Sisters & Senang: The Island Plays
- About the Playwright
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The Sisters Islands and Pulau Senang: two satellite islands off the coast of Singapore, small but rich in story. This volume brings together two remarkable plays by Jean Tay, Sisters and Senang, which explore these two islands through turbulent events in the 1960s.
Sisters: The Untold Stories of the Sisters Islands blends a real-life murder with creation myth. The play alternates between two stories: one of Mina and Lina, the two sisters upon which the myth of the Sisters Islands is supposedly based; and the other of the shocking case in 1965 of Jenny Cheok, killed by her boyfriend Sunny Ang, which also involved her half-sister Irene.
Senang covers the prison riots on Pulau Senang in 1963. The island was used for a bold experiment, led by Superintendent Daniel Dutton, an Irishman who believed he could reform the inmates through labour, and abolished the use of arms to police them. This is one man’s attempt to create a utopian penal colony, which tragically led to his violent end.
“Jean Tay is one of the most gifted playwrights I have come across in years.”
—Gaurav Kripalani, Artistic Director, Singapore Repertory Theatre
Jean Tay’s stage plays have been performed in Singapore, the US, the UK and Italy, and include The Shape of a Bird (2016), It Won’t Be Too Long: The Cemetery—Dusk (2015), Senang (2014), Sisters (2013), Boom (2008, 2009, 2012), Everything but the Brain (2005, 2007, 2013), Plunge (2000), The Knot (1999) and Water from the Well (1998). In addition, she has written the books for the musicals The Great Wall: One Woman’s Journey (2017), The Admiral’s Odyssey (2005), the NUS Centennial musical Man of Letters (2006), and children’s musical Pinocchio (2010).
Everything but the Brain and Boom (both published by Epigram Books) have been used as O-Level and N-Level literature texts for secondary school students. The Knot was awarded 1st prize for Action Theatre’s 10-minute Play Competition 2010 and selected as a finalist for the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 10-minute Play Contest. Tay has been nominated four times for Best Original Script for the Life! Theatre Awards, and won for Everything But the Brain in 2006. Her prose fiction has received honours as well: the 1997 Weston Undergraduate Prize for Fiction for “The Story”, as well as 1st and 3rd prizes for the National Arts Council’s Golden Point Award in 1995 and 2001, respectively.
Tay graduated in 1997 with a double-degree in creative writing and economics from Brown University, attended the month-long International Playwriting Residency in 2007 (organised by the Royal Court Theatre in London), and participated in LaMama’s International Playwrights’ Retreat in Umbria, Italy in 2010. She served as resident playwright at the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) from 2006–2009, and helmed SRT’s Young Company Writing Programme from 2012–2016. She was also involved in the 2015 NDP: Majulah Singapura, Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, and the 2017 Home Team Show and Festival as scriptwriter.
Currently, she teaches playwriting as an adjunct lecturer at Nanyang Technological University, and conducts playwriting masterclasses at the Victorian College of the Arts (University of Melbourne) for students in the Master’s of Writing for Performance programme. She is also the founding Artistic Director of Saga Seed Theatre, set up in 2015 to bring Singaporean stories to the stage, and to provide a platform to showcase and nurture local talent.
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 224
Year Published: 2018
Size: 145mm x 210mm