Currying favour with Glen

#40 Be Happier Glen Goei

Director Glen Goei celebrates our nation and local playwright Alfian Sa’at’s witty pieces on the Singaporean condition

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By Cheryl Chia

Singaporean veteran director Glen Goei takes on Alfian Sa’at’s In The Spotlight – featuring Cook A Pot of Curry, Dreamplay: Asian Boys Vol 1, and The Optic Triology – showcasing the best works of one of the nation’s brightest playwrights.

What can people expect from your version of Cook A Pot of Curry?

Something very local and sedap! Cook A Pot of Curry is verbatim theatre. A lot of people probably think that verbatim theatre is boring and full of exposition and talking heads, but it is not the case.

You can expect Curry to be really spicy, since we’ll be dealing head-on with the super-hot issues of immigration, citizenship and national identity. We want to ignite not just people’s taste buds, but also their imaginations.

Will foreigners appreciate the humour?

To gather material and inspiration for the play, Alfian spoke extensively to several foreign immigrants living in Singapore – including a few who have made their homes here longer than many younger Singaporeans have been alive!

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Cook a Pot of Curry isn’t meant to showcase just one point of view – we’re not being nationalistic or xenophobic. We want to get Singaporeans and foreigners alike to think about the issue. We’re all living here now, so how do we navigate these changes? How do we all fit together?

#40 Be Happier Glen Goei

What’s in the pipeline?

Every year, Ivan Heng and I co-direct the W!LD RICE Fundraising Ball, which is an exhausting but thrilling and elaborate affair. That’s coming up in October this year. I’m also currently casting for a Lorca play for our World Classics season for March next year.

You’ve been in the business a long time. Any memorable or funny moment on the job?

The most recent one was during The Importance of Being Earnest when Lim Kay Siu called his ‘girlfriend’, played by Hossan Leong, a different name and that made the entire cast corpse (laugh) on stage, including Ivan Heng (Lady Bracknell) who had to turn his entire body away from the audience in case they caught him laughing.

What would you like to say to all Singaporeans?

Support local theatre! It’s tough to be an artist pretty much anywhere in the world and we have our own particular challenges to deal with here in Singapore. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that a robust, flourishing theatre scene is essential to the lifeblood of any country.

The theatre, after all, is where ideas and conventions are more easily and readily challenged than in almost any other performing arts medium. We have to continue nurturing home-grown talent – to give artists the chance to speak, to act, to perform, and to tell (or show) us truths about ourselves.

What is your favourite type of curry?

I think you can never go wrong with a good, hot chicken curry – my mum’s Peranakan chicken curry is definitely my favourite!

Tickets to Alfian Sa’at – In The Spotlight are available from Sistic.

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