Time Out Singapore: ‘Mandala’


7 Oct 2014: It was truly third time lucky for Jacklyn Kuah: ‘I auditioned for In Source Theatre the first time in the 2000s, and didn’t get the part. I auditioned again later and still didn’t get in, for one reason or another. For my third audition, they were looking for someone to help them with a research documentary called Defining Spiritual Theatre. We met at The Substation and once we all got there they took us to Fort Canning and told us to run. I thought there’s no way I’d get it – I was so unprepared,’ she recalls with a laugh. But she did get it. That was 2005 and now, nine years later, she has taken over as the company’s artistic director.

As Singapore’s only physical theatre group, In Source was founded in 2003 by Beverly Yuen as an associate artistic group of The Substation, and places emphasis not only on acting, but also body movements in the form of dance and martial arts. While it enjoyed great success and brought many of its productions overseas to places as diverse as Hawaii and Poland, the full-time members decided to go on a sabbatical after performing at a festival in Korea in 2009 to pursue their own studies.

The group did several smaller projects during this break, including a performance at The Substation called Leaping Fish in the City last year, but this month it’s back for sure and determined to stay.

‘We’re still looking for a venue to call our permanent home, but while there are many physical theatre practitioners in Singapore, there’s no other company here that focusses on that, so I think it’s really important we bring it back,’ says Kuah.

And she didn’t have to think too hard to know that she will mark the company’s return – as well as her reign as the new artistic director – with Mandala. The piece, which involves a performer drawing a three-metre wide version of the intricate spiritual symbol across the stage throughout the show with rice to represent the cycle of human life, was initially staged in 2003. Different versions of it were performed in subsequent years, and Kuah says that she has a personal attachment to it, partly because it has elements that can resonate with everyone.

‘I don’t expect people to watch the show and understand everything about it, but that’s okay. It’s a piece that you can take away and reflect on afterwards,’ she says. ‘Plus, it’s aesthetically very beautiful – and it’s enjoyable!’

And we can’t wait to see what Kuah has in store for us theatre fiends.

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