Looking back – Gardens by the Bay

In case you missed out our show on the 25th of May, here are some pictures as a quick recap for you. If you want to see more, visit our Gallery

Our opening act for the show! Thank you Baracuda Batucada!

Our opening act for the show! Thank you Baracuda Batucada!

The dilemma starts from Jenny's unusual offer to Jamal and Maslindah.

The dilemma starts from Jenny’s unusual offer to Jamal and Maslindah.

We love seeing smiles on our audience's faces: from youths to adults!

We love seeing smiles on our audience’s faces: from youths to adults!

Our audience having a good time watching the performance.

Our audience having a good time watching the performance.

Well, feeling like you missed out a good show?

No worries, you can always visit us at: www.theatreworks.org.sg to find out more about our future productions or join our mailing list.And here is an even better news: the 16th annual 24-hour Playwriting Competition will happen this August! 
We would like to thank the playwright, directors, cast and crew for making this happen and the audience for sticking around and being supportive.
Take care and hope to see you soon!

Thank you!

From the production team, we’ll like to express our thanks for the success of this year’s TheatreWorks Writers’ Lab Community Tour which staged Of Babies (not really) and People! 

Our partner, South East Community Development Council for their continuous support of this community programme.

Our Engagement Programme Sponsors, LEE Foundation and Kuo Pao Kun Foundation.

Our Venue Partners, Peoples’ Association, Marine Parade CC, Mountbatten CC, Siglap South CC, Gardens by the Bay,  Library@Esplanade, National Library Board: Public Libraries.

Our Percussion Band, Baracuda Batucada for a resounding opening and closing act for our last performance held at Gardens by the Bay.

Last but not least, YOU our audience who have lent your support in many ways!!


Wish to be informed about our future programmes? Join our mailing list and stay updated simply by writing in to brendan@theatreworks.org.sg

Building Strong Friendships

Here’s some tips to building and maintaining strong friendships:

1. Spend time with people

It could sound strange, but most of the people who complain about loneliness don’t even realize that things couldn’t be the other way around because they barely see people. Try to visualize how many people you get in contact with in an ordinary day. If it is just the three guys closest to your cubical, there is a problem.

Your job may be stressing and tiring and at a long day’s night all you want to do is to lay down in front of TV. But keep in mind that an idle life will not only make you unhealthy and depressive, you can also lose the friends you currently have, let alone making new ones.

Join in a social club or the nearby gym; try shifting your reading routine to the library or your daily work-out to a recreational space in your neighborhood… spend more time amongst people.

2. Be positive

It could be hard to cheer everyone up all the time. Neither do you have to be the funniest guy ever. Just be positive and show people that you’re content to be with them. The more rewarding they find you to be around, the more they will spend time with you.

3. Be a conversation starter

Being around people and having a cute smile are good to start with, but you can’t make friends, unless you talk to them. Don’t wait for them to make the first step. If you go one step further to them, it is very likely that they will approach you. Who knows, you can be missing a lasting friend due to the lack of a “hello”.

Some tips;

  • Make eye-contact when you talk.
  • Keep the conversation light.
  • A good way to start a conversation is commenting about your immediate environment.
  • Try to ask questions which he/she can answer in detail.
  • Ask for a get-together. It could be just for coffee, or some occasion related to your common hobby.

4. Be a good friend

Don’t behave the way you don’t want people to behave when they are with you. In friendship, just in other forms of social relations, things are reciprocal. Be reliable, trust-worthy and kind. Be a good-listener and give advices when they ask for it. Above all, be there for them.

5. Choose right people to make friends with

Be sure about what you seek in a good friend and with what type of people you feel happy and comfortable. The tallest guy in the basketball team, or the most popular girl in office could be cool to hang out with, but that doesn’t make them the right candidates for a lasting friendship. Make sure that the person you invest your time –at least- is kind and understanding to you.

