The Vault

The Vault safe-keeps Singaporean works dating back to our early theatre years. The platform does not merely document the past but manifests as contemporary responses to these works presented at Centre 42 premises. The Centre invites artists and practitioners to respond critically and personally to canonical Singapore classics, lesser known pieces and rarities, reworks and adaptations, and cross-cultural and cross-genres works.

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The Vault: My Grandfather’s Road 我阿公的路

My Grandfather’s Road was first presented in 2015 as an English- language monologue, a photo exhibition and a book. It was conceived and written by Neo Kim Seng as a way of reconnecting with childhood memories of living on Neo Pee Teck Lane, which was named after his paternal grandfather. In 2017, Kim Seng revisits the text of My Grandfather’s Road, refreshing it in the spoken language of his childhood – Cantonese. He also explores the Cantonese as spoken on both sides of the Causeway. There will be two versions of The Vault: My Grandfather’s Road – one in Singaporean Cantonese performed by Gary Tang, and one in Malaysian Cantonese performed by Tan Cher Kian. Both versions will be presented with English surtitles.


Event Details:

Performed in Singaporean Cantonese 新加坡广东话演出
| 23 Nov, 8pm & 25 Nov, 3pm |

Performed in Malaysian Cantonese 马来西亚广东话演出
| 24 Nov, 8pm & 25 Nov 8pm |

Centre 42 Black Box
Admission price: Give-What-You-Can (Cash only, at the door)

 to secure a seat.

Read more about the play here.


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The Vault: Absence Makes the Heart…

Written by Aswani Aswath and dramaturged by Alfian Sa’at, Absence Makes the Heart… is an attempt to trace the presence and absence of Indian roles in Singapore English-language theatre, from the early days of its birth to the present moment. Featuring the actors Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, Sivakumar Palakrishnan and Grace Kalaiselvi, the work will ask: How much do we miss those who have gone missing?

Event Details:
28 Oct (Sat), 8pm
29 Oct (Sun), 3pm
@ Centre 42 Black Box

Admission price: Give-What-You-Can (Cash only, at the door)
Register to secure a seat.

Read more about the plays here.



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The Vault: Dialects & Dialectics 两方各言

No Parking On Odd Days and The Coffin Is Too Big For The Hole are two of late theatre doyen Kuo Pao Kun’s most famous monologues. Both works have been staged in English and Mandarin numerous times since they were written in the mid-1980s. In Dialects & Dialectics, Nelson Chia – the artistic director of Nine Years Theatre – works with actors Hang Qian Chou and Tay Kong Hui to explore the cultural sentiments and grassroots sensibilities of these plays by staging them in Chinese dialects. Come catch this double-bill showcase performed in Cantonese and Teochew. Chinese and English surtitles are provided.


Event Details:

Friday & Saturday, 5 & 6 May 2017
Fri & Sat 8pm; Sat 4pm @ Centre 42 Black Box

Admission price: Give-What-You-Can (Cash only, at the door)
Register to secure a seat.

Read more about the plays here.



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The Vault: Becoming Mother

Dance practitioners and researchers Dr. Nidya Shanthini Manokara and Jocelyn Chng investigate motherhood in its various manifestations – from creating life to producing creative work. Grounded in their dance practices of bharata natyam and ballet respectively, Shanthini and Jocelyn respond to themes of creation and creativity in the dramatic writings of playwrights Verena Tay, Ovidia Yu and Chong Tze Chien.

The presentation is in two parts: The first is an exhibition displaying the research materials that Shanthini and Jocelyn encountered during their investigations, which include texts, photos and food. The second part is a devised performance which draws on text, dance forms, and the two women’s personal experiences to playfully tease out the relationships between art and motherhood.

Join Shanthini and Jocelyn on a journey of artmaking and babymaking in this final instalment of The Vault series exploring dance and play-text.

Event Details:

Sunday, 19 March 2017
4pm @ Centre 42

Admission price: Give-What-You-Can (Cash only, at the door)
Register to secure a seat.

Read more about the plays here.




