Showing posts with label SRT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SRT. Show all posts

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Singapore Repertory Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar - A Fascinating, Modern Take on an Old Tale


The weather was sticky and muggy last Sunday evening, but Red Dot Diva felt happy to be back in Fort Canning Park for an evening of theatre accompanied by a enjoyable picnic on the lawn. She was there to indulge in one of the biggest Shakespeare in the Park productions in the region - Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT)'s adaptation of Julius Caesar. The production also part of SRT's 25th Anniversary celebrations.

In 2017, SRT called off the beloved annual Shakespeare in the Park due to funding issues, as they saw large sponsors depart and production costs rise. However, with backing from loyal corporate sponsors as well as support and crowdfunding from an ardent group of theatre lovers, the outdoor production is back in its usual venue, with a huge impressive set!

Right after entering Fort Canning's Gothic Gates, attendees were invited to climb up the stairs from backstage and to walk around the modern, "concrete-and-glass" looking Roman Piazza set. A semi-circular structure held an audio-visual display, and flags of the seven "nations" of the R.O.M.E. alliance marked the stage where the Shakespearean tragedy will later unfold. Standing up on stage with ushers who were dressed the part as government officials, Red Dot Diva felt as if she has already become part of the story.




Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SRT's Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar - Diva's Interview with Director, Guy Unsworth


Freelance director Guy Unsworth is currently back here working on another Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) production - the upcoming performance of Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar.

Last year, he directed the dark comedy SRTs "Hand of God", which scored positive reviews from critics and audiences. His recent works include an acclaimed UK tour of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and his own adaptation of "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em".

Even though he is busy getting the play ready for the 2 May launch date, Red Dot Diva managed to grab a few minutes of his time for an interview:

Red Dot Diva: How did you get involved with SRT's Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar? 
Guy Unsworth: I was introduced to Gaurav Kripalani and Juliet Chia back in 2016 and since then we’ve been talking about the exciting potential of Julius Caesar. I came to Singapore last year to stage Hand to God, and since then have been working solidly on this production.

RDD: What is it like adapting the play for Singapore audiences?
Guy: It’s a fun challenge. I was very keen to find a contemporary equivalent that would work in the international community of Singapore. There’s a lot of talk about Rome and Romans in the play, but specifically the honour, history and responsibility that that identity carries. The big question for me to answer therefore was ‘What is the equivalent of Rome today?’. More than just a literal place, 'Rome' is an identity, it’s a community, and a title which binds these people together. It then struck me that intergovernmental organisations like NATO, the UN, G7, G20 etc. carry stakes on a much more global scale. They require their members to work as a team, but inevitably alliances form and factions are made. And where better to have lots of different nationalities coming together than Singapore? So it seemed a perfect fit to set this at a R.O.M.E. summit.

I was also excited by the age range of the Singapore audiences and I want the show to reach out to younger audience members. When I was a teenager I found Shakespeare very difficult to get my head into, so whenever I direct it, I'm very keen to bear my younger self in mind. It's going to be pretty fast and furious, and there are lots of theatrical surprises along the way. I want to make something which my teenage self would have enjoyed.

RDD: What made you decide to “gender-bend” the roles of Caesar and Cassius? 
Guy: It’s a play about politics and power dynamics, so with a contemporary setting, it would seem backward to cast these figureheads as all male. In fact if we stuck to the original genders, there would be 2 female parts and 45 male parts! Whilst Shakespeare wrote a show about a monumental event in history, he was clearly most interested in the dynamic between his central characters. And whilst the facts of Caesar’s death were roughly documented in history (by Plutarch), the personalities of the main characters and the way they all interact is more an invention of Shakespeare. When casting, I became interested in who these people might be in today’s society, and indeed what their relationships are, and I think our casting reflects some very unique but appropriate choices. Jo Kukuthas plays Caesar, a woman with supreme power in Rome. Whilst gender doesn’t feel so significant that a gender swap would be impossible, it’s the casual descriptions of a man’s world and Caesar’s power over men which seems to have a special resonance across the world today, bringing to the table for discussion the representation and role of women in power, and the attitudes from the public or, indeed, men.

Similarly, the central pairing of Cassius and Brutus, two politicians who collude to overthrow Caesar, seems to have a depth beyond the basic politics. They are emotionally tangled with one another, and the battle between their professional and personal relationship offers great opportunities. I’m thrilled that Julie Wee and Ghafir Akhbar are taking on this very exciting duo.

Monday, April 23, 2018

SRT's Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar - Diva's Interview with Actor, Julie Wee

In Shakespeare's historical and political thriller "Julius Caesar", one could argue that the senator Caius Cassius is more of a baddie than the titular character. After all, the politician was the main instigator of the plot to kill Caesar.

Starting 2 May 2018 at Fort Canning Park, Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) will be presenting Shakespeare in the Park -"Julius Caesar", set in modern times. Two key characters in the play has been cast as females. Well-known actress Jo Kukathas takes up the lead role of Caesar, while Julie Wee - a familiar face for local viewers, having been on Mediacorp 5 TV series like "Moulmein High" and "Light Years" - will be playing the manipulative and politically savvy Cassius.

Julie is no stranger to SRT's Shakespeare in the Park productions either. She has acted as Portia in "The Merchant of Venice", Miranda in "The Tempest", Hero in "Much Ado About Nothing" and Bianca in "Othello". "Julius Caesar" will be her 5th Shakespeare in the Park role!

To get some dibs about Julie's role in "Julius Caesar", Red Dot Diva got in touch with her for a mini interview.

