Curtain Call: The Good Farmer

The performance tour of The Good Farmer ended last weekend. Thank you to everyone who came and supported us!

The Good Farmer tells the story of twin brothers Jacob and Joseph Teo, and how favouritism and inferiority complex affected their lives. The Performance Tour is an annual programme presented by TheatreWorks that continues the work of the company in raising awareness of human and social issues, and providing open and inviting platforms for the discussion of these topics.

So a big thank you to everyone who shared with us your thoughts, feedbacks and questions about the show.

The relationship between father and son, regarding grades & surviving in Singapore. The performance was relevant and thought-provoking” — Rachael Ng, Teacher

“Sophisticated, multi-layered and touching reflection of family and society… I cried twice” — Yoval Sedan, Physicist

“Preserving our roots and heritage versus modernization and economic growth. The performance was enriching to the soul” – Xing Le, Student

(It) get(s) people talking and thinking after the show and be more critical of the social issues that surround them. You gain an awareness that you can’t get from textbooks“. — Michael Ng

“The issue of constant competition, pitting ourselves against others, definitely resonated with me.” — Chan Yan Kei

 

“If I had children, I would want them to see this.” – Poh Bao Li

“The local context and its explored themes were thought-provoking in the current political climate. Of course the lines also felt very familiar and as a whole the play was superb. It was thought-provoking and witty.” – Chan Tsin Damien

“The play reflects much of my personal struggles living and working in Singapore. Excellent, thought-provoking and enlightening!” – Shyam Anard Singh

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We’re glad to hear that many of our audience members enjoyed the performance of The Good Farmer! And that it brought up food for thought about living in Singapore.

We hope to see everyone again soon! – Perhaps at our next programme? Find out more here!

 

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Check out this video trailer for ‘The Good Farmer’

Our fabulous community partners, South East CDC – Your Social Broker made a trailer for The Good Farmer – TheatreWorks Performance Tour 2018.

Only 4 shows to go before we end our tour of The Good Farmer! Be sure to register for your tickets as seats are filling up fast! Register here today! 

 

A Conversation with Actor, Desmond Soh

Desmond Soh is keen on exploring how theatrical structures can create spaces for conversations in the community. He was a part of the second batch of ARTivate, the youth wing of Drama Box, and later graduated from the Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI). Find out more about Desmond and what The Good Farmer means to him in this interview.

Tell us something about yourself.

I just graduated from ITI (Intercultural Theatre Institute) not too long ago, and I’m really excited to apply what I learned in school with TheatreWorks!

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Usually a warm-up, going through some parts of the play in my head, and taking a sip of water before the show starts.

Do you feel you can relate to the plot or the characters in any way? What does working on The Good Farmer mean to you?

I think that the play inherently consists of quite a few layers of meaning and possibilities of interpretation. Tensions in family relationships, and those between the individual and the state are at play here. It’s been engaging trying to make all of these clear for both the character and the actor. Kudos to Grace (director) and Christopher (playwright) for always being so open in discussing and finding out with us how all these can tie up together so that we as actors can hold on to the weight of the piece.

Personally, I am interested in how memory is being shared, between individuals, and between generations. There are underlying tensions in the family in the play that I’m very intrigued by.

Tell us something about the characters you’re playing? (Without giving away too much!)

Both of the characters that I’m playing are perhaps manifestations of a patriarchial culture specific to here, one that emphasizes hierarchial power, emotional distance and obedience. They exert seemingly different pressures on the other characters but they actually have some common traits between them.

Are there any challenges that you face while trying to portray your characters?

Well, for a start, I’m quite distant from the ages of the characters I play, both physically and mentally. So the challenge for me is to explore the depths of these characters so that they relate well both to the characters I’m playing against, and to the audience.

 

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The Soh siblings, with Desmond in the middle

How many siblings do you have? What are they like? What was it like growing up with them? 

I have 2 older siblings (an oldest brother, and a second sister). I have a significant age gap with both of them, so trying to navigate the relationships with them is always quite interesting for me. My father used to tell me that my brother is like “half a dad” to me. There was once when the 3 of us went out to get stuff, and a shopkeeper thought that we were a 3-generation family walking together. They also have varied interests so I really got to enjoy a range of experiences when I grew up with them.

