It’s time to mark the dates on your calendar – this July, watch the local anthological novel Here And Beyond come to life. Toy Factory Productions will be taking the montage of 12 heartland stories to the stage.
We spoke with Stanley Seah, Associate Artistic Director at Toy Factory Productions, who is directing this production.
Stanley first discovered his love for drama back in secondary school, inspired by his drama instructor who “treated me (him) as an individual with a voice.” After secondary school, he went on to pursue his studies at NAFA and completed a Masters in Directing at the University of Essex.
I ask Stanley what his favourite part of his job is, and he cited working under Toy Factory Productions director, Goh Boon Teck, as the main reason why he enjoys going to work. Stanley shares that he was enthralled by a performance directed by Boon Teck back when he was still a student.
“IF WE DON’T PUT IT ON A PEDESTAL, WHO WILL?”
You may be wondering at this point what made the director take up the challenge of adapting 12 different storylines into just one production.
“I knew that I wanted to do something that would benefit the younger generation in Singapore,” says Stanley.
After discovering that the novel was the only local literature text required for the ‘O’ Level examinations, he wanted to bring these heartland stories to an audience. He strongly feels that there should be an appreciation for local literature.
While the director acknowledges that they will be expecting a younger audience, he wants to convey the message that the show is for everyone.
“This play is for the Singaporean who has lived overseas for years and wants to reconnect with local culture; but it is also for the foreigner who wants to learn what is it to be a Singaporean. I want it to be a show that not only students can appreciate, but one that my parent’s generation will enjoy as well.”
Here And Beyond will also touch on themes that are very close to heart, such as the cost of living here in Singapore.
“We always say that expenses in Singapore are high, but we also have the option of having chicken rice at the market for $3,” elaborates Stanley, who insists that we are “a country of dilemma.”
“When we are living in such a highly strung society, when you are given a cheaper option, can you automatically choose that option?”
Here And Beyond also touches on serious issues such as the death sentence. In the story of The Judge, the protagonist struggles with meting out death sentences to drug offenders. “We often forget about the characters in our lives who have to do these things,” explains the passionate director, citing that the human element is often ignored, with emphasis placed on the black and white details.
He mentions that while all the stories in Here And Beyond have their charm, the story titled Grasshoppers resonates with him the most, as it draws close parallels to his personal life.
“My family runs a coffee shop; the protagonist’s family runs a coffee shop, and we have several things in common, which creates a funny feeling in my stomach,” he laughs.
Words of Wisdom
Many young, aspiring creatives face apprehension from their folks when they express the desire to enter the arts industry. We ask Stanley what he thinks of this, and what words of advice he may offer to aspiring young actors and directors.
“I will be unpopular for saying this,” he chuckles, stating that “the apprehension is a good thing.”
“The challenge (in the arts industry) is incredible. You have to deal with a million things to create art. You can only go for an artistic pursuit if you cannot live without it. If people advise you against it, and you still choose to do it, then this life is for you.”
You can grab your tickets to Here And Beyond, staged at SOTA.
by Natalie Kwan