Book Launch-cum-Forum Discussion

“Singapore Chinese Language Theatre: Engagement, Observation and Reflection”

Singapore River is Singapore Federation of Chinese Drama Associations' first production.
Photo provided by Han Lao Da

30 Nov 2013

2.30pm - 5.30pm

The Substation

Minister of State, Ms Sim Ann

Lee Peng Yi, Choo Woon Hock, Han Yong Hong and Nelson Chia

Peter Sau

In celebration of the launch of the book:
SCENES: A hundred Years of Singapore Chinese Language Theatre 1913 – 2013

Written by Dr Quah Sy Ren
Co-published by Drama Box and National Museum of Singapore

In 2010, as part of Drama Box's 20th anniversary celebrations, Drama Box co-presented SCENES: Singapore's Chinese Language Theatre with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.

SCENES was a celebration of the legacy of Singapore's Chinese language theatre, tracing its development from the 1920s. Curated by Kok Heng Leun and Dr Quah Sy Ren, one of the components was an exhibition that showcased important milestones in the history of Singapore's Chinese language theatre.

Since that momentous event, Drama Box and Dr Quah have continued with extensive research and writing, working with all the materials and documentations uncovered in the process, resulting in the publication of of "100 Years of Singapore Chinese Language Theatre 1913 - 2013".

One important finding of the research, which forms the basis of this book, is the discovery that "spoken drama", the founding stone of Singapore Chinese language contemporary theatre, was first produced in Singapore in Nov 1913, and not in 1919, as previously recorded.

With that discovery, it signifies the arrival of Singapore Chinese language contemporary theatre at its centennial this year (2013).

Admission is by invitation only. Please contact Drama Box at 6324 5434 if you would like to attend the event.

Presented by

Drama Box

Supported by

National Museum Singapore

About "SCENES: A hundred Years of Singapore Chinese Language Theatre 1913 – 2013"

Chinese language theatre in Singapore has gone through a century of ups and downs.

It was borne out of a mission to inspire public discourse and to aid disaster relief in the beginning of the 20th century, and developed in the post-war era of multivariate aesthetic and political currents. Singapore Chinese language theatre has played a part in the construction of national consciousness; it has concerned itself with the underclass, while constantly reinventing, reintegrating, and professionalising. It has rooted itself in the global environment while engaging in cross-boundary dialogues.

A century of Singapore Chinese language theatre has not only contributed to the painting of Singapore's cultural landscape, it is also closely associated with the turbulence in the world.

Beginning from modern drama's first emergence in 1913, SCENES: A Hundred Years of Singapore Chinese Language Theatre 1913 – 2013 traces the centennial history of Chinese language theatre in Singapore in the socio, cultural and political contexts. Through a survey of historical records accompanied by rare images, the book is a reflection on the cultural ethos and social development of the different periods.

About Quah Sy Ren

Sy Ren is an academic and playwright. He is Associate Professor at the Division of Chinese, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. His teaching and research interests are in literary and cultural studies, and theatre and performance. Sy Ren's academic publication includes a critically acclaimed monograph Gao Xingjian and Transcultural Chinese Theater and co-authored Keywords: Critical Terms for Chinese Literary Study. He is also co-author. Sy Ren is also general editor of The Complete Works by Kuo Pao Kun (10 volumes), editor of the Chinese version of Images at the Margins: Plays by Kuo Pao Kun, and co-editor of Scenes: An Anthology of Contemporary Singapore Chinese Language Plays. Plays written or co-written by Sy Ren include I am Queen, A Stranger at Home, Boner, Invisibility, The Assassin, the Medium and the Masseuse and Ample Blues.


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