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S R Nathan’s love for the theatre and the support that he gave

By Ivan Heng

I shall always remember Mr S R Nathan with great fondness and admiration. We worked with him under the auspices of The President's Challenge to raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate, and he graced the Rice Ball on many occasions as Guest of Honour.

Apart from the myriad causes he championed, he loved the theatre. When we first started Wild Rice, he invited myself, Tony and Glen to tea at the Istana to find out more about our plans for Wild Rice and the state of the Arts. I remember having a philosophical discussion about Herman Hesse's Siddhartha. And reflecting on censorship and the bureaucracy, he just shrugged it off and encouraged us to press on. He truly saw value in the theatre's power to bring Singaporeans together.

Together with his dearest wife and family, Mr Nathan attended almost every Wild Rice pantomime. He came in his private capacity, eschewing pomp and ceremony. It was wonderful watching the show with him, laughing with audiences - looking over to me with a wink at our political satire and innuendo. Mr Nathan always made it a point to stay back after the show to thank the cast and crew. He had a warm handshake and kind words to say to everyone. And a true gentlemen that he was, there was always a handwritten note that followed.

Thank you very much, Mr Nathan for your lifetime of commitment to Singapore; and for your friendship, belief and support. On behalf of all at Wild Rice and our audiences, we send our deepest condolences to Mrs Nathan and your loved ones at this sad time. Rest in peace and may flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.

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Ivan Heng is the artistic director of W!LD RICE. This was first published on Ivan Heng's Facebook page and reproduced with permission.