Wild Rice has announced a new slate of shows as part of its 2021 season. Crafted around deeply personal stories, each production promises to take audiences on thought-provoking journeys of growth and self-discovery.
“At a time when we’ve all been grounded in Singapore by the pandemic, there is one place you can go that can take you on journeys which are at once epic and intimate – the theatre,” says Ivan Heng, Wild Rice’s Founding Artistic Director.
“In the company of some of Singapore‘s finest storytellers, venture with Wild Rice to places you’ve never been before – geographically, emotionally and spiritually.”
These ‘epic journeys’ kick start in the first weekend of April, with Apsaras Arts Dance Company’s Agathi / Refugee. Collaborating with Wild Rice, this production brings the classical Indian dance tradition of Bharatanatyam to The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre for the first time. The performance examines the lives and plights of refugees – people who have been displaced from their homes since time immemorial because of political turmoil or natural calamity.
This reimagined production draws inspiration from Apsaras Arts Artistic Director Aravinth Kumarasamy’s own experience as a refugee in his youth. “We want to give voice to refugee children all over the world – to chronicle and explore their shared experience of fleeing from their homes and rebuilding lives in new lands,” says Kumarasamy. “I am personally honoured to collaborate with Ivan and Wild Rice – who are important role models in Singapore on how art can transform, teach and heal – to make this show a memorable experience for all.”
Next up, from April to May, Pooja Nansi presents her one woman show You Are Here, thematically carrying on Agathi / Refugee’s commentary on the refugee experience by shining a spotlight on the migrant experience. Directed by Edith Podesta, the show examines the ways in which new histories and identities are forged when people move away from the countries where they were born.
“You Are Here is a project that came out of me trying to make sense of who I am and where I feel like I belong,” explains Nansi, who moved to Singapore from India with her parents before the age of two. “I hope this show expands people’s ideas of belonging and home. Most of us have a history of migration to this country, however forgotten or far in the past. We should explore the rich stories available to us within our own families.”
Come June, beloved performer and outspoken LGBTQ ally Pam Oei brings back her one-woman musical show Faghag. Premiering to rave reviews at the 2018 Singapore Theatre Festival, Faghag charts Oei’s life-long journey with the queer community in Singapore, from her school days to her activism, in this frank, funny and fabulous cabaret celebrates the gay men who have impacted her life. With Section 377A of the Penal Code still in place, the performance also continues to hold a strong political edge and continues to call for its repeal.
“So many of my dear friends in the LGBTQ+ community are very far from having the same rights as me,” says Oei. “Faghag will make you laugh and lift your spirits, but it also doesn’t shy away from exploring the discrimination that my friends continue to suffer in Singapore – the place we call home. I hope that curious audiences come to the show with open minds and leave with open hearts.”
Finally, in July all the way till National Day, celebrate the man behind one our most iconic songs – Zubir Said, who composed our national anthem, Majulah Singapura. Written and performed by composer and musician Julian Wong, and directed by Ivan Heng, Don’t Call Him Mr Mari Kita is an intimate biographical concert about Zubir Said’s life. Intent on pursuing his dreams of becoming a musician, Zubir left his village in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, for the bright lights and big bands of Singapore.
Over the years, Zubir made his home here, becoming a pioneer of Singapore’s music industry. He taught some of its leading lights, including the late Iskandar Ismail. Zubir encouraged a young Iskandar to further his music studies – advice that Iskandar wound up sharing with his protégé, Julian Wong, three decades later – a fascinating chain of events.
“I created this show to share my appreciation for – and fascination with – my teacher’s teacher,” says Wong. “Zubir Said was so much more than ‘Mr. Mari Kita’. I hope audiences will come away from this show with a better understanding of who he is as a man – his courage, his convictions, his sacrifices – while also gaining an appreciation of his beautiful music. In my mind, there is no better composer whose music can unite us in a time of uncertainty and division.”
Photo Credit: Wild Rice
Agathi / Refugee plays from 2nd to 4th April. You Are Here plays from 22nd April to 2nd May, Faghag plays from 3rd June, and Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita plays from 22nd July to 9th August, all at Wild Rice @ Funan. Tickets available from SISTIC.