One of the main themes in Babies is friendship. Jamal, Maslindah and Jenny are great friends despite all their differences and that, for me, is one of the great things about this play. Friendships like that don’t come about easily and should be cherished and maintained despite disagreements and fallouts.



Our last show happening this sat…

Don’t miss your chance to catch the last show for Of Babies (not really) and People at Gardens by the Bay, Supertree Grove this saturday, 25 May 2013 at 6.30pm!

Also let the exciting sounds of percussion band, Baracuda Batucada lead your way to the performance. The band plays from 6.00pm at various venues!

See you there!

Flyer Front

Making tough decisions?

Written by Wanvipa
One of the aspects that “Of Babies (not really) and people” tackled on, is about making tough choices in life: For Jamal, it’s between the social/religious obligations and the loyalty he has for his wife; for Maslindah, it is the torn feeling between suggesting her husband to accept Jenny’s offer and wanting him for her only.

We might not encounter dilemma like the one in “Of babies (not really) and people” often, but that does not mean, we do not have moments in life when we need to make tough decisions!!! What do we do then? Well, we do not have the ultimate answer for you here, but do look at the following suggestions we found and probably you might have a hint of what to do next!


1. Be patient with yourself!

In other words, do not get stressed. Well, it might seem to be an impossible thing to do, but do try to minimal the stress level. Stress can be inevitable, but remember that it’s also your choice to make the journey positive.


Different people have different ways to relax their mind and organize their thoughts: they read, they exercise, they garden, you name it. It is your turn to pick something that gives you peace in mind, and do it. The positive experience will heal your feeling and you will be able to get back up. Once you are back up and confident with yourself, you will be able to go on with the next step.


2. Take your time!!!

Yes, break time and healing time are over. But it does not mean you have to rush it – to the point where you have absolutely no idea what’s going on. Take a reasonable amount of time and think thoroughly about the situation and all the possible outcomes (but also be aware that life might take you to another unexpected path) The more problematic the situation is, the more cautious you need to be. A good understanding of the issue will give you confidence.


3. Be rational but never forget to listen to your instinct and feelings.

One of the factors/reasons why it’s hard for us to make a decision is that we do not know what we want – when it is so hard to just choose one thing over another. So it is so important to compromise between all the clues that are given – both internally and externally. Return to the basic things if you have to: for example, listen to what your-inner-self has to say because sometimes we forgot what we already know, or want.

Once you already have your answer, you will know what to do. Remember, not making a decision is already making a decision – and it can be a good or bad thing.


4. To mean well.

The thing is: sometimes when we are carried away with the work and practical factors, we forgot that there are other people who are involved in our lives. To mean well may not get what you initially wanted (and it depends on what you want, really!), but at the end of the day, you know that your decision does not effect anyone in a negative way – and there is no loss in that.

Is this choice good for me? Is this choice good for my family? Then listen to what your heart says.

-Andrew J. Kelley


5. You are not alone!

Yes, it is a very cliché line – but does not mean that it’s not true. The process of making the right decisions can be a long and tough one, and it would be normal if you feel helpless and alone. But never be discouraged by difficulties. Remember that not only that you are not alone, there are many people out there who are in worse dilemmas then yours. Be happy, be grateful and be sympathized with others!


Here are 2 stories we would like to share with you:

A couple decided to abandon, even offered money to the surrogate mother once they found out that their child was seriously ill. This is the story about how the surrogate mother, Crystal Kelly, fought for the life of the baby she was carrying for 9 months: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/04/health/surrogacy-kelley-legal-battle

And here is a story about Sophia, a social worker having to deal with plenty of child abuse and neglect cases and each time, she is the one who makes the decision of these children’s lives: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/the-saddest-dilemma-20130223-2ey2k.html




Entry posted by A Yagnya, Assistant Director 

In Singapore, the total fertility rate (TFR) – which measures the average number of children that a woman would bear in her lifetime – has fallen to an all-time low of 1.16. This is way below the replacement level of 2.1.

