Theatre Talkback: I hope it works.

Theatre Talkback!

I just heard about this project called Theatre Talkback, so I thought I’d do my bit and help spread the word.

However, I thought I’d also do my bit and say something about it as well (as usual… LOL).


As someone who supports artistic development in Singapore, I’m quite supportive of efforts like these.

But as someone trained in both education and writing, I’m also worried this effort may not be as efficacious as it could be because of the following:

  1. A seeming lack of sustainability: Time is required for incubation and revision during the process of art creation.

    Hence, will the process be sustained after this session? If no, why have it in the first place? And why not spend the money/time/effort on something more sustainable?
  2. The lack of a filtering mechanism: Feedback will be provided by “the general public and…an acclaimed line up of panelist (sic) (consisting of a playwright, a director and an educator…)” to a target audience of “budding artists”.

    How will budding artists filter out information that is crucial and relevant to them from noise/irrelevant feedback?
  3. The probability of ineffective feedback: I have, on many occasions, asked myself – via an interior monologue – this question upon receiving feedback from a countless number of individuals, both useful and useless: “How is what you’re saying going to help my life or help me become a better teacher/writer?”

    Reason: a lot of the feedback tended to focus on one thing – what I was doing wrong.

    But any hmstrfckr can tell you what you’re doing wrong. It’s a great teacher, however, who can tell you what to do instead and how to do it, in order to be more effective.


To practice what I preach, I’m now going to work some of my LareMagic and suggest that:

  • The organisers should please, please adopt this feedback mechanism for the project:
    1. Tell the playwright what s/he is doing wrong;
    2. Tell the playwright what to do instead;
    3. Show the playwright what to do through an example.

      For example:

      • You’re narrating what’s going on to the audience. This reduces dramatic tension.
      • Show, don’t tell.
      • Instead of getting your character to say “I’m so angry with what you’ve just said!”, is it possible to ‘show’ it via the use of this stage direction e.g. CHARACTER slams his cup down on the table. Silence.
  • The organisers should please, please make it mandatory for every hmstrfckr who wants to provide feedback to adopt this feedback mechanism, otherwise her/his feedback will be ignored.

These two measures will solve problems (2) and (3) which I outlined above.

I can’t solve (1) but I hope some sort of workshopping will eventually take place over a prolonged period, much like TheatreWorks’s Writers’ Lab.


I expect some criticism about what I’ve just raised. That’s fair.

But let me work my LareMindReading LareMagic and pre-empt the criticism:

  1. This is too pedantic/structured.
    No – this is friggin’ education. You have to be pedantic and provide an order and a structure before creativity can flourish.

    But I say again – it must be a good order and structure that is derived soundly from theory and not something stated on a whim.
  2. But this is art! Art is supposed to be felt! How can you –

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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