Open Waters is a new work created through a collaboration between Singaporean artist Tan Shou Chen and Bangkok artist Jaturachai Srichanwanpen (“Chuan”).
Open Waters seeks to write a new creation myth for Singapore and Bangkok, using water myths as a starting point. Water is a recurrent trope in both Singaporean and Thai cultures. The collaborative process between Singapore and Bangkok contemporary theatre-makers involves cross-cultural creation, drawing heavily from the histories and existing traditional arts found in the artists’ respective countries to develop a new, contemporary story for theatre.
Over the course of 18 months, Shou Chen and Chuan will devise and develop Open Waters through research, workshopping and readings. The artists document their process on openwatersplay.wordpress.c
Phase 1 (October 2016 to March 2017)
The first phase involves research into Singapore and Thai stories and myths to gather thematic ideas and build a basic story structure. Shou Chen and Chuan will also learn a traditional art form from either country to facilitate storytelling. From Singapore, the pair will learn puppetry, specifically Wayang Kulit and Chinese Marionettes, from Tan Beng Tian, artistic director of Singapore puppetry theatre company The Finger Players. From Thailand, Shou Chen and Chuan will learn traditional Khon Dance.
Phase 2 (April to September 2017)
This phase involves devising, writing and reading the play. Between April and September 2017, Shou Chen and Chuan will devise and write Open Waters in Singapore, with the aim of producing a first draft and refining it. The draft will receive a public reading at the Bangkok Theatre Festival: Asia Focus in May 2017.
Phase 3 (October 2017 to March 2018)
The project will culminate in two dramatised readings of Open Waters, one in November at the Bangkok Theatre Festival 2017, and another in January 2018 in Singapore. The purpose of these readings is to invite producers or festival directors to view Open Waters and generate interest in bringing the work to a larger audience. Shou Chen and Chuan will also share their process of creating the play.
Open Waters was developed in residence at Centre 42’s Basement Workshop.
Follow the creation process through this series of video interviews with Shou Chen, Chuan and their dramaturg Ng Yi-Sheng.
01 Working Together (11 Apr 2017)
Shou Chen and Chuan share why they wanted to work together and how they conceived their project to write a play about both Singapore and Bangkok. They also talk about what it’s like to work with a dramaturg (Ng Yi-Sheng) and the 18 months they have to develop the play.
02 Looking for Impetus (11 Apr 2017)
Shou Chen and Chuan describe their research trips in Phase 1, which comprised visits to each other’s countries to learn about the local culture and art forms.
03 Dovetailing Nicely (11 Apr 2017)
Shou Chen, Chuan and Yi-Sheng talk about Phase 2, during which the artists made use of their experiences and learnings in Phase 1 to create a first draft of “Open Waters”.
Shou Chen and Chuan talk about their experience performing a first public reading of “Open Waters” at the Bangkok Theatre Festival Asia Focus in May. They also discuss the feedback they received from the audiences there.
05 Draft 3.1 (16 Aug 2017)
Draft 2 of “Open Waters” was read at the Bangkok Theatre Festival Asia Focus in May. Shou Chen and Chuan share how they reworked the script following the Bangkok reading, in time for a closed-door reading for industry peers at Centre 42 in August. They also share the feedback they received at the Singapore reading, and talk about what is going to happen in the next phase of development.