W!LD RICE



W!LD RICE is a professional theatre company started in 2000 by actor, playwright and director Ivan Heng.1 Staging shows in Singapore and abroad, the company brings Singaporean theatre to international audiences and provides a platform for local theatrical talents. W!LD RICE also runs FIRST STAGE!, a programme that aims to nurture young talents between the ages of five and 12, as well as young & W!LD, a development scheme for young theatre professionals.2

Beginnings
By the late 1980s, Heng had already made a name for himself by acting in iconic local plays such as Army Daze and Beauty World.3 After graduating from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow in 1993, he moved to London and started his own theatre company, Tripitaka.4


Heng returned to Singapore in 1998. After brief stints as artistic director at the Singapore Repertory Theatre and an actor in Malaysia, he founded W!LD RICE in 2000 and served as its artistic director.5 The company’s name drew inspiration from a mainstay of Asian food. “Rice is a staple, and I think that’s what the arts should be,” said Heng.6

W!LD RICE was launched with Stella Kon’s monodrama Emily of Emerald Hill,7 a play that has become synonymous with both the company and Heng.8 In 2002, Glen Goei joined the company as associate artistic director.9

Productions

W!LD RICE’s repertoire centres around productions of Singaporean plays and new interpretations of world classics. The company envisages its works to be “distinctively local in flavour and yet universal in vision and concerns”.10 Some of the themes explored in past productions included sexuality, politics, race, religion, and censorship.11

The company has established itself as one of Singapore’s most successful theatre groups.12 Its pantomime production Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was one of the hits in 2008. The production sold 16,500 tickets, and enjoyed an average attendance rate of 92 percent across its 29-show run.13

Singapore Theatre Festival
In 2006, Heng conceived the Singapore Theatre Festival, a biennial affair to showcase scripts written by Singaporeans.14 The festival included plays from other theatre groups such as TheatreWorks, Drama Box and Spell#7.15 Heng said, “When I asked local playwrights why they weren’t writing, they responded it was because no one was producing their work… It is time to hear the Singaporean voice – for that is what will establish us as a theatre presence”.16

The inaugural festival ran for three weeks in August 2006 and featured nine plays,17 eight of which were new works.18 Playwrights featured included Alfian Sa’at, Eleanor Wong and Ovidia Yu.19 The 62 performances attracted 1,500 people,20 with three plays sold out and the rest averaging 80 to 95 percent attendance rates. The festival cost S$500,000 to produce and broke even financially.21

The second festival held in 2008 was known as OCBC Singapore Theatre Festival.22 It featured 14 new plays that saw a turn-out of some 10,000 people; 22 of the 47 performances were sold out.23

When investment management company Man Investments became the title sponsor for the third festival in 2011, it was renamed Man Singapore Theatre Festival.24 In 2013, the company withdrew its sponsorship. W!LD RICE then launched an alternative festival called In the Spotlight, which focused on the works of Alfian Sa’at, who was then its resident playwright. The festival was a great success and attracted more than 15,400 people to the 54 ticketed performances.25 The company revived the Singapore Theatre Festival in 2016.26

FIRST STAGE! and young & W!LD
FIRST STAGE! is a programme that offers theatre training and performance opportunities to children and youth. It aims to expose the young to various facets of arts and theatre, through plays and interactions with professional actors and production crew.27


young & W!LD is a division of W!LD RICE which trains and nurtures young theatre professionals. The programme aims to prime Singapore’s next generation of actors and theatre practitioners through workshops that incorporate theory, practical theatrical training and stage skills.28

Mad Forest, a production by young & W!LD in 2007, was nominated Best Ensemble in the Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards in 2008. It marked the first time that a local theatre group’s youth division was nominated for the awards.29

List of productions30
2000: Emily of Emerald Hill
2000: An Occasional Orchid
2001: The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole & No Parking on Odd Days; An Occasional Orchid; The Woman in a Tree on the Hill; Emily of Emerald Hill; Blithe Spirit
2002: Emily of Emerald Hill; Animal Farm; Ang Tau Mui; Boeing Boeing; Rice Ball 2002: Starry Starry Night
2003: The Eleanor Wong Trilogy: Invitation to Treat; Rice Ball 2003: Red, White and W!ld; Animal Farm
2003: Cinderel-lah!
2004: Landmarks: Asian Boys Vol. 2; Animal Farm; Rice Ball 2004: Double Happiness; For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again; The Visit of the Tai Tai; Aladdin

2005: Boeing Boeing; Rice Ball 2005: Kampong Glam; Second Link: The Singapore-Malaysia Text Exchange; Oi! Sleeping Beauty!!
2006: Connect the Dots; The Magic Fundoshi; Rice Ball 2006: Some Enchanted Evening; Homesick; The Silence of the Kittens; By the Way; The Campaign to Confer the Public Service Star on JBJ; National History Class/Utama: Every Name in History is I; Salsa! Salsa! Salsa!; Sing Your Way Home; Second Link; Jack & the Bean-sprout!
2007: Blithe Spirit; Rice Ball 2007: Singapore A-go-go!; On Diversion Road (by young & W!LD); Happy Endings: Asian Boys Vol. 3; The Campaign to Confer the Public Service Star on JBJ; Mad Forest (by young & W!LD)

