Following their production of Goh Poh Seng’s The Moon Is Less Bright earlier this year, youth theatre company The Second Breakfast Company (2BCo) continues their mission of championing local work and will be staging 20-year old playwright Isaiah Christopher Lee’s new play this November – The Old Woman and the Ox.
Selected from a pool of over 40 scripts 2BCo received through an open call in 2017, Isaiah and the company then worked closely on tweaking and improving on a final version of the script, to be presented when it is staged at the Gateway Theatre Black Box in about a month. Isaiah, who is currently serving his National Service, is no stranger to the writing scene, having a Peranakan adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth written and staged in 2014. Isaiah is also a poet, and has had his poem Last Meal published by The Kindling Journal, while preparing for an upcoming poetry publication as well.
Isaiah’s work is primarily interested in issues of sex, gender and sexuality, as well as the fragility of romantic and familial relationships. Inspired by his own mother and grandmother, The Old Women and the Ox is set against a crumbling house, as Aileen (Shannen Tan) encounters the ghosts of her memories while searching for something abstract within herself, after a series of traumatic events in her past leaves her disenchanted and apathetic. Confronted after the traumatic events of her past, Aileen may just have to face her biggest fear of all – the truth.
Says 2BCo Artistic Directors Adeeb Fazah and Mark Cheong: “With the play focusing on the memory of trauma and one’s projection of expectations onto others and themselves, we want to create an immersive and sensorial experience for the audience, so we hope that by stepping up our approach in how we use the stage, we can do justice to the story.”
The Old Woman and the Ox’s cast comprises Shannen Tan, Miriam Cheong, Lim Jun De, Claire Teo, Dwayne Ng, Cheryl Lee and Aaron Cheang, and features shadow puppetry created under tutelage of theatre actor and puppeteer, Bright Ong. Isaiah himself expresses excitement at the premiere of his work, saying: “At the heart of it, this play is about our subconscious yearning for acceptance and a home. Even if my story can move just one heart in the audience to embrace the unlovable, to listen to the marginalised, it would be more than enough.”
With a play that blurs the lines of surrealism and reality, watch as this new play grapples with issues of what it means to mother and be mothered in a new light, as it exemplifies our eternal search for answers, and 2BCo continues to empower young voices with the opportunity and platform to raise these ever important conversations and perspectives.
Photos courtesy of The Second Breakfast Company
The Old Woman and the Ox plays at the Gateway Theatre Black Box from 15th to 17th November 2018. Tickets available from SISTIC