Arts Preview Singapore Theatre

Wild Rice announces new play ‘Straight Acting’ by Thomas Lim

Leading theatre company Wild Rice has announced a brand new play by Thomas Lim premiering this October. Best known for writing the critically-acclaimed Grandmother Tongue and Supervision, get ready as Thomas tackles the topic of LGBTQ+ people and housing with Straight Acting.

Straight Acting introduces us to two LGBTQ+ couples who pretend to be straight in order to start a family and make a life together. Unlike his previous two, more drama-inclined scripts, Straight Acting is poised as a heartfelt comedy about the drama of trying to keep things straight… when you’re anything but.

All Jaime and Olivia (Eve Voigtlander and Deonn Yang) want to do is start a family and make a life together. But as a queer couple, that’s not something that’s going to happen anytime soon in ‘straight-laced’ Singapore. To make the system work for them, Olivia and Jaime get their gay best friends, Russell and Jia Ming (Tan Shou Chen and Darren Guo), in on the act. Together, they pretend to be two happy, heteronormative couples living in wedded bliss.

At first, blending a little fiction into the facts of their lives seems to go well. But things start to fall apart when Jia Ming’s mother (Goh Guat Kian) visits unexpectedly. Suddenly, the four friends find themselves wondering: is living a lie really living at all? Straight Acting then boldly examines – and redefines – what home truths and family values mean in Singapore.

Lim was inspired by stories about the arduous process that LGBTQ+ parents must undergo in order to start and have their families be recognised in Singapore. These include the landmark case of a gay man who was finally allowed by Singapore’s high court to adopt his own biological child in 2018, four years after he first began legal proceedings. In 2020, his appeal for his long-term partner to be granted guardianship and joint custody of their children was rejected.

“I was deeply moved by the lengths that these parents would go in order to have children,” explains Lim, who will also be directing the play. “And I was equally unnerved by the way efforts were swiftly made to change policies and processes to prevent more LGBTQ+ parents from doing the same thing.”

“With Straight Acting, I hope that we can begin to recognise, accept and support the shared dreams, aspirations and love that all parents have for their children and families.”

– Thomas Lim

“As a theatre company, Wild Rice’s mission has always been to tell stories that need to be told, to shine a light on under-represented communities,” says Ivan Heng, the company’s Founding Artistic Director. “We are looking forward to welcoming audiences to Straight Acting, which takes an unflinching look at how we define love and family here in Singapore, and asks us if it’s time for old ways and mindsets to change.”

Continuing the queer theme in November will be the triumphant return of Pam Oei’s critically-acclaimed one-woman show Faghag, which we praised as “a riot of a show” and “the fine origin story of a modern superhero”.

Documenting her journey as one of Singapore’s biggest LGBTQ+ allies and activists, Faghag was originally playing to full houses at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre earlier this year when its run was cut short in late July, as Singapore again tightened restrictions on live performances under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).

At the time, Wild Rice had to cancel 11 sold-out performances of Faghag, disappointing close to 1,500 patrons who were looking forward to watching the show. Before the production abruptly closed, the company had also been fielding requests from the public to extend the run.

“It was no easy feat but we reprogrammed the rest of our 2021 season so we could bring Faghag back – with some additional performances for good measure,” says Ivan Heng. “To everyone who missed out on getting tickets, this will be your last chance to watch this fabulous production!”

On her part, Oei is glad to have the opportunity to finish out the run of this show, which is near and dear to her heart. “We’ve received so many lovely messages from audience members who were profoundly moved by Faghag,” says Oei. “I’m thrilled that we can share this show and its message of love, pride and acceptance with even more people.”

Photo Credit: Wild Rice

Straight Acting runs from 4th to 24th October, while Faghag runs from 4th to 14th November 2021, both at Wild Rice @ Funan. Tickets will be available from 6th September on SISTIC, with more information for both shows available here

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