Unfortunately, this state of affairs is one seen in many developed countries. “As the population becomes more educated, there is a change of values and priorities. Career achievements and lifestyle desires take precedence over other issues. Starting a family takes a backseat and having children is seen as a sacrifice,” explained Dr Loi.

Then there’s the question of fertility.

Fertility problems may arise due to problems in either the female or male reproductive systems, or sometimes in both.


1. Age

With Singapore’s economic success, more and more couples are putting their career first, marrying later and starting their family at an older age compared to their parents’ generation.

2. Work Life balance

Social economic factors also play a part. With a busy work schedule, increasingly couples may find less time to spend with each other or may be too tired after work to try to conceive during their fertile period. Sometimes one partner is not even in Singapore because of work commitments.

3. Housing

Housing is also a factor. Most couples are unwilling to start a family unless they can find a place of their own to stay once they are married and with high property prices, many are delaying marriage and starting a family until they can afford a home.

4. Expectations

Lastly with better education and a higher standard of living, many young Singaporeans are also getting increasingly more particular about choosing their life partner which in turn leads to more unmarried singles amongst our population.

All of these mentioned developments are contributing to Singapore’s low birth rate.



SOMETIMES, nature needs a little help from science when it comes to making babies. And in Singapore, the number of babies arriving with the aid of technology is burgeoning. In 2009, 1,158 babies were born of mothers who used Assisted Reproduction (AR) treatments. That is an eye-popping 44 per cent jump from the 802 babies born this way in 2007, the year MOH started tracking these figures.

Is youth really a factor in fertility?

It is certainly true that younger women have a better ovarian reserve i.e. better number of healthy eggs, and are less likely to have problems conceiving. But they may also encounter difficulty if they have had multiple sexual partners previously and suffered from sexually transmitted infections resulting in blocked fallopian tubes.

What are the best ways for a couple to improve their fertility and their chances of conceiving?

They should start trying for a family as soon as they are ready as age has a major impact on the success of fertility treatment. A healthy diet and lifestyle are always beneficial.

Couples should:

• Maintain a normal weight, exercise and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and antioxidants

• Stop smoking – smoking impairs sperm quality and female smokers are 1.6 times more likely to be infertile

• Limit alcohol intake to two drinks per day

• Use lubricants (if they use them) which will not hinder conception

Women should:

• Limit coffee intake to one cup a day; high levels of caffeine are associated with decreased fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage

• Take folic acid to prevent certain birth defects

Men should:

• Wear loose-fitting undergarments

• Avoid extremely hot temperatures, such as hot tubs or saunas

What are the chances like for women over 35 to conceive and give birth to a healthy baby?

The likelihood of conceiving falls from 20% a month in a woman’s late 20s to 8% in the late 30s. The likelihood of conceiving in one year falls from 86% to 65% respectively. Even the success rate of artificial reproductive treatment is not spared and pregnancy rates fall with increasing age from over 40% in women less than 35 years to just 10% in women over 40 years.

Women under the age of 35 years have about a 15% chance of miscarriage while those 35-45 yrs old have a 20-35% chance of miscarriage. As the risk of foetal abnormalities increases with age, it is important for women to see an obgyn early in their pregnancy and to undergo the various antenatal screening investigations available if they wish to know their risks.

What’s your take on alternative therapies for fertility?

Stress may play a part in affecting fertility, especially if it leads to tiredness and a decreased libido. So couples should look into their own lives to find time to give their minds and bodies a respite from the stresses of daily life. If they feel more relaxed and happier, they will be healthier overall and that may certainly help them become more “productive”. So as long as the alternative therapies help reduce their stress levels, they may be beneficial in that sense.

