An actor, director and educator, Daniel’s professional acting and directing work has encompassed theatre, television, and film, having worked for all the major theatre companies in Singapore. He has twice won the Straits Times Life Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor and is Associate Artistic Director at Singapore Repertory Theatre. He shares his thoughts about directing the upcoming TYC Graduate Showcase – Girls Like That.
Q1. Why did you choose Evan Placey's Girls Like That for the TYC Graduate showcase?
Daniel: I always try to choose a script that is well written and challenging for my young cast. Plus, it helps if the content is something that they can relate to, get their teeth into, and really enjoy playing. Usually large cast ensemble pieces are more suitable and more fun .
Q2. As this is an all-female cast tackling issues related to current gender roles in the modern era, what are some of the challenges you face as the director?
Daniel: My initial concern was that as I am not female, do I have a right to tackle a play that centres around gender equality, misogyny, and the patriarchal system designed to keep women down? Would we be able to have the open and frank discussions about sensitive issues required, or would my maleness cloud my opinion and the very female points discussed within the play. Luckily, my wonderful cast have been incredibly brave in sharing their personal stories. It has been enlightening to hear things from a female perspective and to try and understand a little more about sisterhood, female oppression and the pressures and inequality they face.
Q3. Girls Like That was written for audiences based in the UK. Is there a Singaporean / local context that you have incorporated into your directing?
Daniel: As our cast and audience are Singaporean we have made a few very minor adjustments to ensure that some of the references and language is understood. I am not a great lover of Singaporeanising scripts as I always feel it is a little patronising to our audience to suggest that they won’t appreciate, enjoy or relate to a story if it isn’t Singaporean. We are exposed to TV and cinema from around the world and have no problem enjoying a Netflix show or movie that takes place somewhere else, so I don’t see why theatre should be any different. Of course, clarity and understanding is important, but a good story is a good story no matter where it is set.
Q4. Why do you think it is important for young people to come to watch Girls Like That?
Daniel: Evan Placey has written a play about girls, boys, feminism, friendship, self-image, sex, and online sharing and shaming. It raises issues all too relevant for teenagers and young adults in today’s world. It will make our audience, think, debate and question our own responsibilities and whether when faced with inequality, do we choose collective responsibility or inaction. Plus it's a rare opportunity to see an all-female cast in a powerful, entertaining and dynamic ensemble piece of theatre.
Girls Like That plays at the KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT from 16 to 19 December 2021. Click here to book your tickets.