Wild Rice’s 2020 season has just come to an end, but already, they’re gearing up for a busy 2021 ahead. Not only will they be continuing to present the remainder of their Directors’ Residency presentations, but they’ve now announced an additional three shows to be presented in the first quarter of 2021.
“In the face of ongoing uncertainty, we are only able to announce the first three productions of 2021. Nevertheless, we are pressing ahead with an exciting and eclectic season, including two world premieres, that will thrill audiences,” says Ivan Heng, Founding Artistic Director of Wild Rice.
If you missed all of its previous sold-out runs, then you have one more chance to catch Grandmother Tongue in January. Back by popular demand, Grandmother Tongue marked Wild Rice Associate Artistic Director Thomas Lim’s debut when it premiered at the Singapore Theatre Festival back in 2016, and received multiple nominations at the Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards (for Production of the Year, Best Original Script, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor).
Originally slated to open in April 2020, Grandmother Tongue is written and directed by Thomas Lim, and will feature the original cast of Jalyn Han, Tan Shou Chen and Rei Poh reprising their roles. In part a play about the loss of dialects thanks to Singapore’s mother tongue policy, and at its heart a show about connecting with family, Grandmother Tongue will once again bring humour and heartbreak in equal parts to the stage, as it explores how our identities are bound up with the languages that we use and the ones that we lose.
“There will be a real sense of intimacy to this production, because our audiences will be very close to the stage and the action,” says Thomas, commenting on how it will be staged in the Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre for the first time. “That harks back to the first staging of the show, and I’m excited for people to experience this story in this way again.”
While fans of Wild Rice’s annual Christmas pantomime may have been disappointed this year, the company hasn’t skipped out on it completely – instead, replacing it with a family-friendly Chinese New Year pantomime in February instead, with The Amazing Celestial Race. Written by Dwayne Lau, directed by Glen Goei and featuring music by Julian Wong, The Amazing Celestial Race takes inspiration from the origin story of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar.
Featuring actors Victoria Chen, Tia Guttensohn, Dwayne Lau, Audrey Luo and Andrew Marko, the ancient folk tale tells of the great race between 12 animals that would ultimately determine the position and
ancient Chinese folk tale about the fierce competition that ultimately determined their positions in the zodiac. Watch as everyone from the rat to the pig give it their all and battle it out to beat the rest!
“We have so many fun and exciting myths and legends available to us here in Singapore,” observes Dwayne Lau, who sees the production as the perfect opportunity for Singaporeans to celebrate and learn more about their history and heritage. “Rather than continually looking to the West for inspiration, I wanted to give our artists and audiences a sense of ownership and pride about our own customs and cultures.”
Finally, March 2021 will see Miriam Cheong making her professional playwriting debut with The Other F Word – a candid, challenging play about what it means to be fat in a world obsessed with thinness. Originally slated to be performed during the 2020 Singapore Theatre Festival (cancelled due to the pandemic), The Other F Word explores Cheong’s complicated relationship with her weight and the way her body is perceived, especially as an actor in a performing arts industry that tends to discriminate on the basis of size.
Directed by Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, the one woman show also stars Cheong, and sees her performing a no-holds barred observation, both frank and funny, about her life as an unwilling member of her school’s Trim and Fit (TAF) Club, to her trials and tribulations as a working actress in Singapore today. Will there ever come a time the taboo is finally broken?
“The word ‘fat’ still carries so many negative connotations in today’s society – we all have deeply ingrained prejudices about fat and fat people,” notes Cheong. “I hope that by sharing my story, we can get people to have honest, important conversations about fatshaming, health and our bodies.”
Photo Credit: Wild Rice
Grandmother Tongue plays from 14th to 31st January 2021, The Amazing Celestial Race from 19th February to 21st March 2021, and The Other F Word from 24th to 28th March 2021, all at Wild Rice @ Funan. Tickets available from SISTIC.