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20 Oct 2004

The Visit of the Tai Tai, Oct 22-31

Famed director and actor Ivan Heng (who also plays the lead role as the Tai Tai) shares his thoughts about money, meanings and messages in W!LD RICE'S The Visit of the Tai Tai.

Producer: W!LD RICE

Time: 22 to 31 October 2004

Venue: Victoria Theatre

Claire Lee Kwan Yin left her hometown at 17 to seek her fortune and found it in a man three times her age, a certain Mr. Zachanassian who owned a navy of oil tankers, racing stables and millions more in cash. He left her everything when he died, and she became the richest, and consequentially, the most fabulous and powerful woman in the world. Today, she divides her time between mahjong, massages and collecting husbands for a hobby. She has had nine husbands and counting, and believes they are good only for display purposes.

What won't you do for money? And we mean lots of money?
Ivan: Erm, how much are we talking about here? Please call my agent.

Credit Schemes, bane or boon?
Ivan: Most definitely a boon. That is, until the bill arrives.

What do you think is the role of money in society? Has it changed much?
Ivan: It's used to separate the haves from the have-nots, and that hasn't changed from the beginning.

How is this adaptation changed from the original?
Ivan: Part of W!LD RICE's mission is to revise and update the world's favourite classics for today's audiences. I believe this makes these plays more accessible, immediate and in the case of this black comedy, sharper and funnier. I've relocated the town of Durrenmatt's "Gullen" to "Saitang", the "the most wretched, most miserable pimple on the map". As for the characters, you just might see and hear your self, your Mayor, your doctor, your neighbourhood policeman, your teacher, your priest and your provision shop owner.

The most difficult and the most fun part about playing a woman?
Ivan: Contrary to popular belief, the wigs, the corsets, the diets, the shaving, plucking and preening isn't the most difficult part, although it can be rather fun.

For me, the most difficult part is also the most fun part. I am enjoying getting under the skin of Claire Zachanassian; understanding what makes her tick, her wants, wishes, hurts, ambitions and desires is a challenge.

Which Tai Tais have inspired you? Who is your favourite Tai Tai?
Ivan: As with any acting role, inspiration is a combination of observation and imagination. At this moment in time, all tai tais are a source of inspiration. You will find me hanging out at the Hilton Shopping Gallery or at the Country Clubs watching and learning. As for my favourite Tai Tai, it will have to be Miss Piggy - that girl knows what she wants and goes and gets it.

Are there underlying messages?
Ivan: I've always thought this play would speak to Singaporeans because it's about money. And depending on how much money you have, or how much you are in debt - you could find it ostentatiously funny or terribly bleak.

Who should watch it?
Ivan: Everyone should. It's a very funny, entertaining and meaningful night out at the theatre. If you are interested in seeing the best that Singapore theatre has to offer, you will find this in the sterling ensemble of no less than 17 of Singapore's finest and most well-loved actors, including Lim Kay Siu, who plays the love of Claire's life.

The Visit of the Tai Tai is one of the highlights of the Embassy of Switzerland's Drrenmatt Festival: "A Swiss Citizen of the World."

The Visit of the Tai Tai
Written by Friedrich Durrenmatt Adapted by Ivan Heng
Directed by Ivan Heng, with Krishen Jit
With Ivan Heng as the Tai Tai, Lim Kay Siu as Anthony Seow, Tony Quek, Christina Sergeant, Gerald Chew, Jonathan Lim, Gene Sha Rudyn, Noorlinah Mohamed, Chua Enlai, Gani Karim, Ben Matthews, Chermaine Ang, Benjamin Ng, Fanny Kee, Juwanda Hassim, Gordon Choy, Ace Mah & Alecia Kim Chua
Venue: Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place
Dates/Time: Oct 22-31, 8pm/ Sat - Sun 3pm
Tickets: $18-$58 (excluding $2 SISTIC fee)


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