22-24 January 2016, City Hall Chamber, National Gallery Singapore, 27 November - 6 December 2015, Installation, Opening Festival, National Gallery Singapore, 2 August 2015, Roving Performance, Istana, Singapore, March 2008, Nanyang Playhouse, National Institute of Education, Singapore, August 2008, Singapore Theatre Festival, Drama Centre, Singapore (Presented with Utama – Every Name in History is I by Ho Tzu Nyen & Four Malay Stories by Ming Wong), April 2006, Indonesian Dance Festival, Gedung Kesenian, Jakarta, Indonesia, December 2005, Bangkok Fringe Festival, November 2005, Installation, Opening of Drama Centre
“Fireworks in a black box… One felt enriched to have attended it.” - Life! The Straits Times
“To me, both play and painting show that we have come so far in our journey as a nation that we have forgotten where we came from.” - The Straits Times
National Language Class is inspired by Chua Mia Tee’s iconic 1959 painting of a group of Chinese students learning Malay. Interactive and inventive, the performance begins by recreating the scene shown in the painting. Gradually, it turns its focus to the bigger political picture the painting was a part of, and to the gap between the future it envisaged, and the one that took its place. In Malay, Mandarin and English, the audience participates in an event that shifts from the humorous to the menacing, the tender to the explosive. Together, they join with the performers to ask: What is the relationship between who you are and the language you speak? And what does it mean to take a new language as your own - or to give yours away?
Since 2005, the performance has taken on various forms: as an installation, roving performance and stage and site specific performances. The evolution of the performance is documented on the National Language Class website, which includes videos of the 2016 and 2008 performances, interviews and essays.
Cast: Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Tan Wan Sze, Director: Paul Rae, Production Manager/Assistant Director: Claire Devine, Lighting Design: Petrina Dawn Tan, Set Design: Kate Pocklington, Stage Manager:Rebecca Lee, Assistant Production Manager: Kaylene Tan, Researcher:Ella Parry-Davies, Photos: Bernie Ng
Interactive Installation (2015)
Cast: Adib Kosnan, Tan Wan Sze, Director and script: Paul Rae. Assistant Director and Production Manager: Claire Devine, Set Designer: Kate Pocklington, Stage Manager: Sahirra Saffit, Production Assistant: Rebecca Lee, Graphic Design: Jean Low
Roving Performance (2015)
Director: Claire Devine, Actors: Adib Kosnan, Tan Wan Sze, April Kong, KayKay Nizam, Yan Ying Sim, Zhein Mu'adhib, Stage Manager: Sahirrah Safit
Cast: Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Yeo Yann Yann, Director: Paul Rae, Lighting Design: Yeo Hon Beng, Costumes:Umi Kalsthom, Chalk Illustration:Mohd Fared Jainal, Stage Manager:Alvin Lim
Cast: Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Yeo Yann Yann, Director: Paul Rae, Photos:Yuen Chee Wai
Cast: Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Lam Yi-Shan, Director: Paul Rae
Concept and Design: Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Director: Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Performers: Mohd Fared Jainal, Kaylene Tan, Costumes: Umi Kalsthom
31 May & 1 June 2013, Esplanade Theatre Studio, part of The Studios
What does it mean to be on stage with your grandma? Perform with your sister or dance with your child? In Family Duet, a multi-generational cast presents an off-beat mix of life experiences and perspectives of the world.
Reflecting spell#7's intimate and inventive approach to theatre-making, Family Duet highlights the questions that family living answers but rarely asks: What is it to live together? How did I get these eyes? Are we ever too young to fail, or too old to disappoint? Where are the emergency noodles?
Three generations aged 6 to 66 mix conversation, media and dancing toys in scenes that probe the passage of time, the meaning of responsibility and how people overlap. The result is a family autobiography that audiences of all ages will find instantly recognisable, and totally unique.
Family Duet was documented as part of Tan Ngiap Heng and LaSalle College of the Arts' performance archive. Photos, interviews can be found here.
Cast: Fiona Rae, Lola Rae, Paul Rae, Summer Rae, Eleanor Song, Kaylene Tan, Music: Zai Kuning, Lights: Low Kee Hong, Floor design: Ling Hao, Stage Manager: Liu Yonghui, Asst Stage Manager: Teo Xuan Xuan, Photos: Tan Ngiap Heng
September 2007, Guinness Theatre, The Substation, 7-9 August 2008, Drama Centre Black Box, part of W!ld Rice's Singapore Theatre Festival together with Ho Tzu Nyen's House of Memory, 1 March 2009, University Cultural Centre, part of NUS Arts Festival: Arts & Environment, 16-22 August 2009, New Town Theatre, George Street, Edinburgh, part of the Singapore Showcase at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
"Paul Rae and Kaylene Tan - with pianist Shane Thio playing works by Toru Takemitsu - conjure up a truly profound, far-reaching reverie on how trees are rooted into the fabric of our imagination as well as into our eco-system." - The Herald, Scotland
“This is a show that eludes you, that charms you but does not seduce you, that stirs you and awakens you to a new level of consciousness while never quite binding you in the same spell, that speaks softly and is radical without being radical at all.” - Flying Inkpot (2007)
"At the core of Tree Duet is a meditative journey narrated by a wistful Paul Rae about the simple pleasures of living - remembering, contemplating, even something as basic as drinking - and what we stand to lose if we don't stop ourselves from being caught up in consumerism and convenience, and don't take the time to just breathe and reflect on our time in the world once in a while. Exquisitely crafted and sublime in its graceful simplicity and intricate beauty..." - The Flying Inkpot (2008)
A wry meditation on our continuing entanglement with trees. Interweaving stories from colonial history and the modern Asian city with simple effects and actions, spell#7 create a delicate theatrical ecology of ideas and images: eco-performance minus moralizing.
