In July 2020, The Necessary Stage (TNS) launched Playwrights’ Cove, a five-month long playwriting training and mentorship programme led by Resident Playwright Haresh Sharma, with the aim of nurturing, processing and platforming contemporary playwriting for Singapore theatre. The programme is part of TNS Devising Platform, an initiative to consolidate and boost the company’s skills development and creative exploration programmes.
Over the course of five months, 10 emerging playwrights met weekly over Zoom to undergo training, discuss theatrical forms and works, and present topics close to their hearts to fellow participants, as they worked on new drafts of their plays. Local theatre practitioners were also invited to give guest lectures
throughout the programme. Now, they’re finally ready to present these works as dramatised readings, with Playwrights’ Cove 2020.
Taking place online from 17th to 20th December, all ten plays will be read and directed by veteran and emerging Singapore practitioners. These will be either pre-recorded in The Necessary Stage Black Box or via Zoom. Each performance slot will feature two plays streamed to a public audience via Zoom, followed by a post-show dialogue with the playwrights, facilitated by Haresh Sharma.
The series begins with Issac Juehao Lim’s What Is Sex?, as various seemingly ordinary characters navigate the world of sex and sexuality, followed by Saleem Hadi’s Where are my crows and pigeons, pondering over the idea that we bottle up our emotions, and bear the risk of exploding at any point. Euginia Tan’s Fortunes follows a spa assistant struggling to reveal a fortune teller’s reading to her client, while Jaryl George Solomon’s kink explores the humour and horror of gay sex. Shireen Abdullah’s Sengsara (Samsara) takes inspiration from Dave Chua’s short story The Vanishing, where a mass of people suddenly disappear, while Aswani Aswath’s Melanin and the Hungry Ghost tackles racism when an Indian woman asks a spirit to make her Chinese, and her Chinese co-worker enters an Indian body.
Rajkumar Thiagaras’ The Cove is based off the 1993 Tanjong Rhu undercover anti-gay operation, while searching… by Teo Pei Si explores Chinese Singaporean identity, as five strangers who die in an accident are asked to process their applications for reincarnations, only, they’ve forgotten their names. Finally, Mark Benedict Cheong’s White Moth explores dementia, caregiving and familial relationships, while A Yagnya’s Hi, Can You Hear Me? follows characters whose routines are thrown into chaos, while their paths cross and they figure out what is left to cling onto.
“The cohort of Playwrights’ Cove 2020 include some of Singapore’s boldest and brightest young playwrights, who have passion, drive and an ability to write fierce plays,” remarks Haresh Sharma. “We have been meeting every Saturday since July, and I am very excited that their works in progress will debut before an online audience.”
Playwrights’ Cove’s dramatised readings will take place online from 17th to 20th December 2020. Attendance is free via registration on Eventbrite