Our Assistant Director, Yagnya gives her personal take on this issue:

Looking through a lot of information on the internet, the newspapers and also speaking to people I’ve known, there are MANY situations in which couples or individuals might want children and are unable to have them. Sometimes, it’s age, sometimes its a medical problem with either the man or the woman, sometimes it’s marital status or even sexual orientation. Whatever the case, the fact that they want a child but can’t have one does not make the situation any less painful. Especially with so many campaigns going on to encourage couples to have children, there would be this constant reminder of your inability. I can’t begin to imagine how painful it must be for many of them.
But the world we live in today is advancing in terms of technology. Things that we thought of as impossible several years ago is a norm today. So I’d like to think that despite all the challenges that many of these couples face, even if there might be no way to help them now, there will always be something new coming up in the next year or two. SOMETHING to give hope.
We’re at a stage in life where we are being presented with so many options and there’re no one right way of going about it. If reproductive surgery doesn’t work out there’s IVF or AI. If that doesn’t work out, there’s surrogacy. If THAT doesn’t work for you, there’s adoption. One look into a the internet and more than one option turns up. People can choose the method that suits them best.
While most heterosexual couples might prefer natural reproduction, I like to think of these methods as aids to those who are unable to have the children they want. It might take them a longer time to have a child, but hey, at the end I’m sure the child would prove to be worth the wait if the try various methods and prove to be successful.





Our Audiences Speak!

Let’s hear from our audiences, about the staging of Of Babies (not really) and People!

“The performance resonated with me as it made me think about how religion can
confront with modernization.”

“…With this play, the topic of surrogacy became more personal and real as it
was spoken through characters, and not facts I have heard from the internet.”

“…A play that captures the deeply personal choice and side of having children is
a breath of fresh air…In a country where babies are increasingly depersonalised,
the ethical side of surrogacy and personal dilemma behind child-bearing
resonates deeply with me.” – Hu Fangda

“I liked that certain aspects of this issue made me uncomfortable… Interesting
dichotomy between the tradition/religious fraternity and liberal people
represented.” – Anita Ali

“There are truly deeper issues that make such issues very complicated… The
issues however transcend cultures and question the sanctity of marriage and
life” – John Michael

“I liked how it was like a window into the lifestyle of a young Malay couple who
is fairly religious since I’m from a different race and faith…” – Anonymous

Join us at our coming performances this weekend at Geylang East Public Library and we will love to hear from YOU too!

Translated – Lian He Zao Bao Article (30 Apr)

Hi everyone, here’s the translated copy of the news article featuring our Playwright Nur Sabrina Bte Dzulkifli and her writing, Of Babies (not really) and People.

Click here for to find the actual article in chinese language.

TheatreWorks’ Writers’ Lab Community Tour presents an award-winning play

30 April 2013, Tuesday

Lianhe Zaobao (zbNOW)

Tang Hwa Kwee

A fifteen year-old girl wrote a thought-provoking play about surrogacy

Sabrina was only fifteen last year, yet she participated in TheatreWorks’ 24-Hour Playwriting Competition and wrote a play about marriage and surrogacy which made her the winner of the Youth Category. Currently, TheatreWorks is staging this play in community centres and libraries within the South East district.

Typical sixteen-year-olds are usually troubled by the stress of completing assignments and preparing for the O levels. However, the sixteen year-old Nur Sabrina Bte Dzulkifli, contemplates about the infertility of a married couple in the contemporary society and the controversial issue on surrogacy.

With such a matured mindset, Sabrina wrote a play on the topic of marriage and surrogacy in last year’s 24-Hour Playwriting Competition which made her the winner of the Youth Category. Currently, TheatreWorks is staging the play in community centres and libraries within the South East district.

Titled Of Babies (not really) and People, narrates the life of an infertile couple exploring the idea of surrogacy, together with their mutual friend as the potential surrogate mother.

Raised in a perfect family, the play was based solely on writer’s imagination

With such a multifaceted play, it is hard to comprehend that the play was written with pure imagination by a sixteen-year-old. During an interview, Sabrina stated, “Although it may seem inconceivable, but I do not know anyone who is facing the same problems highlighted in the play. Also, I was personally brought up in a perfect family. Hence, the play was solely conceptualised based on pure imagination”.

