Collaboration

 

1994 - Trishaw

Short Description
The Cast
Josephine Peter

TRISHAW is not reflective of a collective vision but it is a journey towards it. I've thought much about my work with Haresh whilst doing this project. It is because of our deep friendship that we are able to challenge, take risks and negotiate a common vision in our plays. I am only beginning to develop similar friendships here. I have faith that with time, the Strathclyde-Singapore memorandum would have paved the way for lasting friendships among people of Scotland and Singapore—friendships that would make people of Europe and Asia secure enough to recognise and explore cultural conflict that can create an honest and organic global stage.
 

1998 - The Necessary Pages Issue 2

Short Description
Alvin Tan—Profile
Jeff Chen

The director never demanded anything. He would rather guide his actors through various improvisational techniques to try different ways of delivering their lines, ways of moving their bodies, and even ways of blocking themselves on stage. Somehow, a common vision seems to take shape during the course of the rehearsals. The only demand he makes is for collaboration. He inspires collaboration.
 

1997 - Galileo (I feel the earth move)

Short Description
Commentary/Analysis

Q: So how has working with such a big team changed the dynamics of collaboration - is it now the most democratic way of allowing the voices of all artists in a production to be on board?

Alvin Tan: Through this production, I have become aware of some things. First that roles can be shared and changed - depending on the personalities, or if you will - the egos, involved. As for democracy, I have come to realise that the spirit of it is important in the exploratory phase of the production, but that sometimes too the process can fail - and that's when the exploration has to stop and time for an over-seeing vision, 'the Outside Eye' to prevail.
 

1997 - Pillars

Short Description
A Note from the Co-ordinator
Roslan Badron

The idea of a collaboration between a Malay and English theatre company was discussed between Alvin, Haresh and a member of Teater Kami since the time TNS and Teater Kami were housed in ONE-TWO=-SIX Cairnhill Arts Centre four years ago but shelved until recently, due to other commitments by both companies.
 

1997 - The Entire World is a Foreign Land

Short Description
The Process
Noel Greig and Haresh Sharma

The next task was to devise a method whereby the acting team could be drawn into the process. On returning to Singapore, Alvin and Haresh brought together a team who could take on board a devising process which incorporated a major element of their own writing.
 

1997 - 9 Lives

Short Description
Imaginary Fronts: The Necessary Stage and the Problems of Representation
Lee Weng Choy

There are some problems with TNS's theoretical assumptions concerning collaboration, and these are the ones I want to address. For starters, their assumption that a self-consciousness of their process will then lead to a multiplicity of voices—this logic has to be rigorously unpacked. There are many instances of self-conscious theatre from all over the world which betray an unsophisticated understanding of decentralising—or to use postmodernist parlance, deconstructing—the privilege of those with the power to speak.
 

1997 - 9 Lives

Short Description
Collaboration and Social Commitment in The Necessary Stage
Audrey Wong

The coincidence of the dramatic and the social realms has become a feature of TNS's recent collaborative work, as demonstrated in the group's attempts to develop a community-based theatre, beginning with Lelong Lelong and There Is A Tree in Tampines (1995). Here, collaboration no longer means working with actors to create a play; it also meant working with an entire community, with no tradition of theatre-going and which functioned in various different languages. Working with the audience of residents, with grassroots organisations to produce something which would be relevant to all.
 

1997 - 9 Lives

Short Description
A Necessary Practice
Alvin Tan

For TNS, collaboration is a methodology of resistance; resisting the rationalised mindsets ingrained in cultures of both contemporary urban lifestyles and the production structure of the traditional Western model theatre. Intense competition had created an environment that jeopardised social cohesion. Individualism was rife, and when combined with pragmatism, could result in the focus on self-interest. Oppressive power structures that imposed limits and constraints have inspired the cliched image of rebellious artists who pursued freedom of expression either by outright confrontation (agit-prop) or intense retreatism and introspection (autonomous and ahistorical postmodern works). Collaboration, however, is about constant negotiation, dialogue and interaction between artists and audience. Many things can still happen in the 'play' of things.
 

1999 - BrainStorm

Short Description
Chong Tze Chien: Your role as director has been increasingly "invisible"—there is no clear authorship. Granted that The Necessary Stage's works have always been collaborative and BrainStorm (what's that in your head?) is just an extension of this ideology, do you see yourself more as a conceptualist now as opposed to a director?

Alvin Tan: BrainStorm (what's in your head?) is another effort to maintain the plurality of The Necessary Stage. In order to nurture the notion of co-authorship and plural space, it is essential that exploration does not cease. Secondly, it is necessary for the people who occupy power positions to step aside as much as possible or where possible so as to free the space for others to occupy. I say as much as possible because I do not believe that giving up a leadership responsibility totally is the way to go.
 

2000 - Playwright's Web

Short Description
Students from Tanjong Katong Sec Sch and St. Hilda's Sec Sch are thrilled that they are paired with their counterparts in Milton High School in Calgary. They have exchanged clueboxes, which contained "clues" on each other's culture and lifestyle, journals and cassette tapes containing recordings of discussions on pre-agreed topics, and email addresses.
 