Red Dot Diva: Hi, Julie! It’s just a couple of weeks away from the first day of SRT’s Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar. How excited are you to be finally on stage with a live audience? 
Julie Wee: Very excited! The audience is the missing character in rehearsals, so it's always such a relief to finally have them with us to share the story.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

SRT's Shakespeare In the Park Returns in May 2018 with Julius Caesar

In 2017, something was sorely missing in the local theatre scene. Due to the lack of funds, Singapore Repertory Theatre's (SRT) Shakespeare in the Park was cancelled.

The large-scale production held at the historical Fort Canning Park has never failed to provide memorable moments from the Bard's plays, including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and the Tempest. Red Dot Diva has attended all of them, except for the first one, Hamlet.

Being part of Shakespeare in the Park is a wonderful and magical experience. When you are sitting out on the lawn and enjoying a picnic under the stars, one is easily enraptured by SRT's brilliant performance of Shakespearean stories that have stood the test of time.

Despite the financial obstacles, SRT was undeterred. Last year, the theatre company started a crowdfunding campaign for the next Shakespeare in the Park. Thanks to several generous supporters, SRT has enough funds to kick off the production, and Shakespeare in the Park will be BACK in May 2018! *punches fist in air!*

Sunday, July 23, 2017

SRT's "Forbidden City: Portrait of An Empress" 2017: Diva's Interview with Dick Lee and Cheryl Tan


Step into the world of Cixi, the last Empress Dowager of China, at the re-staging of the musical "Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress". The Singapore Repertory Theatre production, starring local performer Kit Chan as the grown up Cixi, on 8 August 2017 at the Esplanade.

Set in China over a century ago, the lavishly stunning musical production will also include Broadway and West End star Earl Carpenter ("Les Misérables"), local actor Benjamin Chow ("RENT", "The LKY Musical"), Cheryl Tan ("Romeo & Juliet", "Beauty World") as the young concubine Yehenara, and Broadway actress Stephanie Leigh (Mary Poppins).

Cultural Medallion recipient Dick Lee provides the music for "Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress", and Red Dot Diva managed to get hold of the veteran performer/ songwriter for a snappy Q&A. She also got to interview singer-actress Cheryl Tan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

SRT's Shakespeare in the Park 2015: "The Tempest" Raises A Moderate Squall

It rained a couple of hours before showtime when Red Dot Diva attended SRT's Shakespeare in the Park last year (the play was The Merchant of Venice). As fate has it, the weather did a repeat performance again on this year's Labour Day show for "The Tempest".

(Click here to read a previous article on SRT's "The Tempest".)

The dark clouds refused to disperse even after the gates opened at about 6:40PM. As the streaming crowd settled their mats on the lawn, it continued to drizzle. At one point, the rain got heavier, and umbrellas began popping up around the field like colourful mushrooms. Yet, the crowd, hopefuly and undeterred huddling beneath their shade or ponchos, was hopeful that the show will go on.


And it did. It was a sold-out performance that night, and SRT was determined to have the show go on. Luckily, after a short prayer to the weather angels, the rain showed signs of subsiding, with the sky even offering a rainbow tribute. The open-air stage was then promptly wiped and mopped up to get ready for the performance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SRT's Shakespeare In The Park 2015 is "The Tempest"

The Shakespeare in the Park at Fort Canning is becoming a mid-year outdoor tradition for most local drama fans.

The annual production has been successfully presented to theatre goers by leading company Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) for the last number of years. The lavishly produced Shakespearean plays performed have included "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Hamlet", "Much Ado About Nothing", "Macbeth", "The Twelfth Night", "Othello" and "The Merchant of Venice".

This year, "The Tempest" (the 8th Shakespeare in the Park production by SRT) will take centrestage at Fort Canning. "The Tempest" is said to be Shakespeare's last play and one of two plays where the plot is entirely original.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Theatre Review: "Mies Julie" Brings The Heat With A Fiery Performance about Race and Gender

The relentless sense of sweat-inducing heat of the semi-desert region of Karoo in South Africa, was felt right from the start as the play "Mies Julie" kicked off at DBS Art Centre

On stage, which was set as a farmhouse during Freedom Day, the very capable actors of the South African State Theatre played out the intense, erotic and ultimately tragic tale about a young white mistress and her affair with her African black male servant, John.

The classic play about the battle about power and control by Swedish playwright August Strindberg had now been spiritually rebirthed in another time and space. This version makes all the swirling emotions of the story even more relevant and illuminating, as writer-director Yael Farber brings it very close to heart and home by setting it in South Africa, when apartheid ended a mere 20 years ago.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Shakespeare in the Park 2013: Director Bruce Guthrie Shares about the Staging of "Othello"

The historical Fort Canning Park, with its colonial buildings and landmarks, has always been a magical setting for a good Shakespearean play.

This year, the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) has continued its yearly tradition of producing Shakespeare in the Park. And this time, the chosen play is the dark, jealousy-fueled tragedy called "Othello".

With a cast consisting of British actor Daniel Francis as main protagonist Othello, and local-based thespians like Daniel Jenkins and Wendy Kweh, the updated version of the play kicked off its run on 24th April. Apparently, it has already been watched by an audience of over 25,000.

Red Dot Diva has already seen the play, and she cannot deny that the staging was indeed very grand and elaborate. But what she enjoyed most from the play was Daniel Jenkins' portrayal of Iago. The actor had given a wonderfully nuanced performance of a villain without a shred of remorse, which made him even more evil than she ever thought possible.

Director Bruce Guthrie returned to the Red Dot Island this year for the epic production of "Othello". He had also helmed the previous year's light-hearted romantic comedy "Twelfth Night" - which boasted of a gorgeous set that consisted of a beach, a mansion, a swimming pool and a visual projection of an ocean view.

Red Dot Diva got hold of Bruce Guthrie to share more about himself, and what went on behind the staging of "Othello".

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