Read the programme note by C.J. Wan Ling Wee, The Expediency of History and the Management of Naturehere.
Written and performed by Paul Rae and Kaylene Tan, Additional text: Kaylene Tan, Pianist: Shane Thio, Lighting: Andy Lim, Photos: Yuen Chee Wai
Rae, Paul. ‘Tree Duet’, in Ute Ritschel and Ina-Maria Gerverus (eds.), Aesthetics and Anthropology: Performing Life - Performed Lives (Berlin and London: LIT Verlag, 2009), pp. 8-25.
Davis, Lucy. ‘In the Company of Trees’, Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture 17 (Summer 2011): pp. 43-62.
Epic Poem of Malaya
22-24 April 2010, Esplanade Studio Theatre as part of The Studios
" ... offers a completely outsider perspective on this notion of nationhood by looking at the world from the eyes of the often ridiculed or ignored orang laut (sea gypsies). The result is a complete re-mapping of one’s perception of Singapore history... it’s one of those shows that, after having stepped out, made me feel like the world seemed a bit bigger." - Today
"My father cries, and I cry, and then he says to me: Our life has just begun, and it will be a great one."
Combining traditional storytelling with theatrical experiment, Epic Poem of Malaya presents a kaleidoscopic vision of a society in flux. In a constantly shifting stage environment, a multi-generational cast unfolds an expansive, big-hearted story of Singapore seen from the sea.
A boy leaves Singapore for life on the South China Sea. He loves it, but history has other ideas. In a 1956 painting by the artist Chua Mia Tee, a passionate young man is declaiming a vision of the future; and there isn’t much room in it for sea nomads.
Then there’s you. Somewhere in your experience, whether you know it or not, you carry the hopes of an earlier time, a dream of freedom, and a map of the Riau Archipelago.
Epic Poem of Malaya is the story of an island, but it is also a story about people: how they remember, what they forget, and how they shape and are shaped in turn by the place they live.
Text & Music: Zai Kuning, Director: Paul Rae, Performed by: Janice Koh, K. Rajagopal, Siti Khalijah, Kaylene Tan, Tony Yeow, Production and Stage Manager: Alvin Lim, Lighting Designer: Woan Wen, Set/Props: Patrick Storey, Publicity Photos: Alecia Neo
Ghostwalking (2010) is a series of audio-video walks.
It takes the form of a download, which people will listen to or watch while on the train or exploring neighbourhoods off the North East Line (NEL).
Stories and memories are played out at the different locations. At a life’s end, what does one remember? A love, a heartbreak, a loss… perhaps a moment is replayed, over and over again. The narrator, Tony is haunted, or is he haunting these places?
He tells stories, lies, attempts to make sense of his life once lived or invent one he’s dreamed about. During the journey, past and future intermix, jump cutting the listener from love and innocence in the 60s to futuristic Punggol in 2021, from climbing up Pearl’s Hill in the heady 70s to a domestic scene of trauma during the war.
The effect of the walks is cumulative. All the little and big things that add up to a life. Do they mean anything? Does your life mean a thing?
Concept: Kaylene Tan, Text: Ben Slater, Kaylene Tan, Sound/Music: Evan Tan, Voices: Brendon Fernandez, Lim Kay Siu, Glory Ngim, Oon Shu An, Kaylene Tan, Tony Yeow, Video: Sherman Ong
Another incarnation of the project was presented at the Architecture Section of the PQ Prague Quadrenial of Performance Design and Space in 2011. The exhibit, Ghostwalking: Take Possession made in collaboration with architect, Ling Hao looked at the city as a performance space included sound, video and an interactive table.
Sherman Ong went on to present the three videos as part of Motherland, a project that deals with the migration. Watch the videos here (Xiao Jing) and here (Jesman)
8-12 June 2009. Made in collaboration with Bodies in Flight for the Singapore Arts Festival, 7-22 May 2010. Presented at Mayfest, Bristol, UK.
"... coherent and grounded, and its three performers were recognisable extensions of the Singapore landscape." - The Flying Inkpot
"... the pieces were magical. The players created transcendental moments in the midst of an everyday landscape: fragments of songs in the stairwells and Chinese opera movements on the steps of banks, the music of a pen tapping the railings of an overpass." - Life! The Straits Times
From dreamtime to realtime: a two-part work exploring our daily journey from the private to the public and back again.
Every working day millions of us get up still half asleep, look in the bathroom mirror and start the daily task of putting on a public face. This is Dream-Work. Then, as we clock off for the day, we slough off our workselves and fleetingly entertain other options. Our destination is Dream-Home.
