Founded just over a year ago, Couch Theatre may be a young company, but they’re showing that they’re not afraid to take on difficult works. Gwen Pew speaks to artistic director Jasdeep Gill before their production of Martin McDonagh’s award-winning play The Pillowman his the stage this month.
3 Jul 2014: Founded by five friends who met at Raffles Junior College’s drama society during a production of local playwright Jean Tay’s Boom, Couch Theatre was established in 2013, with their debut production of Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play earning them acclaim and positioning them as a young but daring group that’s willing to take on challenging works.
‘I recall us lazing around a living room throwing all sorts of names about,’ says artistic director Jasdeep Gill, 21, about how their name came about. ‘It slowly turned into adding “theatre” or “productions” to various living room objects, and someone yelled “Couch Theatre” – sometime later it ended up with the majority vote!’
One year later, with all the boys in the group (now comprising six members) done with National Service, they’re back this month with Martin McDonagh’s Olivier-, New York Drama Critics’ Circle- and Tony-award winning piece, The Pillowman. The black comedy is about a writer who is interrogated by two policemen as his disturbing short stories of gruesome childmurder start to come true.
‘The Pillowman is probably one of the best-written modern pieces of work that I’ve ever encountered. During my first read I was completely enamoured by the style of writing and story line,’ says Gill. He’s aware that it’s a difficult piece of work and that it will inevitably be compared to Singapore Repertory Theatre’s production of the same play in 2007, but it’s a challenge that he’s up for. ‘My love of theatre is linked to working with scripts that challenge me and push me to my limits – and I can’t think of anything better to go with than this.’
Come this October, Gill will be heading to Oxford to pursue a degree in Law, but he’s convinced that Couch Theatre’s story is just beginning: ‘I am but one of an extremely dedicated cast of six that keep the Couch machine running! We will be continuing to produce up to two performances a year -– we have actually begun preparation for an original piece of work entitled Beneath The Fold, which will be showcased in December – so look out for that!’