What is your favourite memory with your siblings?

Going to Orchard Road during the Christmas period in the 90s. The crowd back then was really huge, so I remember being absolutely dazzled by the lights and decorations, while both my hands were held by my siblings. Their hands were in turn held by my parents’ hands. So we were a string of five trying to navigate the massive crowd of Orchard Road at Christmas!

How has the audience reaction been through the shows so far?

The reactions were very welcoming so far. A lot of the audiences were able to relate to the play in all its different meanings, and the post-show dialogue has been at times very enlightening for me as well. One of the audience reflected that the various inter-textualities included made this a show with a lot of materials to chew on, and that inspires me to find both wider and deeper possibilities that I might have missed out.

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Describe the play in a few words.

An exploration how and why people can live different lives while still being utterly similar.


Register for your tickets for The Good Farmer here today!

 

Conversation with Actor, Jeramy Lim

Jeramy Lim isn’t a new face to TheatreWorks – he played Damien in our latest run of Grey Matters, which toured through ten schools in the South East District and ended in February. A recent graduate in acting from LASALLE College of the Arts, Jeramy already has several shows under his belt, such as Samuel Beckett’s Play (directed by Sarah Jane Scaife), Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (directed by Adam Marple), and Leow Puay Tin’s Family (directed by Noor Effendy Ibrahim). Find out more about Jeramy and what The Good Farmer means to him in this interview!

Tell us something about yourself.

If I hadn’t been an actor, I think I would probably be an events planner.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I like to spend my pre-show in solitude. I usually prefer warming up alone in a corner of the dressing room or stage. Then it’s mainly just placing my concentration on my characters as I’m getting mic-ed up, wearing each layer of costume, flipping through my script to note points I’ve jotted down, that sort of preparation. And just before the lights go on when I’m ready to get on stage, I mentally allow my co-actors to enter this quiet space of mine. The very last thing, which is also my favourite, is I look at the audience and allow myself to absorb their energy, and I’m ready.

Do you feel you can relate to the plot or the characters in any way? What does working on The Good Farmer mean to you?

Of course! There has to be some relation to the plot or the characters for me to find an entry point into the play. I see a part of myself in Jacob’s cynicism and Joseph’s passionate activist side. That’s my relation to them, which I dig into to discover more, or sometimes I amplify an attribute to play with something about the characters I want to play with. I think what drew me to Jacob and Joseph, which in part is the playwright’s ingenuity, is their deeply intertwined yet separate histories and flawed personalities. For me, flaws are what make the characters in a play human. So it’s exciting to have a play where I can portray the ups and downs of both characters.

The Good Farmer is a newly written piece and I feel honoured to be part of the first team to tackle it, because the first go at a new piece is always very challenging, and at the same time it sets the precedent for future stagings. I’m also really thankful to TheatreWorks for giving me this opportunity so early on in my career.

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Jeramy playing Joseph in The Good Farmer

Tell us something about the characters you’re playing? (Without giving away too much!)

I’ll try my best not to give away too much. I’ll speak more about Jacob since the story is mainly told from his perspective. There’s an ingrained bitterness and cynicism of Jacob that stems from both his rivalry with his identical twin brother, and the constant vying of his father’s love and approval. I feel that’s what sets off the play, and as Jacob recalls various memories, each recollection becomes a point of reflection for him. Does he like who he has become? What would he want to change? And we see how each memory he revisits eventually moulds his present and future.

Joseph is more of that slightly typical Singaporean guy taking that route that our society has conditioned us to believe is the best route in life living here. Good education, good job, stability, all that. And he’s reached a point in his life where he realises even the best route has its flaws (which I’m sure he has been aware of but has reached a breaking point), so he embarks on a personal journey to find out if there is another route to complement and make it better than what it is now.

Are there any challenges that you face while trying to portray your characters?

