The Finger Players open their 2019 season with an all new inclusive theatre performance this March. Titled Not in My Lifetime?, the production will be staged at Gateway Theatre’s Black Box and explores the special education system in Singapore as experienced by teachers working within the sector.
Conceived by director Tan Beng Tian in collaboration with a diverse team of creatives, the production aims to cater equally to both non-disabled people and persons with disabilities. Says Beng Tian: “As the director, I take it as a challenge and an exploration on how to integrate effective captioning and audio transcribing artistically into the show. I have been receiving interesting ideas and different perspectives from special education teachers, a beatboxer, a singer-songwriter, sign language users, puppeteers and actors who are my collaborators in this production.”
“Singapore is home to two communities living under the same roof,” she adds. “We have the disabled and non-disabled communities among us. But despite the rhetoric of an inclusive society, our integration is a long way off. The majority of our theatre productions are still inaccessible to people with disabilities. Likewise, the majority of our population, including myself, has yet to understand and accept the needs of people with disabilities, and to learn how to accommodate them in daily life. But there are glimmers of hope and change. I am learning. My family, friends and associates have also joined in to learn. The door has opened. And the light, and enlightenment, await beyond.”
Presented through an interactive and engaging approach, in The Finger Players’ inimitable and heartfelt emotive style, Not In My Lifetime? will star performers Inch Chua, Evelyn Chye, Myra Loke, Timothy Nga, Nur Shafiza (Shai) and Nix Sang, as they present candid anecdotes written by Alvan Yap about the ‘special’ education system in Singapore, one which is supposed to be ‘special’.The plot of Not In My Lifetime? follows two special education teacher as they navigate the ups and downs of school life and examine the challenges they face in their interactions with authorities, parents and the students themselves.
Highlights include an intimate and homely experience allowing audience members to move around the theatre space together with the performers as the story unfolds. Designed by Lim Chin Huat, best known for his visually stunning creative works, Not In My Lifetime? is set to give Gateway Theatre a homely feel, as audience members are given the freedom to sit around on chairs, stools, low stools, beanbags, cushions, rugs and straw mattresses. The chairs, sourced from many different places, each have a unique backstory and reflect the diversity of the audiences and their experiences.
Seeking to be inclusive, not only will there be close captioning and audio description that will be incorporated non-conventionally, theatregoers will also be able to choose from an equal number of ‘relaxed’ and ‘regular’ performances. People with disabilities will also receive special concession ticket prices, while The Finger Players will also conduct touch tours before the performance, allowing blind and partially sighted theatregoers to have tactile access to the set and props and also via detailed verbal descriptions. Currently, the company has also partnered up with the Singapore Drama Educators Association (SDEA) to offer complementary activities such as panel discussion and workshops to spark conversations about what inclusion truly means.
Join The Finger Players as they continue to push new boundaries to expand the scope of theatre and shine a light on this oft overlooked field of special education, as they explore the motivations or demotivations faced by special education teachers stay on or move on in their careers.
Not In My Lifetime plays at the Gateway Theatre Black Box from 5th to 17th March 2019. Tickets available from Peatix