Arts Competition Preview Singapore Theatre

Registration now open for T:>works’ 24-Hour Playwriting Competition 2022

Now into its 25th year, the much-loved playwriting competition in Singapore, the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition returns on 16-17 July. For the first time, T:>Works invites past participant and transdisciplinary poet and performance maker, Ang Kia Yee, to conceptualise this year’s competition. They responded to the call by proposing the first ever hybrid competition with a focus on ecocentric considerations, exploring liveability and sustainability.

The T:>Works 24-Hour Playwriting Competition was first held in 1996 and developed as part of TheatreWorks Writers’ Lab conceptualised by Artistic Director Ong Keng Sen. It is designed to connect the arts with the community. Participants write a completely new play in 24 hours, with various stimuli given throughout the time period. It comprises two categories, Youth and Open, and aims to nurture and develop playwrights from the community.

Ang Kia Yee previously participated and won prizes in the 24-Hour Playwriting Competitions of 2013, 2015, and 2018. Invited to conceptualise this year’s competition, Ang proposed a hybrid event which comprises both on-site and online gatherings, as well as an eco-centric theme.

“As with most of my work, the process was a matter of following my intuition. In this case, it asks ‘What shades of mourning/grief/fear need public airing and collective dreaming, in order to move from helplessness to empowered healing and change?’ This question led me to ideas that relate to land and our contested ties to it as well as the pressing questions of living sustainably with our environments. As the competition seeks to open up rather than prescribed perspectives, I thought of the two contrasting sites as stimuli that will inspire and set the writers thinking,” recounts Ang.

During research for the competition, Ang found multiple farms, including Green Circle Eco-Farm, whose leases are ending after more than two decades of nurturing the land. Showing signs of how contested resources are in Singapore, Green Circle’s predicament is a prime example of the need to find a balance between development and sustainability. Participants of the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition may possibly be the last visitors to the farm before it is returned to the State at the end of July.

The second location is Magorium, an innovative start-up which offers an alternative view to sustainability with proprietary recycling technology as a solution to plastic waste, literally paving the way towards a more sustainable future. Participants in the playwriting competition may visit either of these two locations and are invited to incorporate elements from these sites into their final scripts.

Judges this edition are established writers Jean Tay and Nabilah Said, as well as emerging theatre-maker Cherilyn Woo. The judges will also be on hand during the competition to brainstorm ideas and share survival tips with participants.

The eco-centric sensibility is also extended to the writing workshop which accompanies the competition annually. This year the writing workshop is led by Esther Vincent, the author of Red Earth (Blue Cactus Press, 2021) and editor-in-chief and founder of The Tiger Moth Review. Looking at eco-writing and specifically working off literature, she invites participants to consider how approaches to writing from different genres such as creative non-fiction enable them to see scripting differently.

The 24-Hour Playwriting Competition 2022 runs from 16th to 17th July 2022, 11am to 11am. These include tours to Green Circle Eco-Farm or Magorium, with online gatherings on Telegram and Zoom. Register here

Writing Workshop: Shifting Perspective with Esther Vincent takes place on 9th July 2022 from 2-4.30pm online via Zoom. Register here

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