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The Vault: Dancing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In a continuing series exploring dance and dramatic text, Singaporean contemporary dance artist Lee Mun Wai responds to three of playwright Elangovan’s works.

Talaq, Smegma and Stoma were banned from performance in the years 2000, 2006, 2013 respectively. Written by Elangovan, these plays are unapologetically stark and provocative in their portrayal of social tensions and inequalities. Although never publicly staged, the three play-texts were published in 2014 in a collection titled The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

In 2017, Mun Wai responds to these three plays through dance. In a performance that is both structured and improvised, he intends to move past their initial shock value, to facilitate and broaden the discussion of the social issues highlighted.

Event Details:

Friday, 24 February 2017
8pm @ Centre 42 Black Box

Admission price: Give-What-You-Can (Cash only, at the door)
Register to secure a seat.

Read more about the research, the plays and the playwright here.



The Vault: Leng-Geh-Mng 龍牙門

Leng-Geh-Mng (“Dragon’s Tooth Gate”) is a comedy which spoofs the conventions of pugilistic films set in ancient China. This play was written by playwrights Lee Shyh Jih and Lim Poh Poh and was first staged in 1998.

After nearly two decades, Zelda Tatiana Ng revisits Leng-Geh-Mng in this Vault instalment, alongside some of the original cast members. Under Zelda’s direction and treatment, Leng-Geh-Mng will be retold in the format of a radio play. The actors will read the original Mandarin text, with selected portions refreshed with translations into other Chinese dialects in an experiment with language.

Don’t miss this one-night only performance-presentation. Performed in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects, with English surtitles.

The Vault: Leng-Geh-Mng is supported by the ARTS FUND.

Event Details:

Saturday, 16 July 2016
8pm @ Centre 42 Black Box

Admission is free. Register to secure a seat.

Read more about the artist, the research, the plays involved.
View these resources here.



The Vault: Distilling the Dance

Kiran Kumar is a Singapore-based independent interdisciplinary artist whose practice is dance-centric. About a decade ago, Kiran took an audio-guided walk around Little India conceived by spell#7, a Singapore performance company whose site-specific, environmental audio works weave history, culture and politics into everyday life. Titled Desire Paths, a voice from an earpiece guided Kiran through the landmarks, streets and people of the historic neighbourhood. The experience of simultaneously being both audience and performer has stayed with him since.

In 2016, Kiran responds to the audio archives of spell #7’s Desire Paths in an investigation of the performer’s and audience’s positions in dance. In this instalment of The Vault, in conjunction with the Dance Nucleus ELEMENT residency programme, Kiran seeks to challenge the convention of “spectators watching dancers perform” through four configurations of movement, text and image: an essay-performance, an audio-installation, an exhibition and a workshop. Together, the four configurations may be seen as a curatorial experiment in presenting dance beyond the frame of performance.

Event Details:

[Opening] Essay-Performance “Dear Dead Dance”:
Saturday, 2 July 2016
3.30pm @ Centre 42 Black Box
Admission is free. Register now to secure a seat.

Open daily from 2 – 6 July 2016, 5.00pm – 10.00pm:
Audio-Installation “There Is No Dance” @ Black Box
Exhibition “Expanded Writing” @ Library

In conjunction with Dance Nucleus ELEMENT:
Essay-Performance “Dear Dead Dancer” @ Dance Nucleus Studio
Workshop “Distilling the Dance: Somatic Practices” @ Dance Nucleus Studio

Read more about the artist, the research, the plays involved.
View these resources here.



The Vault: Project Understudy

Seven writers came together to write a play. Their collective creation Understudy reimagines the post-‘black-out-and-curtains’ world of Tan Tarn How’s Undercover (1993) with a special guest appearance by a character from The Lady of Soul and Her Ultimate ‘S’ Machine (1994), and three newly created characters.

Conceived and edited by Dr Robin Loon, and organised by NUS Thespis, Project Understudy explores sequels, scruples & satire using a collective writing creation process. Inspired by the processes of devised theatre, seven writers were assigned one character respectively. Not only not only must they create and explore that character thoroughly, the writers also had to ensure their characters interact with one another through plotted scenarios and situations. Instead of taking matters to the floor, the writers took to the screen around a table and created draft 1 of Understudy.

