Ever thought of a second career in theatre but not a clue how? Goh Boon Teck has some answers. He’s currently the chief artistic director at Toy Factory Productions and mentor for The Wright Stuff, a current programme tailor-made for aspiring local playwrights.
How were the four playwrights picked for The Wright Stuff?
We conducted an open call for scripts, followed by interviews with the playwrights to understand their thought processes, what they wished to achieve, and their willingness to develop their work. They are all very receptive, willing to explore and collaborate with others.
Why should people watch The Wright Stuff?
Because we are giving a stage to local playwrights and local voices to help create a space for their creative dreams to take off.
What do you want the audience to take back from the different plays?
I want them to stop and listen to these young voices, listen to what they are saying and start a conversation with them. Most importantly, to help the young dream, and work together to make that dream a reality.
When crafting a play, how do you find your voice?
Writing from the heart, and making sure your work has a soul and sincerity. Do not be afraid to push yourself to uncharted territories, because the best stories are out there.
Tell me about one play you wrote that you’re most proud of and why.I really like The Eastern Line On My Palm. It is about a Singaporean woman who has an awakening and discovery of herself, and she journeys through India. It is steeped in discovery, tradition and mythology. I enjoyed relating the Indian culture to a Singaporean story.
What do you do to seek inspiration?
From the people and things around me. Travels and stories from around the world. There are narratives waiting to be discovered everywhere, we just need to stop and pay attention. One of my favourite playwrights includes Caryl Churchill. I like the absurdity of her writing, how it is imaginative, creative and mind-blowing at times. It is an absolute delight to read. She rearranges the present in a way that is out of this world. You should read Cloud 9. It is one of my favourites.
When you want to please an audience, can finding your own voice be a hindrance?Do not write to please others, but do honour what you believe in, and trust that your words will make a difference. When you write in a sincere manner, the audience response and reaction will come eventually. People will find the relevance and connection themselves.
What are some of the common beginner mistakes?
One, wanting to write about everything all at once. Try to focus on the story that you really want to tell, and tell it well. Two, forgetting to have human emotions and connections in your stories.
I wouldn’t really call it a mistake, but I did write a play in the past that heavily relied on visual images, instead of human stories. It was called OSEAN, a fictional story on the tradition and history about four gods of the east, west, north and south seas. But it was too heavily invested in visuals that it may have compromised its human connection.
Stage directions are often overlooked or underwritten. Why are they so crucial?
Stage directions give a visible space to the written word, a life to the words, giving it a recognisable form, translating words into an experience that people can appreciate. It is also a game of theatre, when different directors interpret the directions differently. From these different interpretations, there will be different treatments by different directors. It is what makes theatre so entertaining.
What else should we know about becoming a playwright?
Write from the heart. Be honest and it will show in your story.
You can still check out The Wright Stuff. Tickets are going at $20 each. Get them here