PUBLISHED March 15th, 2013 12:43 am | UPDATED January 21st, 2016 07:42 am
The synopsis for The Bride Always Knocks Twice begins with an intriguing opening sentence: ‘8 women, 6 generations, 5 languages, 1 unsolved mystery…’ That is sure to arouse one’s curiosity. The synopsis continues to describe ‘A door that’s never locked. A mysterious location. Occupied by women from different generations and backgrounds – and their secrets. A runaway bride abruptly invades this space, kicking off a series of suspenseful moments, frolics, disputes and warmth.’
It does not give much away about this light-hearted black comedy by Theatre Practice, which opens on 22 March 2013.
The Theatre Practice, which was established in 1965 by Goh Lay Kuan and Kuo Pao Kun, is a month older than Singapore. Now in its 48th year, the theatre company has created its own niche in the local theatre scene. The Company has presented many productions over the years, in Mandarin and also in English. It has also been a pioneer in Arts Education, bringing countless workshops and performances into schools, and nurturing several generations of Singaporeans.
The play, The Bride Always Knocks Twice, was co-written by playwrights Jonathan Lim and Liu Xiaoyi and directed by Kuo Jian Hong.
Its cast comprises of local actors Mia Chee, Isabella Chiam, Hung Chit Wah Felix, Goh Guat Kian, Judy Ngo, Su Chun Ying, Karen Tan and Siti Khalijah Zainal
Director, Kuo Jian Hong was interviewed by City Nomads:
Why did Theatre Practice choose this play “The Bride Always Knocks Twice”?
We didn’t choose this play as a completed script; we basically approached the 2 playwrights to write the play with some initial ideas and perimeters in mind. I wanted to develop a play with an all-woman cast, about women in Singapore, but really, to tell the story of Singaporeans, not just women. Xiaoyi and Jonathan are two extremely different writers – in style as well as perspectives. Even though they are men, I didn’t think it would be a limitation, because the play is really about human beings, and women are our entry points into examining the larger topic of humanities.
Why is it called a “black comedy”?
Because the comedy is darker, and sometimes heavier. The intention is to address subjects that we sometimes discussed in more serious manners through laugher. After all the laughs, then you think about why the situation is funny, why you laughed…
What is your greatest challenge when directing this play? And what about the cast? What will be their greatest challenge?
First, as a new script, it’s almost like a new map to a city that we have never been to. So we follow this roadmap and sometimes we get lost, sometimes we misread the map, sometimes we can’t figure out where’s our destination, sometimes the map takes us to a dead-end street…basically, we have to test-drive the script and work with the writers to adjust and fine-tune the script. That’s always tedious and challenging.
Fortunately, this is a really wonderful cast to do that with. On one hand, they would take the leap of faith by diving into the materials, exploring the characters through the clues given by the script. On another hand, they are able to analyze and challenge the decisions made by the writers when things do not make sense for them as actors in this process. So we are lucky to have the best of both worlds from this bunch of artists.
The other really big challenge is to stop laughing during rehearsals and focus on getting the work done! Each of these ladies has their own brand of humor and quirkiness, and together, they are a crazy bunch. We have so much fun exploring this world and these characters together, and sometimes just laughing at each other! It hard to convince people that we actually work hard everyday….really!
The synopsis mentions “8 women, 6 generations, 5 languages, 1 unsolved mystery” – is there a danger of confusing the audience? What holds the play together (without giving too much away!)?
I don’t think people in Singapore are confused, I mean this diversity in languages is our world. That is who we are. In fact, it’s just the contrary – I think the audience will find this very familiar, very comfortable, and perhaps even a refreshing experience in the theatre since it is not often that we get to have our world represented this way on stage. The glue that holds that play together is really the crisis the Bride faces right from the beginning, and the journey to resolving that crisis. The only give-away I can offer is that she runs away from her wedding on the big day…
Why should people come and see this play? What will attract them to this production?
This is a funny, entertaining and very accessible play. Even with characters speaking in different languages, they will have no problem following the story. These are characters that we are familiar with, telling stories that we can connect with. This is our story. Laughter and fun aside, this is also a story that will make the audience think about the world we live in, the choices we make in our lives, and how we choose to live along one another as Singaporeans, as human beings.
Will the play be accessible to a non-Mandarin speaking audience? What about a non-Singaporean / expat audience?
Definitely. For one thing, even when we don’t understand every language we hear every day, we are still able to ‘understand’ what happens around us. And if you really want that safety net, there will be surtitles in both English and Mandarin at the theatre.