Join the writers as they share with you their process of collaborative writing and read you excerpts from draft 1 of this new play Understudy.

Event Details:

Monday, 23 May 2016
8pm @ Centre 42 Black Box
Admission is free. Register now to secure a seat.

Read more about this process-presentation, the plays and the artists involved.
View these resources here.



Image credit: Performance still extracted from archived video footage of “Quick Death to Infinity”

The Vault: How Did You Meet Tina?

A performance-presentation created and directed by Chong Tze Chien that traces the legacy of the late Christina Sergeant via archival footage and images as well as recreated interviews with her collaborators, friends, family and students.

Don’t miss this one-night only performance-presentation. Performed by Nora Samosir, Serene Chen and Tan Shou Chen.

Event Details:

Saturday, 5 December 2015
8pm @ Centre 42 Black Box
Admission is free. Register now to secure a seat.

Read more about this performance-presentation, the artist’s research process and Christina Sergeant.
View these resources here.



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The Vault: 汐/Sea

Written by Haresh Sharma in 1997, Sea is a phantasmagoric journey through the lives of two sisters who can’t live with or without each other, but are always with and without each other. The short play was staged as part of a double-bill in 1997 at The Substation. On stage as the sisters were Serene Chen and Zelda Tatiana Ng. In the audience were Robin Loon and Casey Lim. The performance left its mark on both of them. It made such an impression on Robin that he was inspired to re-engage Sea through translation, a creative process that produced <<汐>> .

Eighteen years on, Serene, Zelda, Robin and Casey revisit Sea, refreshed with a completely new Chinese translation<<汐>> alongside Haresh’s English text. In tow are their personal reflections on the 1997 staging.

Don’t miss this one-night only performance-presentation. Performed in English and Mandarin with surtitles.

Event Details:

Monday, 23 November 2015
8pm @ Centre 42 Black Box
Admission is free. Register now to secure a seat.

Read about the playwright, the plays and the artist.
View these resources here.



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The Vault: Big Bird and the Cat

An exploration into the metaphors of the plays of Kuo Pao Kun

Join Margaret Chan in her investigation of Kuo Pao Kun’s metaphors of Big Bird and the Cat. Features readings from four of his plays by Ali Khan, Margaret Chan and SMU students – The Eagle and the Cat (Chinese 1992, English 1995), The Evening Climb (1992), Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral (1995), Mama Looking for Her Cat (1998).

Event Details:

Monday, 12 October 2015
8pm @ Centre 42 Black Box
Admission is free. Register now to secure a seat.

Read about the playwright, the plays and the artist.
View these resources here.



The Vault: #3 three

Three theatre designers, Three unique responses, Three installations, One play-text Invisibility.

The focus is brought to a theatre designer’s response to text in this series of three installations. In the absence of a prescribed directorial vision, design collective INDEX connects directly with the play Invisibility, interprets its narrative and re-imagines it using their specialized language of design. As a term, the word Invisibility alludes to the absence of bodies on stage; as a subject, it relates to the nature of a theatre designer’s work in a conventional production.

May 2015
By lighting designer Lim Woan Wen
July 2015
By sound artist Darren Ng
September 2015
By spatial designer Lim Wei Ling

The Vault: #3.1 In/Visibility

The first in the series titled “The Vault: #3 three”, #3.1 In/Visibility is a light performance-presentation. Stripped of actors and spoken words, lighting designer Lim Woan Wen seeks to express the play in relation to the space of the Centre 42 Black Box based on the structure, circumstances, characters, emotions and themes of the script.

Event Details:
22 & 23 May 2015
7.30pm, 8.30pm, 9.30pm
(30min, no intermission)
Centre 42 Black Box
Admission is free. Limited capacity for each show.

Read about the playwright, the play and its themes; Get to know the artist and her inspiration for In/Visibility; Watch the 30-minute video representation of the light performance-presentation.

View these resources here.

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The Vault: #3.2 For The Time Being

The second in the series titled “The Vault: #3 three”, #3.2 For The Time Being is an intimate sound installation in response to selected themes from the play Invisibility by Quah Sy Ren.

