Ten pieces from ten writers

Last in the Studios season at the Esplanade in Singapore is The Perfection of 10, directed by Sean Tobin, an Australian director who moved to Singapore in the early 90s and has worked in Singapore since, establishing himself as an important figure in the Singaporean theatre scene.

I managed to catch up with him during a busy rehearsal schedule to gain a first insight into what looks like an intriguing show, The Perfection of 10, which opens on Thursday 13 September and will run till Sunday 15 September.

Tobin tells me that this show is about perfection and making theatre, “what drives theatre makers to perfection. Why we are so obsessed about it.”

This was the subject presented to the ten writers who had only ten minutes to write a short piece in an initial workshop.

“It was important that the writers wrote instinctively under a first impulse,” says Tobin.

Since then under the guidance of Low Kee Hong, General Manager of Singapore Arts Festival and performer of international reputation, the writers have developed and re-written their scripts. It was, then, Tobin and Hong’s job to put them together without compromising the scripts’ own individuality.

Tobin admits that they cherished the differences in each script in style, tone and narrative; he was looking for ten unique voices, which is why he approached these different writers whose biographies show, indeed, an impressive range and a great pool of talent.

Desmond Sim has written more than thirty plays and has won many awards; Irfan Kasban and Zizi Azah, both members of Teater Ekamatra, an established Singapore theatre company that has produced over 100 plays in the last two years, are theatre makers in their own right; writer and performer Kaylene Tan is one of the founding members of performance company, spell#; Li Xie is a celebrated actress and director.

For more than 25 years, Verena Tay has acted, directed and written for local English-language theatre in Singapore and is about to publish her first collection of short stories; Ng Yi-Sheng is an eclectic figure: full-time writer of poetry, drama, non-fiction, fiction, slam etc. There is also an international presence with two of the writers living and working abroad: Jason Wee, visual artist and non-fiction writer based in New York, and Ng How Wee, now based in London, who has published many books of fiction in Singapore.