What’s the worst thing you can do to a man?
It’s not to fight him; to break him; to defeat him – we expect that.
“Hail Caesar; those who are about to die salute you!”
It’s to see him as other than he is: as a man with a heart when he only has a body; as a man with only a body when all that he is is a heart – contracting and expanding, year upon year.
To see him as noble when he is base; to see him as false when he is true.
— Huzir Sulaiman, The Weight of Silk on Skin.
Tag - checkpoint
There was a feature on Checkpoint Theatre, Huzir Sulaiman and Claire Wong in yesterday’s Straits Times Life! section – and I managed to get three paragraphs – three! – all to myself!
Unfortunately, I can’t post the entire article because of The Straits Times‘s overly-strict regulations so here’s the snippet about me from the article:
Another Checkpoint protege, Lee, who was also a teacher, quit his job to be a full-time writer. He says that “Claire and Huzir have been great mentors to me”. Lee, who wrote Full Tank and Radio Silence, two plays about national service, started working at Checkpoint from 2010 on a voluntary basis because he wanted to contribute to the company and learn about the arts industry.
After helping out with Occupation, he hopes to scale back on his Checkpoint activities to focus on writing. He is working on three projects: a novel about his mixed heritage family called Crossroads; a book of poetry called The Zookeeper’s Boy And Other Poems; and a full-length play called Sons And Daughters, exploring what would happen if Singapore had a chance to rebuild itself from scratch.
With a laugh, Huzir says he “can’t claim any credit or blame for Laremy’s decision”. “I’m happy for him. He’s a phenomenally talented writer and I’m very happy that he’s doing writing full-time.”
If you wanna squint your way through the article, here it is:
The email interview which I had with Adeline Chia:
Huzir mentioned that you will quit your job to be a full-time writer soon. Will you also be an associate producer for Checkpoint after this? Is it a full-time job with a salary or are you volunteering your services?
Yes, I’ve resigned from my teaching job to be a full-time writer.
I was a teacher for four years. I’ve really enjoyed teaching as it’s been a rewarding experience and I will miss interacting with my students.
However, I felt that I should explore my passion and try out writing as a career now since I’m free from major financial commitments like car and housing loans.
I’ve been helping at Checkpoint Theatre in a voluntary capacity since Jan 2010 as Claire and Huzir have been great mentors to me and I felt that I wanted to contribute to the development of theatre in Singapore.
But after Occupation, I’ll scale back my involvement at Checkpoint and focus exclusively on writing until early next year. I’ve not decided on my plans after that but I hope to remain in the arts industry.
How did you get involved with Checkpoint Theatre? What made you want to join them?
It was a natural progression; something that happened quite organically. Huzir taught me playwriting at the National University of Singapore and I got to know Claire through Huzir after watching Cogito back in 2007.
I was impressed with and inspired by the work that the both of them had done and were doing
Huzir, Claire and I hung out from time to time – sometimes it’d be at Claire and Huzir’s home, during play readings that Huzir organised for the playwriting classes he was teaching. Other times, we’d meet for meals or coffee to chat about life and to catch up.
It was over these sessions that we discussed ideas and possibilities for the future.
At the end of 2009, I asked if it were possible for me to join Checkpoint Theatre in a voluntary capacity as I wanted to contribute to the company they had founded (seeing the good work they were both doing) and also learn about the arts industry at the same time.
They agreed and I officially joined Checkpoint Theatre in Jan 2010.
What are your plans now? I know you have outlined them here. What sorts of creative writing will you be concentrating on?
My last day as a teacher will be on 9 Sep. I’ve really enjoyed teaching as it’s been a rewarding experience and I will miss interacting with my students.
After I leave the teaching service, I’ll write full-time for at least six months.
I don’t have any other scheduled commitments besides being the dramaturg for the National University of Singapore Drama Fest 2012 (which I agreed to do earlier in the year).
I want to write for six months, partly so that I have a ‘target’ to meet and also to allow myself to evaluate whether a career as a writer is suitable for me.
I have several projects in mind and I hope to accomplish all of them. They include:
- Exploring the writing of a novel about my family, hopefully with a grant from the National Arts Council’s Arts Creation Fund. The working title for this novel is Crossroads; it will be a fictionalised recount about my family and my life as a Singaporean of mixed heritage.
- Finishing a manuscript of poetry for submission to a publisher. The working title for this poetry collection is The Zookeeper’s Boy and other poems and will contain poems I’ve written from 2009 until the present. I currently have 14 poems, including the eponymous poem, which is about teaching. I aim to have 30 poems in the collection – 30 because I’ll be 30 next year!
- Writing a draft of a full-length play that will be ready for the stage either next year or the year after. The working title for this play is Sons and Daughters after a song by The Decemberists and will ask questions about what would happen if we had the chance to rebuild Singapore from scratch.
Exciting times ahead for all of us and I’m looking forward to it!
BTW I realised I said the same thing about what I wanted to work on four years ago – I’ve actually been waiting for four years to do this because I had to serve my dues and I didn’t want to shirk that responsibility.
Last but not least, very important links which you MUST click on:
- Occupation – please watch it.
- Voices Clear and True: New Singapore Plays Volume 1 – please buy it.
- Checkpoint Theatre’s Facebook page – please like it.
- Checkpoint Theatre’s Twitter – please follow.
If you’ve seen me looking tense and tired, it’s because we’ve been working on this since last November, alongside our other commitments.
I’m proud of this – what started out as a module five years ago turned into a reading (which led to bigger and better things), culminating in a published book of plays.
Details of the launch here in case you’d like to go.