Homegrown theatre group Drama Box has crossed its first 30-year mark. To document the different aspects of their approach to theatre-making over the three decades, it has been working with Pagesetters Services on Drama Box 30 Keywords, a publication based on 30 keywords conceptualised by the editor Quah Sy Ren. The book features 30 essays based on the selected keywords, and comes in English and Chinese editions, both to be launched on 26 February 2022.
Tracing the development of Drama Box from its beginnings in the 1990s, its venture into community theatre, its incubatory platform “Blanc Space”, its shift from Chinese-language theatre, to its social engagement, cross-sectoral and educational work, besides illustrating the history of Drama Box, the essays also offer an understanding of Drama Box within the Singapore theatre communities it has engaged with and the society at large.
Much has been said about the depth of its engagement with public audiences through community theatre, multilingual and site-specific performances, and the relevance to the concerns of society and individuals.
“The company is not only a creator of theatre works, but also engages in reflection on the artist’s avant-garde spirit, manifested and developed into concrete action to deeply engage society and change the less-than-ideal status quo,” says Quah.
Drama Box is humbled to have its story put together by the different friends and collaborators who have been part of its journey over the 30 years. This thoughtful undertaking involves the wits and writing of 24 contributors, including critics such as Clarissa Oon and Corrie Tan, academics such as Charlene Rajendran, Ng How Wee, Robin Loon and Yeo Min Hui, practitioners such as Chong Gua Khee, Neo Hai Bin and Shawn Chua, as well as producers such as Mok Cui Yin.
To celebrate the launch, six speakers who have been integral parts of Drama Box at different junctures will be speaking on a panel discussion, about their journey with the theatre group, each based on a keyword from the book, and their imagination of Drama Box’s future. The speakers are: Adib Kosnan, Kwek Jim See, Lee Shyh Jih, Li Xie, Peh Ching Her & Tan Chong Boon.
Drama Box 30 Keywords is the first of three publications about the work of Drama Box to be launched. The theatre group is also working with Performance Research Books on Changing Places: Drama Box and the Politics of Space, jointly edited by Charlene Rajendran and Richard Gough. Readers can also expect an English edition of Drama Box and the Social Theatre of Singapore, an investigation on how theatre practitioners in Singapore negotiate for artistic autonomy and practise cultural intervention, originally written in Chinese by Dr Ng How Wee, to be launched in 2023.
Drama Box 30 Keywords launches on 26th February 2022. For a limited time from 7 till 26 February, Drama Box 30 Keywords is available for advance order via dramabox30.pagesetters.com.sg at a promotional price, with bundle and donation options available for those who wish to support Drama Box.