theatre?
Richard: Working in other cities with different cultures. I always feel the pressure – a good pressure, when we open in a new city, which is very exciting. And Singapore, well it doesn’t get much more fascinating and exciting does it? It really feels like a city that is growing and morphing into a great metropolis and I’m very grateful to be a part of that!
Secret Theatre plays at a secret location from 2nd May – 10th June. All attendees must be over the age of 21. Tickets available from iGo Ticketing.