Dream-Work and Dream-Home are two walking performances that take the form of journeys to and from a job in the city. Following performer-commuters during the a.m. and p.m. rush hours, audience members listen in on personal receivers to the sounds, speech and songs that make up a life in the morning; and that unmake it again, as night draws in.
Text: Simon Jones, Choreography: Sara Giddens, Performer: Polly Frame, Sound: Sam Halmarack, Sound Artist: Duncan Speakman
Text: Paul Rae and Kaylene Tan, Choreography: Sara Giddens, Performers: Anjana Srivasen, K Rajagopal, Tony Yeow, Sound: Evan Tan
spell#7 reworked Dream-Home for Mayfest (2010) in Bristol, UK.
Cast: Janice Koh, Paul Rae, Director & Co-writer: Paul Rae, Co-writer: Kaylene Tan. Singer: Anjana Srinivasan, Music and soundscore: Song-Ming Ang
22-23 April 2005, Esplanade Studio Theatre as part of The Studios
"sweet and engaging... stylish, quirky, enigmatic." - Life! The Straits Times
"Each vignette was a thing of beauty - uncluttered and simple and usually garnished with an interesting visual trick... these characters were facets of us in the audience. And for me, the power of the production was in its sincerity in trying to capture in little snapshots the truth of how love - so ordinary, so real, so beautiful - can exist." - The Flying Inkpot
A series of short, sharp duologues written and performed by Kaylene Tan and Paul Rae. Duets explores life and love to the power of two.
Interspersed with the sounds and stories of some of pop's most enduring duets, 10 vignettes chart the ups and downs of two people making a life together when they are supposed to be making a living. From the mundane to the magical, the frumpy to the funky, stories and told, music is played, and the sly work of love does its thing
Devised and performed by Paul Rae and Kaylene Tan, Music: Zai Kuning, Lighting: Ken Ikeda, Photos: Yuen Chee Wai
Presented as part of the Singapore Biennale 2008: Wonder
Sky Duet is an audio companion designed for and inspired by the Singapore Flyer. Listeners access the work on the Singapore Flyer through headphones and an mp3 player, as they embark on a thirty-minute journey into the sky and back.
The Flyer is a dreamcatcher, spinning wheel, Jacob’s ladder, a giant radar tuning in on peoples’ thoughts and conversations about death, clouds, city lights…and all the small wonders that make up a life. The listener hears voices that move in and out of sync with their own thoughts: sometimes coinciding, sometimes dissenting, always wondering.
Unlike the other audio works that we have created, this one does not involve walking and interacting with the environment, the streets or objects in a gallery. Held “captive” in the enclosed space of The Singapore Flyer capsule, it is the listener’s view that moves, changing in scale and scope, peaking in the orderliness of the urban planner’s top-down perspective and the timeless human dream of flight, before curving back down to earth.
Text: Paul Rae, Kaylene Tan, Sound/ Music: Evan Tan, Voices: Esther Leong, Rodney Olivero, Kaylene Tan, Tony Yeow
5-7 September 2002, The Substation
"...plain weird." - The Flying Inkpot
There are various gangsters in this world. All of a sudden, we find ourselves amongst them.
Devised by the company, Director: Paul Rae, Cast: Enlai Chua, Noorlinah Mohamad, Ben Slater, Kaylene Tan, Costumes: Ruth Stroude, Photos: Tan Ngiap Heng
Available throughout 2005-2010 from 65 Kerbau Road.
"... an experience that offers not so much the promises of tourist brochures but allows you to enjoy an alternative account of Singapore; contemplating its lower-tech, slower paced possibilities via a sensitive and far-ranging piece of work." - RealTime Australia
Listen to the sounds, the stories, the noise, the whispers, the secrets, follow the orders, get lost, be found, investigate further, check the map, drink some water, keep your eyes peeled...Two narrators compete for your attention: ghosts or lovers, they have gone down this route many times before and this time they implore you to follow.
Along the way there is plenty to see, nothing to lose and much to discover.
Plunge yourself into a rich cinematic imaginary world suggested by sounds, music and voices as you traverse the streets around Serangoon Road.
The journey begins and ends outside 65 Kerbau Road.
Devised, written and performed by Ben Slater and Kaylene Tan Sound Design: Evan Tan
8-11 January, 15-16 January 2002, 65 Kerbau Road
"The audience is brought in, and an hour and a quarter later sent away, now wondering whether there is more to our world than we'd previously thought. There might not be a 'plot' as such but the universe created in this production is utterly complete and believable." - The Flying Inkpot
Two beautiful losers scour the city for the relics of faith. As they bear witness to the heaven held in these everyday things, they deliver up lessons on impotence, the afterlife and other modern headaches. Not only do they share their prophecies and revelations with us, but also their take-outs and tidbits. During one of these lessons something bad happens and all hell is let loose. We can't say anymore about that now...
Director: Paul Rae, Text: Simon Jones, Cast: Gerald Chew, Kaylene Tan, Sound: George Chua, Photos: Jack Tan, Ben Slater