Conversation with Playwright, Isaac Lim

We spoke to Isaac Lim, playwright of Between Consciousness which won the Open Category of TheatreWorks’ 24-Hour Playwriting Competition 2015. Developed as an engagement programme by TheatreWorks, Writing & Community Programme aims to nurture emerging playwrights and develop new plays.

Through the conversation, Isaac shared his thoughts and experiences on the programme, as well as how this programme has helped as a playwright. Between Consciousness is currently in rehearsals and will be presented as Theatreworks’ annual Performance Tour to the South East District from February to March 2016.

 TheatreWorks’ Writing & Community Programme is an excellent stepping stone, to not only bring their voice out there, but also for the community to interact, know of the talents, and connect with the arts.

– Isaac Lim Jue Hao, Playwright of Between Consciousness

TW Between con ad 3 copy


1 Tell us more about yourself. How did you begin writing plays and what prompted you to take part in the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition?

I am Isaac, an undergraduate majoring in Theatre Studies at NUS. I have always loved theatre and drama since taking drama classes in Primary and Secondary schools. I love watching local theatre productions because the issues tackled and presentational styles are so varied. I feel that there are so many things for me to unravel.

I do like to speak to myself in different voices, and I may be a little mental, but all the better to help me in my creative writing. I learned from watching and attempted to pen down words to form sentences, and then short plays were born. My first play in my Junior College days surprisingly won me the 2nd Prize at TheatreWorks’ Singapore Young Dramatist Award in 2003. Then on, I took part in the annual 24-Hour Playwriting Competition by the company, and that has become an annual writing retreat of sorts to push my creative writing. Until 2015… When Between Consciousness was born…

2 How has TheatreWorks’ Writing & Community Programme encouraged you to continue writing plays?

My passion for writing was actually developed during TheatreWorks Writers’ Laboratory days, when I got to develop works with other writers, under the care of mentors Tan Tarn How and Dr Robin Loon. Fast forward the few years, that was the time when I got more focused on wanting to further hone my craft in playwriting and start a career of sorts in theatre. The competition is a fantastic platform to generate new works, and “discover” new writings (rather shameless for me to say this), on top of being a challenge for writing enthusiast. Sometimes, the competition time is the only opportunity for me in that year to write a short play.

I have also had the opportunity last year to be part of Writing From The Heart, and learn very special skills in pushing emotions to the extremes to force out exciting characters, under the tutelage of renown playwright, Tony Perez. The short writing workshop was eye opening for me, because that man literally made every one of the participants cry, and yet thank him for the experience. I feel that all my characters in my plays thereafter had a more human touch, more genuine “feel”.

Overall, the programme provides excellent opportunities for writing and expression.

3 Do you think it is important for TheatreWorks’ Writing & Community Programme to continue develop and nurture writing talents in the community? Why so?

Definitely. There are many many many young people out there who loves to express themselves through theatre as a medium, and TheatreWorks’ Writing & Community Programme is an excellent stepping stone, to not only bring their voice out there, but also for the community to interact, know of the talents, and connect with the arts.

4 From participating in the competition, to winning and having your play developed and staged, can you describe your feelings throughout this process?

It is not my first time taking part in the competition, but my first time winning a prize. For me, as mentioned, I (already) don’t see it as a competition, but an annual writing retreat to force myself to write something with the creative stimuli and the new environment. Every year’s competition is different, and last year’s one at the Institute of Mental Health was, for the lack of a better word, crazy. I wrote a play that is really fun (I hope), and when I got to know that it was the winning entry, I was shocked. It is an achievement for myself. The second “shock” came when I was approached by Tay Tong (TheatreWorks’ Managing Director) who told me that the company was keen on developing the work. I seriously never thought this piece could be staged because it is really wild. But I’m glad I entrusted the company with my writing, and look forward to working with the director and actors to bring the words alive. I cannot wait to see it on stage, and am more than excited to share the stories with the audience.

5 In your opinion, what is the impact of presenting new plays in the community?

I always believe in the power of art and community. This is a multi-directional approach, bringing fresh works and introducing ideas to community audiences, and communicating to and with the people, the ideas and the art, engaging people in the discourse about the issues that concern them. New plays can and will grow in the community, and I look forward to the exchange.


Stay tuned to the blog for an upcoming video interview with Isaac. He will tell us more about the play, Between Consciousness !

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