Book in at your own time

NOTE: I am posting this story here for future reference. It was originally published on the ChannelNewsAsia website at this link.

Many thanks go to The WayBack Machine for archiving a copy of the webpage here.

Book in at your own time
By Serene Ong, | Posted: 20 June 2009 0114 hrs

SINGAPORE: How many productions can boast a 100 per cent sell-out run these days? I know of one and it’s reprising its wildly successful staging in July with a new and improved version.

W!ld Rice’s Own Time Own Target (OTOT) was presented as a triple bill during last year’s OCBC Singapore Theatre Festival.

Heartened by the massive response to the National Service themed comedy-musical, the team behind the production is tightening up scripts, adding more scenes and fleshing out characters for this year’s double bill – Laremy Lee’s “Full Tank” and Julian Wong’s “Botak Boys”.

In fact, the musical “Botak Boys” is actually undergoing its third revision. It was first performed as “Singapore Boys” in the Five Foot Broadway Mini Musicals in June last year and caught the attention of local audiences.

Asked why the army genre seems to be a perennial favourite among Singaporeans, director Jonathan Lim, 35, said: “A lot of it is familiarity – you always feel warmer towards a theatre piece when it deals with something that you know… the connection is there.

“These are plays that are important to us because they really do capture something which is under-written in Singapore. No one talks about it half as much as they should, considering that practically everyone has to deal with NS, either by going through it or by having to lose family members or friends to it.

“The good thing about OTOT is that it looks straight into the Singaporean heart. It’s not just about army, there are so many characters in it – journalists, shopkeepers, uncles in the street… just faces in Singapore.”

And with the recent developments on the homeground, such as the overdue arrest of Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat Kastari in Malaysia, those who caught “Full Tank” the first time round can certainly expect some hefty reworking of script by playwright Lee.

“There’s a lot of contextual relevance now. We’re lucky that the news (about Mas Selamat) came out the way it came out, at this time – there’s definitely more material to update!” the talented 26-year-old quipped.

Despite the lightheartedness of it all, the production touches on some serious topics and hopes to evoke discussion and critical thinking.

“In ‘Full Tank’, we discuss issues like bureaucracy and civil service – anyone can relate to that. Gender doesn’t play a part and the military theme is just a vehicle,” said Lee. “Theatre provides people with a space to talk about issues that SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) is not willing to talk about in the open.”

Lim added: “When we talked to MINDEF before the festival last year, one of the things they were quite keen about is that these plays would help to open up discussion, which may eventually lead to more suggestions, more changes.”

“All of us want to see a better system,” Lee qualified. “It’s not to criticise; it’s just that this is also something that belongs to us and we want to talk about it too.”

Catch Own Time Own Target at the Drama Centre Theatre, from July 8 to 25. Tickets are available at SISTIC.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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