Sabrina was only fifteen when the playwriting competition was organised. How is it possible for a fifteen-year-old to conceptualise a play on marriage and surrogacy based solely on pure imagination?

“Although I do not personally know anyone who face the same problems as the characters within the play, I know that there are many in the contemporary society face such dilemmas. Searching for a surrogate seems to be the most direct solution to such problems. However, the solution also involves complex emotions and moral values. Hence, I would like to take this opportunity to explore what are the circumstances which will force the characters to make this irreversible decision.”

Sabrina has mentioned that the purpose of writing such a play was not to comment about the social issue, since she is still young and has not fully matured yet, but to purely explore the different views of parenthood and how a person’s religious and cultural background can influence the choices they make.

The numerous hours of preparation of creative ideas are utilised in the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition 

Last year’s 24-Hour Playwriting Competition, held at Gardens by the Bay, was organised by TheatreWorks. There were a total of 65 contestants who took part in the competition. Throughout the given hours, the organizers would reveal the five different stimuli customarily. The contestants were required to incorporate these stimuli into their written work.

Sabrina has been holding on to the subject of marriage and infertility since January last year. The first revealed stimulus, “Can we please talk about this tomorrow?”, require the contestants to incorporate the question into their written play. When Sabrina heard the first stimuli, she immediately thought of the creative idea which she had been contemplating about.

Directed by Gerald Chew, TheatreWorks’ Writers’ Lab Community Tour has been touring the performance since 12 April 2013. Being able to watch her play staged, she felt excited and honoured. She also mentioned, “Watching the characters I have created come alive on stage was very interesting. When I saw the audiences actively participating in the discussion, I felt very encouraged and I am motivated to work harder as a playwright”.

Of Babies (not really) and People will continue to tour to the various community centres and public libraries within the South East district from 4 – 25 May 2013. The last performance will be held at Gardens by the Bay. 

For more information about the upcoming performances, do visit https://ofbabiestour2013.wordpress.com or call 6737 7213. Admission is free. 

Of Babies on Lian He Zao Bao (30 Apr)

Of Babies on Lian He Zao Bao (30 Apr)

2 Winners of 24 Hour Playwriting Competition featured in Straits Times!

2 winners of 24 Hour Playwriting Competition were featured in Straits Times Life! (7 May 2013) , asking them about their views about a new wave of Malay Theatre Artists who are venturing into social issues at large, in turn gaining non-Malay speaking audiences. Let’s see what these 2 young writers have to say.

Ahmad Musta’ain Khamis, the winner of the 2010 24 Hour Playwriting Competition, saw his award winning play being staged twice in 2010 and 2011 in the TheatreWorks Writer’s Lab Community Project Tours. Serunding is a play that talks about Alin, a Malay-muslim mother who is torn up over the departure of her daughter. It also gives a glimpse of the issues and matters that Alin faces. In this recent article, Ahmad shares that Malay theatre will continue to make an impact on both Malays and other Singaporeans at large, as “a very safe platform to explore issues which would normally never surface”.

Better known as the writer for the ongoing tour of Of Babies (not really) and People, Nur Sabrina Bte Dzulkifli, wrote this winning script when she was 15 years old at the 2012 24 Hour Playwriting Competition. Sabrina speaks about an array of mature issues from surrogacy with its racial and religious dilemmas through the narrative of characters, Maslindah and Jamal. “Sabrina believes that theatre is a medium for social change and that it also has to reflect society as a whole,” as the article says – suggests that theatre can be extended beyond the likes of aesthestics, acting, technicalities and production matters, i.e.  providing access to the audience to relate to and discuss very important issues of amidst society.

You may find the excerpts of the article here:

Sabrina's responses

Sabrina’s responses

Ahmad's responses

Ahmad’s responses

Find out the performance details for the rest of the tour!

Find out the performance details for the rest of the tour!