7 Awesome Singapore Theatre Plays You Must Watch At Least Once

19 April 2016
<p>The Lady Of Soul & Her Ultimate 'S' Machine</p>

The Lady Of Soul & Her Ultimate 'S' Machine

Learn more about Singapore from the stage. 


I love going to the theatre and I equally love being able to witness how Singapore’s performing arts scene has been evolving over the years. 

Here are some of our top picks of Singapore plays you must catch if there is a restaging (or just read the script) to help you understand Singapore in a brand new light. 


1. Emily of Emerald Hill 

Possibly my favourite play to watch and read, it tells the story of Emily Gan, a Peranakan matriarch with the wits and charm to get to where she is now. You will inevitably form sense of connection with the character as she tells us her story and what it means to be a woman. Emily of Emerald Hill has been staged in many countries around the world and was even translated into French in 2015 and keep a look out for Emily the Musical next month!  

To read the script, get the book here


2. Cooling-Off Day 

Playwright Alfian Sa’at captured the watershed 2011 General Elections in this play by interviewing various Singaporeans on their thoughts about the historic elections. The result? An honest insight on what Singaporeans truly think about politics and the democratic process in Singapore

To read the script, get the book here


3. Off Centre 

How are the mentally ill seen in Singapore society? This play delves into the issue with its main characters, Vinod and Saloma, who suffer from severe depression and schizophrenia respectively. The theatre company faced some difficulties in staging the show in 1993 but the landmark play went on to become the first Singapore play to be used as literature text in schools

To read the script, get the book here


4. The Lady of Soul & Her Ultimate ‘S’ Machine 

A certain country (which may or may not start with an “S”) is in need of some soul to make it a livelier place. And the task lies in the hands of a civil servant who heads the Committee For The Creation Of A Vibrant Nation. This political satire had its own run-ins with the government over censorship issues and it remains as one of Singapore’s groundbreaking works in theatre.


5. The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole

A young man was told that his deceased father’s elaborately designed coffin could not fit the allocated burial plot. What is he to do now? This allegorical monologue subtly questions the bureaucracy and red tape that surround a big part of our life in Singapore.

Read more about the playwright Kuo Pao Kun’s detention without trial and how it affected his work here


6. Charged

A soldier who was serving his military duty was found dead and when questioned, all his colleagues had different versions of what happened that night. The play examines racial sensitivities in this multi-ethnic country and also gives a peek into the lives of the Singapore men who undergo National Service (NS). 

To read the script, get the book here.  


7. Fear of Writing

I just had to squeeze this in the list even though I can’t go into details about the plot without giving too much away. As much as it’s about a playwright who struggles with writer’s block, the play left me questioning about the slight fear I felt by the end of the show. 

I’m tempted to tell you not to read the script if you want to watch it someday but here’s how you can get the book. 


By Muneerah Bee, April 2016 

cover image: esplanade.com


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