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1988 - The Necessary Stage Newsletter

1988 - The Necessary Stage Newsletter
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Newsletter

We have a lot to thank for! And well, we also have a lot of work ahead of us. The Necessary Stage (TNS) is undergoing yet another phase—consolidation.

Needless to say we need your help. This is your group. Make your membership meaningful—Get Involved!
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2002 - focas #3

2002 - focas #3
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The Death and Rebirth of the Playwright

Haresh Sharma: Some of the collaborations that I have with Alvin, for example–we stopped using "director" and "playwright", we just say "conceptualised". There are some productions where parts are written by myself, some parts are devised, edited, transcribed and reworked... am I a playwright or do I call myself an editor?
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2015 - TOP Showcase 1

2015 - TOP Showcase 1
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In 2014, The Necessary Stage launched The Orange Playground (TOP), a creative research and development programme for emerging and established artists. [...]

TOP 2015 will be all about artistic explorations amongst disciplines. We are dedicating more time to processing the interaction of different disciplines to discover new forms and vocabularies. usually, the explorations happen within a production's time frame. We have discovered that we need more time to do so and hence the different focus for TOP 2015.
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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Second-Generation Artists 1: Chong Tze Chien

Tze Chien: The participants of BrainStorm (what’s that in your head?), which Lift was part of, were given free rein in where we wanted to stage our works. The production manager brought me on a survey of the Museum’s premise about four months before the production. I was looking for a challenging space to work with, and when I saw the lift, I thought staging a play inside would be rather exciting. […]

The lift itself was run-down, cranky and loud. Even though it was big enough to fit a car inside, it lent itself to a very ominous and claustrophobic atmosphere. When its double-layered doors were shut, one felt as though one was sealed in a tomb. Immediately the theme of entrapment surfaced. The location of the lift also suggested something marginalised, existing at the underbelly of gloss that permeates the rest of the Museum and its art galleries. I thought of a cabaret and its performers, and how they are artists working with an art form that requires no less discipline and craft than other art forms, but is deemed as fluff entertainment like clowns in a circus, not taken seriously. But from that, it also earns its characteristics of irrelevance, satiric stance and acerbic humour. But I don’t think any curator in any museum in the world would invite a cabaret act into their premises. Refused entry, rejected and hidden. I thought of a transvestite: physically trapped; an illegal immigrant: geographically bound; and an individual: spiritually dislocated—fighting to get out of the country. With each character, the theme of entrapment was reflected and fleshed out. And Lift My Mind was born.
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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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.
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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Second-Generation Artists 4: Sean Tobin

Alvin: Let’s talk about censorship where youth and community work are concerned.

Sean: Everywhere we go in educational circles, the government and sponsors, especially those who are opening up to the arts, I hear them say things like “I realise that arts is a very powerful too.” You hear it said again and again. You realise people see the power first. The Instrument. So although they get ex tied about the power, as it can give people a voice, they also hold a very deep fear, that in the wrong hands it can be very dangerous.

[…] Sometimes we consciously try to keep on mind the audience and the general public opinion in the same way the government does about not condoning and not celebrating ays but still employing them. Reason being: people are not ready. We also do the same thing in a way, but I think Lanterns was a big risk because it was a huge jump and we didn’t warn anyone. So for me, part of the question still in my mind is: if we know early enough, do we have the responsibility to warn people?
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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Second-Generation Artists 3: Natalie Hennedige

Sean: Can you describe in detail your journey as a director/collaborator?

Natalie: [...] Another method I used was something I picked up as an actor working with Alvin and Haresh in ABUSE SUXXX!!! There was this exercise where we were asked to put on random costumes within a very short span of time and then we were given characters which had very little to do with what we were wearing and we'd start a scene. So I used a variation of that exercise in Lanterns—I gave them random costumes and they started a scene. And that was how the taxi driver character was born! Mani played the taxi driver. I had no idea that I was going to incorporate this taxi driver character. At first I was a little worried about Mani, because he wasn't a very experienced improviser. I mean he had a lot of strong qualities as an actor and his comic potential was a gift from God, but he was uncomfortable with random improvisations. But once he discovered the character of the taxi-driver, his improvisations became unbelievably powerful. A lot of the text that he came up with, I used verbatim and the audience really loved it.

In most cases, this kind of work is transcribed by a volunteer, but I decided to do the transcribing myself, so that I could 'craft' it on the spot. It was a tedious process but very effective. I cut and pasted on the spot, pressed pause and re-wrote certain segments... I was able to capture the best of what the actors had to offer, craft and mould it to suit where I wanted it to go.
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1997 - 9 Lives

1997 - 9 Lives
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Arts Education in Civic Society: A Forum on Arts Education in Singapore

Alvin Tan: Last, I want to turn to the question of building audiences and the development of TNS's collaborative techniques in the production of plays. Building audiences is now becoming a concern, but I want to ask if there can be an intimate relation between building audiences and concentrating on the professional development (of practitioners). Can there be a relation between doing research for artistic projects in communities and being accountable as practitioners to audiences? Can the 2 be brought together in a responsible and committed way of building audiences? Actually this is what our Community Service Theatre branch (CST) is about. Once a practitioner doing community theatre exclaimed to me: "What does it mean to say we bring theatre to the people? Theatre came from the people." This left an impression in my mind, it made me realise how much we, as artists or practitioners, need the community as much as it needs us.
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1997 - 9 Lives

1997 - 9 Lives
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Notes on Proscriptions and Manners
Janadas Devan

There you have it, in black and white. No one can say that the government did not lay its cards on the table: Forum Theatre is scriptless; it makes possible the emrgence of unstructured voices' and that makes it difficult for the licensing authority to monitor performances. Forum Theatre, in other words, is objectionable because it is a form which manifests difference.

Unfortunately for Forum Theatre, there was no Palestrina in sight to convince the authorities that this instance of polyphony, no more than the other, was not threatening in the least; that the authorities could in fact have used the form, like the Church did Palestrina, for its own purpose. But the very suggestion of difference—""scriptless"" performances, ""spontaneous audience participation""—that alone was enough to set the alarm bells ringing.

Some things simply do not change.
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1997 - 9 Lives

1997 - 9 Lives
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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.
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