The buzz generated by the Singapore Bicentennial 2019 has ignited curiosity and much re-evaluation about Singapore’s long and rich history. Yet what does (de)colonisation truly mean, and can we ever be free from its fetters? The Necessary Stage’s (TNS) ground-breaking and audacious new production, Civilised, challenges us to examine the complexities of colonialism and colonisation—not only of the past, but also its manifestations in our world today.
Haresh Sharma, TNS’ Resident Playwright, elaborates, “What stood out for me is the fact that we are living very ‘colonised’ lives, often without even knowing it.
Civilised, as with many TNS plays, providesmore questions than answers. But the journey for the audience will be riotous and fun.”
TNS’ Artistic Director Alvin Tan echoes Sharma’s sentiment on the work. “It will be an engaging, energy-filled and high-octane performance where the audience members have to play catch-up than sit passively consuming a predictable piece of theatre,” he enthuses.
As the 120th play written by Sharma in his career, Civilised is one for which research was exceptionally intense. Remarking on the “never-ending” deluge of research, he says, “When we think of colonisation, we usually talk about England, France and so on colonising countries in the past. But there’s so much more to it. What kind of ‘legacy’ does the coloniser leave behind? How does the newly independent country pick up the post-colonial pieces?”
Tan also shares about the importance of dismantling the term and concept of colonisation itself, “Every point can be challenged. Every belief can be torn apart. Nothing is precious and anything sacred can be transgressed,” he explains.
“Colonialism is not necessarily only about others imposing their political, economic and cultural thinking on us. It’s also about us having the faith and the substance to interact, dialogue, resist, exchange, spar with partner countries we engage with.”
Civilised features a star-studded cast comprising Edith Podesta, Ghafir Akbar, Koh Wan Ching, Lian Sutton and Siti Khalijah Zainal, as well as an exciting creative team with He Shuming (multimedia), Adrian Tan (lighting), Vincent Lim (set) and Max Tan and Yuan Zhiying of MAX.TAN (costumes), Civilised promises to be a provocative interrogation of colonial history as we know it, daring us all to scrutinise whether we have truly moved beyond the violence of colonisation.
Tickets for Civilised are now available from SISTIC. Performances will run from 15 to 26 May 2019 at The Necessary Stage Black Box.