The Shape of bird
Jean Tay | Saga Seed Theatre (Singapore)
15 January 2016, 8pm
16 January 2016, 3pm & 8pm
Esplanade Recital Studio
90 minutes with no intermission
Within an isolated cell, a writer tries to retain her imagination and freedom by writing stories and letters to her daughter, even as she resists attempts by her jailor to force a written confession out of her.
Meanwhile, within the magical world that the writer creates, her young heroine, Ann, similarly defies the authorities to put her stories on the page and bring her brother back to life. However, as pressures on the writer intensify in the real world, she is forced to choose between her stories and her own daughter.
Before long, the boundaries between the two worlds dissolve, and events go spinning out of her control in both her real and imagined life.
Written by Jean Tay (Everything but the Brain, Boom) and co-directed by US-based Singaporean theatre/filmmaker Mei Ann Teo (Lyrics from Lockdown) and Benjamin Ho (Paper Monkey Theatre), the workshop production of The Shape of a Bird evokes a magical world of warring birds and cicadas through the creative use of puppetry, brought to life by performers Tan Kheng Hua, Brendon Fernandez, Jean Toh and Thomas Pang.
Developed in residence at Centre 42.
Jean Tay has been nominated thrice for Best Original Script at The Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards, winning for Everything but the Brain in 2006. Her plays Everything but the Brain and Boom have been published by Epigram Books, and Boom is currently used as an 'O' and 'N' Level literature text.
"Jean Tay is one of Singapore's most important and well-regarded theatrical voices, and her work has appealed to me with its intelligence and insight. This play has been a long time in the making, and marks a very sharp turn in her creative journey. Previously considered "unstageable" due to Jean's unbridled imagination, we are so proud to help make this staging possible along with a powerful creative and performing team she has gathered."
Relationship to Art and the Animal
In The Shape of a Bird, the Bird becomes a potent symbol for the power of imagination and stories, particularly in a world where speech and thought are tightly controlled and original ideas and stories suppressed for fear of their negative influence on society.
Meanwhile, the cicadas in the play represent the oppressive forces of authority, with their insistence on unity at all cost, even at the expense of individual thought and imagination.
When taken to their literal extreme, these animal metaphors become flesh and bone, and they provide a vivid and dramatic depiction of the struggle of one individual's imagination versus the oppression of the masses.