After more than 20 years of trying to secure a permanent venue for its performances, Singapore theatre company Wild Rice finally unveiled its new home on Thursday (July 25), after a delay in opening in June.
Wild Rice’s new digs, situated in the new Funan mall, will comprise a 60-seat performance studio, rehearsal rooms, an office, as well as its 358-seat Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre.
Wild Rice will open its doors on August 8, with the re-staging of Thomas Lim’s award-winning Supervision featuring Janice Koh, Patrick Teoh and Umi Kalthum Ismail. It tells the story of a wheelchair-bound grumpy retiree who is looked after by a domestic helper, and his no-nonsense daughter who keeps a close watch on his health.
The theatre features Singapore’s only thrust stage which extends into the audience seats so that no spectator will be further than 12m away from the performers on stage. The stage configuration boasts acoustics engineered to project the human voice with no microphones or much sound enhancements needed, creating an intimate setting between audience and performers.
The theatre is modelled after the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England.
The seats are imported from Barcelona, and installed at different angles so that each member of the audience has an optimum viewing experience. Plus, each seat as a built-in air conditioning vent under it.
In a bid to expand and enhance its education and community engagement programmes, there will be learning opportunities for people of all ages, plus subsidised access to its shows.
“Theatre is for everyone. Its transformative power can change lives and open hearts and minds, and it should not be available only to those who have the means and privilege to go to the theatre,” says Mr Heng, Wild Rice’s founding artistic director.