The arts scene in Singapore has been flourishing in the recent years. Apart from large scale events like Singapore Night Festival and myriad of art exhibitions, many world classics and broadway hits are staged on the island for a regional audience. The local theatre production has also made its presence felt in the recent years thanks to the support of venues like Substation and various museums. More Chinese, Malay and Tamil language theatre groups are getting in on the growing interest in local creations and experimental plays including Hatch Theatrics.
Established in 2012, Hatch aims to rediscover, reinvent and revitalize Singapore's contemporary Malay theatre by contributing to the social library of original theatre works produced by young, vibrant and passionate Malay theatre practitioners. Every member gets a chance to wear different hats including acting, directing, writing, stage management, production and marketing. Through the theatre medium, it also crafts and negotiates a voice for local youths.
Ring-A-Ring-O-Rosie / Photo by Mishaal and courtesy of Hatch Theatrics
The young collective debuted with a double-bill called 'Ruang' in 2012. In 2013, Hatch collaborated with Theatre Group Gumbo from Japan to present 'Ring-a-RIng O'Rosie' which toured Japan and Hong Kong before being staged in Singapore in 2014. It also presented a play called 'Di Manakah Kau Sorokkan Yusof Ishak?' in early 2014.
Even with 3 productions in its arsenal, operating a theatre company in Singapore is no stroll in the park. Kudos goes to The Substation for their support since day one. From rehearsal space to performance venues, this leading independent contemporary arts centre in Singapore has always been supportive and accommodating. Other theatre companies such as Cake Theatrical Productions, Teater Ekamatra and The Necessary Stage have also supported the young theatre company in terms of loaning their props, leasing rehearsal space and even manpower. The National Arts Council and Arts Fund have funded Hatch's projects.
I spoke with Hatch's Artistic Director Faizal Abdullah and Play Director Raimi Liandy Safari on the eve of their third production entitled 'Lockdown' at the Substation.
Lionel: What was the inspiration for starting Hatch Theatrics?
Faizal Abdullah: Hatch started as incubation platform. It was meant to be an avenue for young Malay theatre practitioners to experiment and create new works. As most of the members are primarily actors, Hatch was also meant to be an opportunity for them to take on new roles and learn new skills. And the members will be mentored by leading artists from the theatre industry.
Lionel: Any challenges in gathering an audience in Singapore?
Faizal Abdullah: In addition to getting enough funding to stage the shows, another difficulty is getting people to come watch our shows. And as Hatch is still a young collective, we're still building our name and audience base. But I'm sure with time, people will recognise the Hatch brand and we will have an audience that will look forward to our shows.
Lionel: What's the difference between Hatch's and other local theatre companies?
Faizal Abdullah: I'm not really sure of the difference but I always believe that just because we are a small collective with little funding, that does not give us an excuse to put up cheap shows. We always employ good professional actors, professional designers and production people to ensure that we put up quality shows.
Lionel. What is the inspiration behind Hatch's latest production?
Raimi Safari: It's funny how this inspiration came about. I was invigilating a school examination and making my way up and down the rows of students. Suddenly the idea struck me. What if we're all suddenly stuck here in this room? How am I supposed to handle 40 possibly frantic, panic-stricken kids all at once? Morbid idea I know, but perhaps I too was under the exam stress.
Lionel. What did you enjoy most in making the play?
Raimi Safari: I particularly enjoyed working with my actors as well as my mentor, Aidli Mosbit for this show. I'm blessed to have been granted such a supportive cast that made the process a lot easier for me, given the fact that I'm a first time director. My mentor has always been wonderful and full of encouragement throughout the process for me as a writer and a director, and I have nothing but love for her.
Lockdown / Photo by Mishaal and courtesy of Hatch Theatrics
Lionel: What do you want the audience to experience?
Raimi Safari: I think more than anything else, I want the audience to understand the pressure that comes along with being in the System. Burning out for educators is a term easily tossed around in the service and LOCKDOWN wants to push it even further. It's not just a matter of burning out, it's about not losing yourself. Come on down, grab your tickets and booklet and enjoy the show!
Hatch Theatrics' 'Lockdown' will be playing at Substation on 28 and 29 November It features members including Nur Khairiyah Ramli, Muhammad Jon-Jon Zahari, Siti Zuraida and Raimi Liandy safari. Click here for show and booking details.