Video: Koh Boon Pin in the Living Room with Russell Heng

In the Living Room with Koh Boon Pin and Russell Heng was held in the company of a live audience on 10 April 2015.

This cosy session, hosted by veteran journalist and actor Koh Boon Pin, was a conversation with Singaporean playwright and activist Russell Heng about his play-writing journey. Russell’s careers and transitions influenced the content and context of the three plays he wrote.

The 65-minute Living Room Chat has been repackaged into a 3-part video recording:

Part 1: Koh Boon Pin begins his conversation with Russell Heng by getting him to talk about the early years of his life. Russell shares memories of his formative years, from his childhood to his university years to his first jobs as a civil servant and a journalist. These were the experiences which later shaped his play-writing. Russell credits the university years in New Zealand for his sense of activism.

Part 2: The chat continues with Russell discussing his first play, Lest the Demons Get to Me (written in 1987) and the controversy it stirred when it was first staged by TheatreWorks in 1992. Boon Pin, who performed in the play’s first reading (1991), also shares his memories of playing the lead character K.C. The conversation then turned to Russell’s years in gay advocacy group P.L.U. (People Like Us).

Part 3: This segment focused on Russell’s more recent plays — Half Century (written in 1994) and Comrade Mayor (written in 2002). Russell shares with Boon Pin the difficulties faced in getting his contentious plays from page to stage. To end off the conversation, Russell shares a clip from his favourite Teochew opera which inspires him to write courageously about social injustices.

As an introduction of the above plays, production footages of Half Century and Comrade Mayor were kindly provided by TheatreWorks (S) Limited for the Living Room. If you would like to view the archival footage, please email



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The Living Room is a programme by Centre 42 that welcomes chat and conversation. Through focused but casual dialogues and face-to-face exchanges, this programme encourages participants to re-examine trends, happenings, people (on & off-stage) and phenomena in Singapore theatre.

Find out more about the Living Room programme here.