Arts Preview Singapore

Preview: Surviving Hope – A Theatre Play about Hope and Mental Wellness

A local theatre collective group comprising of actors and performers has started a project ‘Surviving Hope’, an original theatre play inspired by real stories exploring notions of hope and mental wellness. 

Surviving Hope sheds light on life’s hidden experiences, and aims to inspire the audience to accept themselves for who they are, no matter how the world changes. The production will be held from 2 to 4 September 2022, at Gateway Theatre Blackbox, a new multi-theatre venue located at the heart of Jalan Bukit Merah.

The term Surviving Hope paints a faint optimism in overcoming our greatest fears and struggles and highlights the importance of staying committed till the very end. The play is presented in covert narrative, through the eyes of children and parents, bringing out the ironies of human behaviours and conflicting mental states.

Playwright Ivan Lim uses his personal experiences and theatrical know-how to juxtapose elements required to express the deepest and most intricate dilemmas faced in broken relationships. Told through narration by kids and parents, the story looks into how our childhood could potentially be a perpetual cycle of its own;  reinforcing our fundamental lack as human beings. 

‘The little things we whisper to ourselves ought to be heard and known. It is important to emphasise that it’s okay not to be okay,’ Ivan adds. 

Surviving Hope is a theatre piece scripted to shed more light on the current stigma made on mental challenges in Singapore. The project seeks to stir deeper conversations and public discourses over mental challenges people face and how it could be important for everyone to see a glimmer of hope in every of our own struggles.

The show is directed by Shana Yap, an actress and director, who has worked on a diverse variety of productions, from physical theatre to musicals, as well as short films & local TV roles. Says Shana: ‘We all walk around with untold stories hoping to be heard, and it’s up to us to live our truth. Through this play, I hope to inspire our audiences to look beyond hope, and to find the courage and strength to live their truths’.  

The 5 member cast is a diverse one filled with different backgrounds and ethnicity. Adi Amon Mesika is an Israeli actress who graduated from acting school at Kibbutzim College in Israel 16 years ago. In the last year, she has trained in HCAC using Strasberg’s method and joined the “Bold Moment” ensemble, exploring different types of physical theatre methods and techniques. 

Sharing about her journey with Surviving Hope thus far, Adi said, ‘For me, “Surviving Hope” is a journey that takes you back in time and space into your childhood, tricks your mind and soul between reality and illusion, and faces you in front of your broken past and unknown future, biggest fears and greatest desires in life. I think as a society, we don’t discuss enough subjects of mental wellness and physical and mental violence inside and outside the family. These issues make us move uncomfortably in our seats, and there is a lot of shame, concealment and even disregard around it’  

Another cast member, James Lee, a current student of Lasalle College of the Arts, specialising in Musical Theatre, shared about his views being part of the production. ‘Being in this play means being able to discuss the subject of mental health on stage, to push it further to the forefront of people’s considerations. I don’t think I will ever tire of constantly talking about it, and the different forms that it manifests in everyone.  Through this play, I hope to encourage more awareness with your own mental health.  Surviving Hope is a reminder to me that hope is always omnipresent, and it will be hard to remember that when shit hits the fan. You don’t have to always press yourself to be optimistic, but when the time comes, let it fill up your heart and carry you forward’.

Other cast members include Nini Chaiyanara, Risa Ann Wong and Miranda Ng. Nini is a Thai actor who has lived in Singapore since 1994. Risa Ann Wong, who has both accolades in film and theatre, has written and directed her own independent and children’s projects. Miranda is a recent Lasalle graduate in the musical theatre scene.

One of the main supporters and sponsors of the production is Beam Artiste, a premier talent and entertainment agency which has managed the careers of carefully selected artistes in Singapore & the region. A partnership was made to highlight the initiatives of mental positivity through the most prestigious local male pageant Mr World Singapore 2022. Snippets of the play will be showcased in the pre-judging rounds as contestants pick up more skills in acting, singing, hosting and performing, and also during the Grand Finals.

Surviving Hope also hopes to encourage more dialogues on social media and during the staging of the shows. Two post-show dialogues would be held to discuss more on mental wellness awareness in Singapore.

Surviving Hope runs from 2nd to 4th September 2022 at Gateway Arts Centre Black Box. Tickets available from Peatix

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