The Founding Artistic Director of The Theatre Practice, Mr Kuo Pao Kun, left behind an immense wealth of literature for the future generations – In addition to the numerous scripts, there is also a large collection of critiques and essays. His essays and speeches were mostly published in the 80s and 90s --- More than 200 of them can be found within The Complete Works of Kuo Pao Kun collection. Once, after attending the Australian Arts Festival, Kuo immediately wrote 9 articles for Lian He Zao Bao. Similarly in 1986, after the conclusion of the Singapore Arts Festival, he wrote a 8000-word essay discussing the intricacies of the Arts Festival and its underlying purpose.
It is believed that if a practitioner only engages in performing and does not actively debate nor critique the society or culture he/she resides in, then the value of theatre-making is very much lost. Similarly, if an audience member is only interested in critiquing a theatre work and not interested in thinking deeply about the value of theatre in our society, then he/she loses the true meaning of being an audience. This is the motivation behind this Journal – We want to encourage theatre practitioners to think and analyse issues more thoroughly through the writing, and to let the audience members gain more invaluable information about theatre and the shows they watch. Hopefully, this Journal will also allow reviewers to renew themselves through new ways of critiquing theatre, thereby furthering the discussion on the values and notions of theatre, so that the practitioners will be encouraged to create. Whatever it is, regardless of the means, they are all targeted at trying to get us to think and dig a little deeper at the end of the day.
For example, many theatre groups in Singapore, in addition to making theatre, actively engage in arts education and community efforts. And these are important aspects which we should think deeper about, because they are intertwined with our education system, and provide invaluable insights into our values and morals. This week, the Journal will look at arts education in the formative years, shedding some light on the philosophies of a couple of local theatre practitioners who are involved in arts education.
I interviewed the founder of Practice Performing Arts School, Mdm Goh Lay Kuan, and the Assistant Artistic Director of Dramabox, Koh Hui Ling. Through the interviews, I gained many new insights from these two arts educators of two very different generations. The Artistic Director of Practice Lab, Liu Xiaoyi, will also share with the readers his reflections after having participated as a teacher-mentor for a school competing in the Singapore Youth Festival competition. From his article, it also illustrates and consolidates what arts education in Singapore should be focusing and emphasizing on.
I hope that through these articles, you would also gain newer insights or develop the motivation to initiate change, whether you are a parent, teacher, policy maker, or an ordinary member of the society.
In addition, the Journal this issue will also feature a review on The Bride Always Knocks Twice, a summary of the three playwrights’ reads and exchanges during the Playwrights’ Lab, and a reflective piece written by one of the collaborators of The Mother Hen Next Door – A Tribute, Hung Chit-Wah, chronicling her experience while touring this highly intimate piece of work to various countries.
Regardless, as the first audience of this journal, I have learnt a lot from the articles within, and have also harnessed much more motivation to continue learning from the theatre scene. I hope you will also have the same experience, and subsequently join us in furthering our discussions on the local theatre culture and its relevance.
Continue reading on Issue 2 / May 2014:Opening The Door To The Arts