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1997 - 9 Lives

1997 - 9 Lives
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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.
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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Jacked Off with No Pleasure: Censorship and The Necessary Stage
Ray Langenbach

When they censored the scenes in sex.violence.blood.gore the government inadvertently made their own agency appear to be the object of Boy Boy's polemic against the faceless "voyeur". The desire of the censor to enter into the 'arena' of the play (again as the audience was invited to do in Forum Theatre), and to excise those lines, scenes and characters it does not condone, conflates the desire of the voyeur to control 'his' object of desire through the appropriating of that object as 'image'. Censorship, then, through the association with the voyeur, is tagged in this passage as the unsatisfying and unpleasurable masturbating of another's penis.
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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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.
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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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.
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2004 - Ask Not

2004 - Ask Not
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What Art Makes Possible: Remembering Forum Theatre
Sanjay Krishnan

A historical sensibility will emerge only if we learn to open ourselves to the present as historical, in all its complexity and imperfection. This requires being open to more than one way of thinking about the present and a willingness to take seriously differences of opinion. For, unlike the past, which has come to be frozen in a particular representation or idea, the present is always open to contestation and debate. When we learn to trust people to investigate the present for themselves, we simultaneously open a path back into the past, and different ways of understanding how we got to the present. This is how we restore the pulse and life-blood to history as an activity that genuinely concerns us as individuals and as a people, as something that grows and changes just as we grow and change as a nation. This open and free historical reflection is the only way to ensure that people, not least young Singaporeans, will establish a committed relation to the country. For historical reflection is that relation.
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2011 - Shorts 2

2011 - Shorts 2
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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.
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1998 - The Necessary Pages Issue 2

1998 - The Necessary Pages Issue 2
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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.
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1998 - Postmodern Elements of Theories and Practice

1998 - Postmodern Elements of Theories and Practice
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Too Many Cooks Spoil The Soup? The Pitfalls of Collaboration and Lessons Learnt
Alvin Tan

Collaboration "is a recognition of the high status and artistic quality of partner" (Hughes, 1996:10). S/he must use his/her discipline's vocabulary to initiate and improvise in an exploratory manner so that the artistic team can better decide if what is proposed can contribute to the work. Problems/limitations usually challenge an artist's creativity. In a non-hierarchical arrangement, when a collaborator disagrees with a director, s/he must assert his/her stand; affecting rather than interpreting the director's vision. [...]

In transforming how artists relate to one another in a less hierarchical structure, the traditional roles should be allowed to remain. The paradigm shift is to open up other possible working methods. For example, Sharma's initial notion of empowering actors was to impart some playwriting skills/rules to enable them to author their own character's dialogue or scenarios. He has since shifted to watching and learning the ways actors use their bodies to express their character's motivations in physical performance. He has begun working closely with a choreographer. He has struggled to understand and appreciate how a performance score can work alongside literary text and have just sat back during physical improvisations and allowed the created images to speak to him. In not knowing the briefs, what he observed may be far from or close to an actor's intention. But more importantly the experience have inspired new working paradigms for him; how to write word-texts that would supplement the visual and/or performance texts. Sharma's style of writing and not his role has changed.

2001 - M1 Youth Connection 2001

2001 - M1 Youth Connection 2001
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M1 Youth Connection 2001
Alvin Tan

For this festival, we have set ourselves the task of reaching out to artists in other fields. If more youths begin to see how the other art forms can also be in a theatre festival, perhaps a fusion or integration of the forms will come about in a more evolutionary way. After all, we need more events that suggest multi-disciplinary works. Building the environment where different artists can begin to interact is not an easy one and should not be underestimated. So hopefully in M1YC 2001, we will continue the interaction of artists from different fields.
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1997 - 9 Lives

1997 - 9 Lives
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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.
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