Behind the Scenes: MAN, a play by KreatiV OutBox

MAN is KreatiV OutBox‘s newest theatre production – a personal tale of two brothers caring for their elderly wheelchair-bound mother. It explores strained relationships, vulnerabilities, and emotions, and promises to be an emotionally charged performance with a spine-chilling plot!

MAN poster

Peatix goes behind the scenes with Izad Omar and Jay Jamali, Director and Assistant Producer of MAN respectively. They candidly give us a sneak peak into their theatre preferences, thoughts on the arts scene, the hustle and bustle behind theatre making and shares tips with organisers of theatre!

Fun Facts about the Organiser

What is the first play you’ve watched? How was it?

Izad: Oh Gawd! That must be like ages ago. Let me think… that would probably be in 1990’s – Lanterns Never Go Out (The Necessary Stage). I was in secondary school and there was an outing organized by my English Lit. Dept. I don’t know what drew me into this but the beauty of that performance captivated me. With the lights, movement of the players in silhouette… THAT was the stuff that drew me in. At the end of the performance, each of us were given a sticky note, to express our dream and pasted it on the board that they use for the whole run of that production. And I wrote, “I want to be part of The Necessary Stage”. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen! But I did make my own way into the scene… somehow.

Jay: Ok this is embarrassing. I didn’t watch my first play until I was studying in Lasalle, which was only 4 years ago. It was “H is for Hantu” by Stages at the Alliance Française Theatre. The play really rocked! It was basically about how people dealt with the past, and yes with ghostly characters. Genius!

Do you have a preference for a particular genre of theatre? What would it be?

Izad: Nope, I don’t. I like everything that is performed on stage. Yes, this may sound a bit odd but I do not limit myself to watch certain shows and disregard the rest. I prefer to treat it like a buffet spread; where you get to choose everything you want and not limit yourself to only one or two. I like to question myself when I’m watching a show or maybe laugh out crazy watching another and be mesmerized by the use of set and lights for a non-verbal movement piece or maybe just sit still and engage the whole experience that the production team has created. So, imagine the things you may have missed if you limit yourself to only a certain genre. Those above are my learning points. That’s where I learn what suits the public and what doesn’t.

Jay: Yes, I tend to gravitate towards musicals. Something about them just fascinates me. It’s how they act, sing, and dance on stage – all at once! I was lucky enough to catch the award- winning musical, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in Sydney a couple of years back. Amazing production featuring personified drag queens on stage belting to hits from Madonna, Kylie and Gaga – all in 6-inch heels!

We love that MAN’s written and directed by locals! On the flip side, there are sentiments that creativity in Singapore is stifled by our education system and social structure. What is your take on that?

Jay: There’s nothing majorly wrong with our education system. It’s concrete, reliable and gets us to where we need to in life. We don’t have the luxury where our local arts scene is as successful as the western nations but I do believe that exposure to the arts is important. In order for this to happen, you will first need to have interest and passion for the arts.

Izad: Yeap, I agree with Jay on that. Interest and passion plays a big part in shaping up our Arts industry. It is something you have to experience and be engaged in. Besides most of us are ready to embark into something much more mind boggling and with teachers, educators and artiste turning to schools imparting knowledge, sharing experiences, introducing the Arts and its values, that stereotypical notion will soon be a thing of the past.

MAN bros

Sneak Pea-k!

MAN sounds to be an emotionally engaging play that transcends across cultures. What are the underlying themes explored in it?

Izad: MAN will explore the meaning of love on different levels, phases and layers. It is a heart wrenching play that develops from the love between siblings right into the question of difference in receiving the love from parents. Let’s face it, love from our parent is always there no matter how many wrinkles and shots of Botox we’ve had on our faces to hide our real age but there will always be a time when we want our parents by our side and the whole world just passes by in silence when that moment happens.

Jay: Like what the title suggested, MAN is about the true meaning of being a man. A man of the family, a man who’s taking care of his mother, a man to his wife, a man to his brother. How can one be that perfect man for everyone in his life? This play explores that. Also, the brothers’ names are Azman and Rosman, so naturally MAN became the logical name for the play!

What is the biggest learning point you’ve taken away from organising MAN? Why is it important?

Izad: This is the first production of KreatiV OutBox where we’ve taken down a notch on the ‘fun’ scale in theatre. We have always been known to stage easy-to-digest performances for the public. We aim to be the gateway for new audiences into the great realms of theatre scene in Singapore. As we steer ourselves to do MAN, I must say I was a little skeptical on the new approach that KreatiV OutBox is taking but somehow I realize that we have to be real to our audience. We don’t laugh everyday you know, we do cry at night too. So let’s be real, show them that we are real enough to be taken seriously. So, we are eager to see how our followers will react to this change.

Jay: My biggest learning point in this was how to overcome skepticisms not only by the greater society but within the local arts community as well. As a small theatre company in the arena of Malay Theatre, it was a challenge to get everyone’s attention at first. This is good as it usually filters out the dedicated ones from the wannabes.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of publicity for theatric events? How can it be overcome?

Izad: Getting away with the impression that Kreativ OutBox is a theatre group staging production for Malays only. We are not an ethnocentric bunch that stage productions meant for only one group of people. Our production is meant for people from all walks of life and all races. We want to see Chinese, Indians and Caucasians in our audience.

Jay: Publicity in theatric events in Singapore is very saturated. Often, you’re up against the big boys like your Pangdemonium, TheatreWorks, Dream Academy etc. It’s all about harnessing your niche factor and identifying your target audience. If you can develop a formula to achieve this, you’re pretty much on the right track. Oh, and of course publicity platforms like PeaTiX blog goes a long way too!

Are there any pointers you’d like to offer to organisers of theatre or arts and culture in general?

Izad: Know WHAT you want to do and WHEN you want to do it.

Jay: Gosh! I don’t think I have that much of an experience to start dishing out pointers. What I will say is that you will need balls of steel to not only survive but also do well in Malay Theatre.

MAN 2 bros

Event details
Where? The Arts House, Play Den

When? 25th and 26th October 2013, 8pm

How much? Tickets at $25, get them here

Our target audience is anyone who might identify with the characters of MAN. They may include those who are married or siblings caring for their parents.

“We are not an ethnocentric bunch that stage productions meant for only one group of people. We want to see Chinese, Indians and Caucasians in our audience.” – Izad Omar

At the heart of it, the emotions felt and relationships explored transcends across cultures. A Malay play with English subtitles accompanying it enables others to understand and relate empathetically. So if you’re not playing “catch me if you can” at the Zombie Run over the weekend, this is definitely a great one to catch instead! You may get your tickets here now.

About KreatiV OutBox
KreatiV OutBox is a Singaporean non-profit theatre company formed by a dedicated group of theatre enthusiasts. With a diverse background in theatre making, they’re committed to creating timeless and socially relevant plays that are a reflection of the local community.

MAN kreativ outbox

Image Credits: KreatiV OutBox

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Claire Ding

Claire Ding is the Community Manager at ticketing platform Peatix in Singapore. She runs a community event for organisers, Backstage Pass , where organisers connect with others and learn tips on event management. Quite the thrill-seeker, Claire’s gone skydiving, bungee jumping, and enjoys anything that puts her on edge (quite literally), it’s no wonder she’s in the business of events with never a dull moment!