It takes an approximate 80 milliseconds for our brain to process all the relevant sensory input from our perceptions, before it experiences the “now”. As such, we are constantly living in the past, an 80 milliseconds of liminal disjuncture. Set as a quiet transitional experience, the sound installation highlights the restlessness of this ephemeral and liminal state of “now”; and the meaninglessness and futility of living in the present. For The Time Being hopes to accentuate the dichotomy of being and nothingness by augmenting the sound of ice melting as a way to alienate and/or heighten meanings from our perceptions.

Visitors will engage in this discreet and metaphysical conversation brought about by chance, as a matter transits from one state to the other in time and space.

Event Details:
22 – 25 July 2015
5.00pm – 9.00pm (wed – fri)
3.00pm – 7.00pm (sat)
*last admission 20min before closing
Centre 42 Black Box
Admission is free.

Read about the playwright, the play and its themes; Get to know the artist and his research process for For The Time Being; Watch the audio-visual documentation of the sound installation.

View these resources here.

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The Vault: #3.3 Scale 1:333 333.333…

The third of the series, #3.3 SCALE 1:333333.333… is a bold spatial installation in response to selected themes from the play Invisibility by Quah Sy Ren.

Conceived as a multi-dimensional ‘organism’, this living installation highlights the ephemeral nature of relationships and the interchangeable, interdependent forces of life that exist in this larger world. Solid and gaseous CO2 is used as a key medium to embody the transitional becoming of a state. In this exploration of an organic spatial construct, the lifespan of a solid block of CO2 evaporating into thin air to that of an average human lifespan is to the scale 1:333333.333… .

Visitors will engage and contribute – by the presence of their energies in the space – to this environment, and may find themselves creating a place to disconnect and reconnect all at once.

Event Details:
30 September – 3 October 2015
6.00pm – 9.00pm (wed – fri)
3.00pm – 6.00pm (sat)
*last admission 20min before closing
Centre 42 Black Box and various spaces
Admission is free. Register here to secure entry.

Read about the playwright, the play and its themes; Get to know the artist and his research process for Scale 1:333 333.333…

View these resources here.

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Quotable Quotes!

“Centre 42’s been taking baby steps in the right direction and last night, it opened one of its programmes in the best way possible….Not your run-of-the-mill reading, Goh’s When Smiles Are Done and Lim’s A White Rose At Midnight are put in dialogue with one another and with the social and historical context in which these were written, all via newspaper articles, academic essays, a video montage and, of course, excerpts from the pieces themselves, as performed by actresses Serene Chen and Nora Samosir, along with Centre 42’s Robin Loon and Casey Lim.”

~ Mayo Martin, in Today’s For Arts Sake

The Vault 1.1 – Nineteen Sixty-Four

1964 – Singapore was part of Malaysia.
1964 – The year of racial riots between ethnic Chinese and Malays.
1964 – The year when two pioneering Singaporean dramatists wrote English-language plays in response to the lack of local plays that reflected recognisable themes, characters and speech. Prior to 1964, Lim Chor Pee’s Mimi Fan (1962) stood alone in the scene. In 1964, Goh Poh Seng wrote his first play and then, there were two.

2014 – We respond to these two writers’ sophomore creations respectively and collectively. We remember the plays while we refresh our perspectives on them – and retell the stories we see in them. Nora Samosir, Serene Chen, Casey Lim and Robin Loon investigates the texts of When Smiles are Done (Goh Poh Seng) and A White Rose at Midnight (Lim Chor Pee). They will suggest critical relationships between the present and the past while ruminating on their own connections with the texts, Singapore and Singapore theatre.

For one evening only, we invite you to share in these artists’ personal responses in an intimate lecture-performance.

An overview and documentation of The Vault 1.1 – Nineteen Sixty-Four

Read about the plays, playwrights and the historical context of the 60s when these were written; Hear the artist-collaborators reflect upon the creative process of Nineteen Sixty-Four; Watch the 90-minute Lecture-Performance documented in an 8-part recording.

View these resources here.