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Beatrice Chia-Richmond: Actress to Creative Director of the SEA Games

Beatrice Chia-Richmond is often thought of as the pretty, lanky actress or the wife of DJ Mark Richmond – she shares her sentiments on her role of Creative Director of the upcoming SEA Games Ceremonies

Beatrice Chia-Richmond - Profile

Most of us know Beatrice Chia-Richmond, whether for being an actress, stage director or the wife of DJ Mark Richmond. Few know, however, the extent of her creative talent.

In her directorial debut, “Shopping and F**king”, Beatrice won the title of Best Director in the 2003 Life Theatre Awards. In 2011, Beatrice became the first female Creative Director of the National Day Parade, to much acclaim. Now, in 2015, she reprises her prestigious role for a much larger spectacle, for the regional 28th SEA Games held in Singapore.

Beatrice shares with Weekender her very personal thoughts on theatre as well as on her babies – the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 28th SEA Games.

Apart from the ceremonies of the 28th SEA Games, have you been involved in other projects recently?

I started work on the 28th SEA Games in October 2013. The ceremonies have turned out to be all-consuming and probably my most challenging project to date.

In April 2014, I directed Ah Boys to Men the Musical. That would have been my last project outside of the SEA Games ceremonies. From that double-hatting experience, I found it impossible to concentrate on any other projects while on the Ceremonies and hence decided not to take on anything else until the Games are over.

Some of the singers - used before in Issue 123
28th SEA Games singers with the mascot on stage

You’ve been in Singapore’s arts scene for many years. How do you think things have changed since you first started?

The arts scene in Singapore has always been exciting for me. But at different times, [for] different reasons.

When I first started, it was emerging from a “fringe-like” status. Artists were beginning to give up their full-time jobs as lawyers, teachers, executives… to be full-time artists. That was a truly exciting time.

These days, it is already an expectation that artists are full-time professionals. That allows us to take a committed attitude towards the arts.

What’s the play you first fell in love with?

The first play I watched was “M Butterfly”, written by David Henry Hwang. It was staged on the West End, starred Anthony Hopkins and our very own Glen Goei.

It was such an experience for me. I was 14 years old then. It changed my life! I had already wanted to be an actor and was discovering the theatre in the best way possible!

You’ve won a couple of awards and you’re well respected in theatre. What plans might you have for the stage in the not-too-distant future?

In the last five years, I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in massive-scale productions (i.e. the SEA Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies) and I have learnt so much!

There is a part of me that is actually yearning for a good old text-based play that will give me a chance to work closely with actors again!

Is there a play that you think is absolutely brilliant and you wish that you’d written?

My favourite play would still be “Bent” by Martin Sherman. As it is a play about the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust, I could never imagine myself being able to write it as the subject matter is too great on so many levels.

Also, I have no delusions about myself being a playwright. I can’t write!

Beatrice Chia-Richmond - NDP2011 with Haresh Sharma

You were the first female Creative Director of the National Day Parade, in 2011, and now you’ve taken on the role for the ceremonies of the 28th SEA Games. How did you get into creative work for major events?

I was fortunate enough to have been invited and appointed by the Organising Committees of NDP 2011 and the 28th SEA Games.

What unique aspects can attendees look forward to at the ceremonies this year?

The 28th SEA Games in Singapore will be a once-in-a-generation experience as it only comes round once every 22 years. That in itself should be reason enough for everyone to go get a ticket to support the Games, [the] show, [and the] athletes as they will really need the nation’s support behind them.

For the show, it will be the biggest spectacle in the National Stadium so far and there are so many reasons you have to catch it. We have a massive aerial system that allows us to fly performers and aerial props, gorgeous costumes, breath-taking multimedia, 5,000 performers… The list goes on.

I hear tickets are almost all sold out already.

If you were a getai or karaoke star, which song would be your anthem?

“Sugar” by Maroon 5, for no other reason except that it is a great song and it makes me happy!

How will you personally be celebrating SG50?

By being grateful that we have come this far.

What advice do you have for Singaporeans who’re interested in pursuing a career in the arts?

Only pursue a career in the arts because you love it and you cannot imagine life without it.

Interview by Lester J Wan

The 28th SEA Games will be held from Jun 5 to 16. Tickets to the Opening Ceremony are sold out but a limited amount of tickets to the Closing Ceremony is still available. Visit www.seagames2015.com to purchase or to follow the SEA Games.