Interview: Past Caring


By: Ho Chenling

ArtZine checks in with the directors and cast of Past Caring – a collaborative play between The Necessary Stage and the Tony Yap Company from Australia.

Past Caring is inspired by a poem written by Australian writer Henry Lawson. After much discussion between TNS and TYC, the two decided to venture into a tale of adoption, family and desertion.

What is the future of hurt? Can we care after the hurt? Is there life after apology?

Alvin: All three of us (Tony Yap, Haresh Sharma and Alvin Tan) were present at the initial discussion. Added to the three were Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey (two sonic artists) and Kim Lawler (videographer).

Tony: Initial working title was ‘Dislocation’, Past Caring came about after the second creative development process in Melbourne which included the full cast.

Haresh: In an earlier phase of the project, we discussed issues such as adoption, migration and racism. Based on these discussions and on my own research, I came up with three episodes. The first is set in World War II, the second in the present and the final one in the 1970s in Australia. In each of the episodes the actors play different characters – for example, an Indian mother with her adopted Chinese daughter, cast away because she is a Dragon child; the chance encounter between two flight attendants of ‘rival’ airlines; the friendship and eventual relationship between a Singaporean Malay student and an aboriginal student at University.

So there are a lot of very personal stories told within the context of Singapore and Australia’s histories.

Audiences can look forward to a combination of The Necessary Stage’s “two trajectories of realism (Fundamentally Happy and Good People) and interdisciplinary theatre (Godeatgod and Frozen Angels) furthering our intercultural project where contemporary theatre is concerned,” explains Alvin.

“Hopefully the audience goes away thinking deeply of their responses to the way the themes are presented in the work such as adoption, displacement, family, land and physical and personal journeys. If they compare notes with others in the audience, we hope there may be varied responses to the work.”

Alvin: Past Caring has opened us to the themes of time, journey and imagined possibilities. We are traveling strangers or foreigners when we juxtapose our past, present and future selves in performance.

Tony: Most of my past works had a strong focus in the movement arts – dance, physical theatre. In this work I hope to add a visceral poignancy through the poetic language of movements. The audience may find an additional non-literal meaning.

What were some of the challenges you faced while preparing for the production?

Alvin: Along the way, different funding and grant structures and schemes provided challenges to our collaboration. If we knew of the challenges from the start, our collaborative process might not have taken flight. Looking back, I’m glad we were oblivious to these challenges when we began this journey. As such, our innocence and determination of wanting to work together transcended pragmatic concerns.

Tony: Challenges are in the areas of the multi-disciplines. How to make a tapestry without compromising the artistic strength of any one artistic disciplines.

Past Caring
Director: Alvin Tan (Singapore)
Playwright: Haresh Sharma (Singapore)
Choreographer/Performer: Tony Yap (Australia)

PERFORMERS   (Read our interview with the cast here!)
Glynis Angell (Australia)
Siti Khalijah (Singapore)
Leroy Parsons (Australia)
Sukania Venugopal (Malaysia)

25 – 28 February, 8 PM
28 – 29 February, 3 PM
5 – 7 March 2009, 8 PM
7 – 8 March 2009, 3 PM

The Necessary Stage Black Box
TICKETS available from SISTIC.
$27 | $22*

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