There are always challenges working on roles. I find that challenges make the process fun for me as opposed to a role I can portray right off the bat. When there’s friction, I find the process very rewarding. I get so into my characters that I think about them day in and day out. Especially with a play where the characters have a lot of history between each other, there’s a lot of thinking which sometimes makes me go a little too internal and detached from rehearsals at the beginning.

The Good Farmer is a more character-driven piece with blocks of dialogues that cycle through memory and reality, one challenge is always keeping things light and active in the portrayal to counterbalance the heavy subject matter of the play.

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Jeramy’s copy of the script accompanied by his notes on his characters

 

How many siblings do you have? What are they like? What was it like growing up with them?

As an only child, the idea of siblings used to fascinate me as a kid, because I always yearn to feel what it’s like to be able to share my toys with someone else. I did have somewhat of a brother because I was pretty close to my cousin growing up. But I don’t live with him you see, so it’s not exactly the same, and also over the years I’ve grown to appreciate being by myself. And I guess growing up, because both my parents have siblings, it’s interesting to notice the interactions between them. There’s drama, there’s love, there’s heartbreak; the things you go through with your siblings cannot be equated to the things you go through with any other family member.

Describe the play in a few words.

East of Eden-esque without the violent, gory bits.


The Good Farmer is touring the South East District from 8 March to 24 March 2018.

Reserve your tickets here today!

Conversation with Director, Grace Kalaiselvi

If you feel that you’ve seen director Grace Kalaiselvi previously, it’s probably because you’ve seen her donning other hats – as an actress, writer, creator and director. You’ve also probably seen her playing Lathika in Channel 5’s long form series, Tanglin.

Grace was also in last year’s Performance Tour of Mixed! In this interview, Grace shares with us her first impressions of The Good Farmer, what the play means to her, and even gives us a glimpse into her own family.

 

You’re both an actor and a director. How do you navigate between the two? Does it complement each other in any way?

As an actor, I tend to think what’s the best way to be a character in a script giving importance to all intentions and objectives. As a director, I tend to visualise how a play can be played out and push for those ideas to match with what the actors can offer during rehearsal. The actor in me helps to test out the possibilities that I visualise on what can be done and then I try to guide the actors to achieve what is best for a play. But sometimes, the actor in me can be rather adamant and impatient to see results, and that’s when I have to step out of the actor role, and let the director role take over.

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Grace sharing her notes during rehearsals for The Good Farmer

What was your first impression upon reading The Good Farmer?

Intelligent, societal, experiential writing but a little wordy. I am glad that Christopher was open and receptive to the feedback and worked hard at making changes to the play, to take it further.

Do you feel you can relate to the plot or the characters in any way? What does working on The Good Farmer mean to you?

I definitely can relate to the characters. I have siblings and there is animosity and rivalry among us. I can understand why siblings end up not talking to one another for a long period or forever. Trivial it may seem, but comparing siblings’ education, behaviour and success can do substantial amount of psychological damage. Working on The Good Farmer means having the opportunity to bring across the delicateness of the matter so that one can identify and address sibling rivalry early.

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Grace with her family

How many siblings do you have? What are they like? What was it like growing up with them?

I have an elder brother and an elder sister. We are in our 40s, so independently living in our own nests. More distant than when young. But my mum still points out how different yet alike we are in many habits and characteristics.

My brother stopped talking to us since I was 11. Sibling rivalry arose because of a simple educational comparison that was made by my father. I was always close to my sister. She was like a ‘Best Friend Forever’, someone whom I always hung out with for movies, plays, trekking, clubbing, holidays and even to just chill, until she moved out of the house to live independently. Suddenly losing a BFF was hard, and from then we became more distant and we seldom talk unless she comes over to visit my mum.

What is your favourite memory with your siblings?

My sister and I went on a holiday to Sri Lanka in 2002. The only, just the two of us, kind of trip. We backpacked and went free and easy. Had lots of crazy moments. It was a great trip.

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Grace and her sister during their travels together

What can audiences expect from The Good Farmer?

An intriguing family drama that will touch your hearts.

Describe the play in a few words. 

The role a father might play to either fuel or quell sibling rivalry and the need for social responsibility.


The Good Farmer is touring the South East District from 8 March to 24 March 2018.

Reserve your tickets here today!