2008: Beauty World; The Hypochondriac (by young & W!LD); The Swordfish, then the Concubine; Angel-ism; Tree/House; The Last Temptation of Stamford Raffles; I am Queen; Apocalypse: LIVE!; Own Time Own Target; Blood Binds; Rice Ball 2008: Disco Rice Ball; Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
2009: The Importance of Being Earnest; Own Time Own Target; Rice Ball 2009: The Big Hair Ball; Beauty & the Beast
2010: Animal Farm; Family (by young & W!LD); Boeing Boeing; Unlike Some People (by young & W!LD); Rice Ball 2010: The Red Hot Chilli Padi Ball; Cinderel-lah!
2011: Swordfish+Concubine: The Fall of Singapura (by young & W!LD); Emily of Emerald Hill; Animal Farm; The Weight of Silk on Skin; Charged; Cooling-off Day; Family Outing; Nadirah; Rice Ball 2011: People’s Acting Party!; Aladdin
2012: Cooling-off Day; Romeo & Juliet; La Cage Aux Folles; Rice Ball 2012: Diamonds are Forever; Hansel and Gretel
2013: The Importance of Being Earnest; Cook a Pot of Curry; Dreamplay: Asian Boys Vol. 1; The Optic Trilogy; Rice Ball 2013: The (Very) Royal Ball; Jack & the Bean-sprout!
2014: The House of Bernarda Alba; The Importance of Being Earnest; Little Riots and Other Stories (by young & W!LD); Rice Ball 2014: Night Safari; Monkey Goes West
2015: Public Enemy; Geylang (by young & W!LD); Another Country; Hotel; The Importance of Being Earnest; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (by young & W!LD); Rice Ball 2015: Swinging Sexy Singapura!; The Emperor’s New Clothes
2016: When S#!t Hits the Fam (by young & W!LD); Hotel; Geylang; Riders Know When It’s Gonna Rain; Hawa; Let’s Get Back Together; Grandmother Tongue; GRC (Geng Rebut Cabinet); My Mother Buys Condoms; Rice Ball 2016: XXX – The Very W!LD Rice Ball; Monkey Goes West
2017: Crossings (by young & W!LD); La Cage Aux Folles; The Bald Soprano (by young & W!LD); Boeing Boeing; Rice Ball 2017: Once Upon a Time; Grandmother Tongue



Author
Alvin Chua



References
1. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). Artistic team. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/about/artistic-team/81-founding-artistic-director
2. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). W!LD RICE. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/about/wild-rice
3. Chew, D. (2006, August 2). He fills in the blanks. Today, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). Artistic team. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/about/artistic-team/81-founding-artistic-director
5. Chew, D. (2006, August 2). He fills in the blanks. Today, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Hong, X. (2005, November 28). Days of being wild. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). Emily of Emerald Hill. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/productions/60-emily-of-emerald-hill#about-the-show
8. Suhaila Sulaiman. (2002, February 18). WILD RICE paradise. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Suhaila Sulaiman. (2002, February 18). WILD RICE paradise. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). W!LD RICE. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/about/wild-rice
11. Chia, A. (2011, May 28). Man behind Wild Rice’s festival. The Straits Times, p. 2; Chia, A. (2010, May 6). Wild about Rice. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Chia, A. (2010, May 6). Wild about Rice. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Chia, A. (2009, January 3). Good shows still draw crowds. The Straits Times, p. 80. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). W!LD RICE. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/about/wild-rice; Chew, D. (2006, August 2). He fills in the blanks. Today, p. 34; Hong, X. (2006, August 22). Theatre fest drew 11,500. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tan, C. (2006, June 13). A leg up for theatre. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Nayar, P. (2006, February 17). New heights. The Business Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Hong, X. (2006, August 22). Theatre fest drew 11,500. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Chew, D. (2006, August 2). He fills in the blanks. Today, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Hong, X. (2006, August 22). Theatre fest drew 11,500. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Chia, A. (2008, September 1). Local dramas on target. The Straits Times, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Hong, X. (2006, August 22). Theatre Fest drew 11,500. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). W!LD RICE. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/about/wild-rice
23. Chia, A. (2008, July 10). Fresh & Wild. The Straits Times, p. 49; Chia, A. (2008, September 1). Local dramas on Target. The Straits Times, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2011, May 31). Man Investments endorses the Singapore Theatre Festival 2011. Retrieved 2017, October 19 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/images/doc/press/PR20110531.pdf
25. Tan, C. (2013, December 15). Risky decision pays off. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). Singapore Theatre Festival 2016. Retrieved 2017, October 19 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/productions/181-singapore-theatre-festival-16#about-the-plays
27. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). FIRST STAGE! Retrieved 2017, October 19 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/education/first-stage
28. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). Young & W!LD. Retrieved 2017, October 19 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/education/young-wild; Cheong, J. (2008, March 6). Days of being young & wild. The Straits Times, p. 70. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Cheong, J. (2008, March 6). Days of being young & wild. The Straits Times, p. 70. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. W!LD RICE Ltd. (2017). Past productions. Retrieved 2017, July 14 from W!LD RICE website: http://www.wildrice.com.sg/production/past-production



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Theaters--Singapore
Arts organisations
Arts>>Theatre>>Theatre direction and production
Theatre
Organisations>>Associations>>Arts Groups
Arts>>Performing Arts>>Theatre