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Artist Profile: William C Kovacsik – Award winning playwright’s first play in Asia to be performed at Short+Sweet Singapore 2009
Singapore, 19 June 2009 – Short+Sweet attracts an extraordinary range of artists, from absolute theatre novices to internationally recognised playwrights such as William C Kovacsik.
Currently teaching at NYU TischAsia, Mr Kovacsik’s plays have been performed all across America. His play, The Masrayana won the Joseph Jefferson Citation Award as Best New Play in Chicago for 2005-2006. Lewis J. Stadlen (a two-time Tony Award nominee) starred in Mr Kovacsik’s play, Slice of Immortality in 1999.
Short+Sweet is very pleased to stage his first play in Asia, A Mighty Fortress. It will be performed during Week 3 of the English Top 30 plays from 8 to 12 July at the Flexible Performance Space, LASALLECollege of the Arts.
Please find below an interview with Mr Kovacsik.
Is this the first time a play of yours has been staged in Singapore or Asia?
Yes. Although I’ve written 24 plays that have been seen all over America, this is the first time that any of my work has been done outside the United States, so I’m really looking forward to see how Singaporeans respond to this piece.
What is your play, A Mighty Fortress about?
It deals with four Australian women imprisoned by the Japanese after the invasion in 1942. They have to make a decision about which of them will survive, and which will not. It’s the kind of choice that was faced by so many people during the occupation – a choice between principles and self-preservation. It’s amazing that, in the most difficult circumstances, so many people rise to the challenge and choose to stay true to the best part of themselves.
I chose to write a play featuring four women because the theatre needs more good roles for actresses – there are about four times as many actresses in this world as there are male performers, and those women are competing for a much smaller number of roles. And so often, women bear the heaviest burden during times of social and political upheaval. So, for both pragmatic and historical reasons, it seemed appropriate to write about four women in this terrible situation.
Why did you decide to write a play for Short & Sweet?
It’s always important to me to become involved in the local theatre community wherever I am. I’ve lived in lots of places, and everywhere I go, the people who work in the theatre are always on the cutting edge;
they’re the people who are concerned with social justice, who see the real truth about what makes us human, what binds the human race together. I always want to be part of that movement, to extend the ways in which we see ourselves and each other, and to increase the respect we have for each other. Since Short & Sweet is such an important part of the arts culture here in Singapore, writing a play for this festival seemed like an obvious choice. Plus, I had an idea for a short play about Singaporean history that I thought would be a good fit for Short & Sweet.
What do you think about the ten-minute play format?
Anyone who’s tried it will tell you that it’s one of the hardest forms of writing there is. You have to tell a story with a beginning, middle and an end, and you have to do it all in ten minutes. Ten-minute plays are increasingly popular among theatres all over the world, because they allow the audience to experience the work of many different playwrights over the course of an evening, and they’re also generally easy to produce – most ten-minute plays have small casts and very simple technical demands. For the writer, however, they’re a real test of skill. Saying something meaningful in just ten minutes is a tough task.
What do you feel is your most notable success as a playwright?
In 2005, my play The Masrayana was presented in Chicago, and it won the Joseph Jefferson Citation Award as Best New Play in Chicago for that year. Knowledgeable theatre artists will tell you that Chicago has some of the most vital and original theatre in the USA. So when the play was successful with audiences and critics in Chicago, I was immensely pleased.
Has being in Singapore inspired you to write about subjects you otherwise would not have if you had stayed in the USA?
Absolutely! I knew a little bit about Singapore’s history… but after I arrived, I really investigated it in more depth, and that led to the subject of my play. I learned about the terrible treatment that Singaporeans received at the hands of the Kempeitai, the Japanese military police. Although in the past I’ve written plays that dealt with other cultures, I don’t think I would have written this particular play had I not spent some time living here.
I think …it’s possible that the East and the West will find more ways in which they recognize and respect the elements that serve as a bridge between different cultures. There are stories that the East has to tell, and that the West needs to hear. We need to listen to each other.
SHORT+SWEET SINGAPORE 2009 SEASON
Short+Sweet and The Arts House, in collaboration with LASALLECollege of the Arts, present:
English Top 30
24 June - 12 July | 8pm
Flexible Performance Space, LASALLECollege of the Arts
1 - 5 July | 8pm
Play Den, The Arts House
Short+Sweet and The Arts House, in collaboration with Esplanade Theatres on The Bay, present:
Gala Finals – Best 10 plays from the Season!
16 - 18 July | 8pm
Esplanade Studio Theatre
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
*Concessions for senior citizens, NSF and students
English Top 30 & Mandarin 10
The Arts House Box Office
1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
Hotline: +65 6332 6919
Tickets from Esplanade Box Office and SISTIC authorised agents
SISTIC Hotline: +65 6348 5555
Group bookings of 20 or more, call 6828 8388
Held annually in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Short+Sweet has staged over 1,000 plays and been watched by more than 20,000 people across the globe.
Featuring the best ten-minute plays written by local and international writers, Short+Sweet is a THEATRE DEVELOPMENT PLATFORM that gives emerging artists a chance to professionally showcase their talents both to the public as well as to top theatre industry professionals, helping to foster future employment opportunities.
Short+Sweet is currently expanding its network to include London, Paris and Beijing. A regional tour of the best plays from Singapore is planned for 2010.
The Arts House at the Old Parliament
Occupying the 181-year old building which was the former Parliament House and Singapore’s first Court House, The Arts House is a multidisciplinary arts centre that offers visitors a broad spectrum of activities ranging from contemporary arts & entertainment events to lifestyle and food & beverage options. Since its opening in March 2004, The Arts House has also been championing the Singapore arts & creative scene, playing consultative and developmental roles in bridging the connections between the arts and artists with various audiences including public agencies, private corporations and individual supporters of the arts as well.
With a strong intent to promote and showcase Singapore artists and their artworks locally and internationally, The Arts House has introduced numerous initiatives like The Business Times Budding Artists Fund that provides young children with opportunities to engage in, learn and showcase their artistic talents, as well as the Spotlight series which encourage artistic, business and humanitarian exchanges and exploration of new partnerships between Singapore and her counterparts in emerging / transitional markets in the world. Amongst other endeavours that The Arts House has ventured into, retail concepts like The Shop (Singapore Design) and Earshot (Singapore | Music |Books | Film) have also provided multiple platforms for Singapore artists to widen their reach and distribution networks.
The Arts House is managed by The Old Parliament House Limited, a not-for-profit full-service arts management company limited by guarantee. For further information, please visit www.theartshouse.com.sg
For media queries, please contact:
Manager, Marketing & Communications
The Arts House (Managed by The Old Parliament House Limited)
1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
Tel: +65 6332 6915