2001 - One Hundred Years in Waiting

Short Description
Message from The Necessary Stage & Theatre Practice

We have realised that creative partnership can only work when there is mutual respect. However, different values and perceptions that provide creative tension are also necessary.

The Theatre Practice and The Necessary Stage share many similar aesthetic beliefs but the two companies also differ in many ways. Every partnership spells out different working arrangements, but if we focus on the strengths, the differences can be sorted out. In this partnership the difference has been a source of artistic and creative stimulation. Working together has created opportunities for members of both companies to glimpse, and if one chooses, immerse oneself in a wider range of viewpoints in the artistic, administrative and production aspects.
 

2001 - FamFest 2001

Short Description
Artistic Director's Message
Alvin Tan

As much as theatre can be commodified, it also holds the potential to "heal" communities by opening up its processes to participation and interaction. Through active and meaningful participation, participants are encouraged to communicate and confront; doing away with denial and bringing forth suppressed text(s) so that the community's needs are made more transparent. Theatre as an art form acts as a strong mediator for needs assessment and can effectively facilitate social and cultural transformation to build a more vibrant community.
 

2004 - Ask Not

Short Description
Second-Generation Artists 2: Jeff Chen

Jeff: In terms of my position in the company, we’re talking about existing in a group of artists and collaborating on projects. I’m a no-nonsense kind of person. Democracy in the rehearsal process and all that: for me, cannot lah. I’m just too lazy to go through that kind of stuff. Democracy is a lot of hard work. Just make the decision. I believe that only one should lead or it will dilute the vision. Working with another director, I always insist that they give me boundaries. I always ask them what they want.

Kee Hong: Does that run into tensions and problems within an artistic and creative process?

Jeff: I think tensions are completely unavoidable. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing either But if one expects to collaborate, then there will be serious tensions. I’ve got serious unresolved conflicts with a lot of people but that doesn’t matter because I work with them on a project basis. If they are full-time in the company, things usually wouldn’t become too bad, because in the company the tensions don’t really quite last, because at the end of the day, it is very close-knit. It’s like a family around here. It’s like… it’s like you can’t choose, you see. You have to live with it.
 

2004 - Ask Not

Short Description
Society-State Collaboration in Singapore: The Necessary Stage and the Arts Education Programme
Terence Chong

As we have seen, society-state collaboration is not necessarily a doomed relationship. As the case of The Necessary Stage and the AEP reveals, it is a complex one with multiple politics playing out on different levels that may either implode on one level and disrupt the entire collaborative process or be accepted as part and parcel of a difficult but possible working strategy of civil activism... Intra-state collaboration is an often-ignored feature of society-state collaborations, the consequence of which is misdiagnosis of the success and failure of society-state collaborations. Furthermore, society-state collaborations do not necessarily promise, nor should they necessarily promise the absence of interest conflict between NGO and state. Instead, collaborations should be seen as a specific platform on which negotiations, even resistance can play out.
 

2004 - Ask Not

Short Description
The More We Get Together... The Happier We'll Be: Collaborations with NGOs and the Private Sector
Yap Ching Wi

There are three parts to this investigation. The first provides several conceptual frameworks, examines the context of how collaboration is conceptualised and practised in Singapore society, and discusses the nature of collaboration by The Necessary Stage in this context. The second goes behind the scenes to explore the internal processes of a collaborative project, FamFest 2001, which will draw out the complexity of assumptions and relationships behind the people, public and private sectors, which reveal the need for organisational adaptation and learning in order for collaborative initiatives to succeed. The third reflects on the crucial ingredients needed for a successful collaboration: the role of the individual and the slow, long process of enabling a culture of collaboration. The investigation ends with an offering of resources to individuals and organisations to nourish their continued commitment to collaboration.
 

2011 - Shorts 2

Short Description
The Open Text
Alvin Tan

Picking a play from Shorts 2, a director is invited to be a co-creator with Sharma, even if s/he wishes to contest the basic premise of the primary text. Most texts in Shorts 2 are indeterminate, open, deliberately incomplete if one wants them to be, provisional and therefore transformable. This obviously is not conventional mainstream playwriting, so much so that Sharma stands out as a versatile and open theatre collaborator, capable of innovating text for a range of theatrical forms.
 

2012 - Crossings

Short Description
What has been the most impactful aspect to come out of this collaboration, and what has been the most challenging?

Edvin Liveric: Apart form the issue of collaborating over long distance, there is also the aspect of two disparate theatrical aesthetics and poetics, which we have to "marry" to the satisfaction of both parties.
 

2014 - Eclipse

Short Description
Out Of The Eclipse:
International collaboration, friendship and what devising theatre makes possible
Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma

What was so pertinent about that moment in our theatre history was located in the site of collaborative, devising theatre-making. There, mutual respect hosted and nurtured the beginnings of cross-cultural exchange in the spirit of cultural diversity. A cosmopolitan environment in both countries, accompanied with a political will towards transformative exchange, became the perfect ground where the devising process allowed theatre practitioners from Glasgow to work on an equal footing with their counterparts from a Commonwealth country such as Singapore.