Write Way Home: a workshop about Tiong Bahru

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What makes Tiong Bahru feel like home?

The architecture? The wet market? The Monkey God Temple? The bookshop? The fishball noodle soup?

Join your neighbours and Grey Projects resident writer Jessica Bellamy for a free workshop exploring what makes Tiong Bahru so unique. For ages 16+

Jessica Bellamy is a playwright from Australia currently in residence at Grey Projects week residency, part of which involves offering this workshop for the community (and for fans of Tiong Bahru from outside of the estate).Whether you’re a budding writer, or just interested in a day of creativity, come and engage with your home and your community for a day of writing workshops

When? Sunday 8 December 2013

Where? Tiong Bahru Community Centre

How much? FREE

To express interest and reserve your place, contact jessica@jessicabellamy.com.au

Meet Jessica Bellamy

Meet Jessica Bellamy

Playwright Jessica Bellamy has just arrived in Singapore, to take part in a program for the Singapore Writers Festival, and to begin a six week residency in the neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru, where she will be working with Singaporean playwrights Joel Tan and Faith Ng. Her piece SHABBAT DINNER, exploring ideas of food, memory and family history, is presented this weekend (Sun 10th November) at LASALLE College of the Arts as part of Singapore Writers Festival (To register, free of charge, click here.)

Tiong Bahru Day 1!

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a Sydney based writer who has been working as a freelance playwright for a few years now. In the last 3 years I’ve had opportunities to write my own plays, my first short screenplay, and to participate in some devised productions. My work is heavily inspired by the environment and by poetry, and I am also trying to write more about my own history and cultural background.

And what are have you been working recently?

I have just wrapped up two devised projects: The Grief Parlour with Clockfire Theatre at Parramatta Riverside Theatre in Sydney, and a multi-playwright show LoveNOT with Philippines-based performance company Sipat Lawin Ensemble. I was the winner of the atyp Foundation Commission for 2013, and my play  for children, Compass, premiered in October of this year.

You have written both plays and short films. Which do you prefer?

Theatre is still my first love and always will be – there is something so special about the community that is formed in a room of strangers sharing a story together that I can’t deny.

I am still very new to screenwriting and am seeking more opportunities and experience in that area. I was lucky to be paired with director Damien Power and producer Bec Cubitt for my first film, BAT EYES, two very exciting filmmakers who have helped me through the experience of making a film, and then promoting and screening it.

So, why Singapore? Have you been here before? If so, what were you first impressions?

Singapore is the first overseas country I ever visited, when my parents took my sister and I there for a holiday as children. I remember the tropical heat and regular downpours being so exotic, the excitement of so many cultural districts within one city, and the interesting blend between constructed and natural beauty. I was able to tour Tiong Bahru on my 2012 trip to Singapore, and found it to be such an exciting area rich in art, literature, historical architecture and of course food. I can’t wait to learn even more about it.

I’ve enjoyed visiting a host of South and South East Asian countries in the last few years, including doing some devising work in Manila. I am excited by the prospect of collaborating with Singaporean theatremakers and immersing myself in a different country’s theatrical culture. For so long, Australia has taken its cultural inspiration from European and American models, despite Asia being our neighbour, and it is high time to develop strong links between our two countries, for the future.

Tb tumblrWhat will you be doing there?

There will be a few facets to my residency ( at Grey Projects in Tiong Bahru, made possible through the generous support of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore ). The first is a performance of a new work I have written, Shabbat Dinner, that was first mounted at the Bondi Feast Festival with Tamarama Rock Surfers, directed by Anthony Skuse, in July 2013 (details of the performance, here). I will be working with Joel Tan to bring this to fruition in Singapore. It is a piece of dinner theatre that explores the role of food, family and history in our secular lives. It is a very specific piece, grounded in a particular cultural context, and I look forward to seeing how it translates into a Singaporean context. (Read more, here)

I’ll also be talking about the representation of cities on stage at Singapore Writers Festival, alongside Joel, Huzir Sulaiman and Faith Ng (two leading Singaporean playwrights), and Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott, whose play SILENT DISCO is also being read at the Festival (details of the panel discussion, here.)

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I will also be working with young writers to develop new writing inspired by significant foods in their lives, and a few masterclasses with older writers. By the end of the residency, I will have created the beginnings of a new devised work with Joel Tan and Faith Ng, and hope to further pursue developmental opportunities for the project.

Why the focus on food?

Food is essential to our survival, but it is also meaningful. Food ties us into our culture, our ethnicity, our religion, our family, and our history. When I wrote Shabbat Dinner, I wanted to use food as a way of bringing a community together over the act of “breaking bread”, even if only for the length of the show.

There has to be a reason why humans still sit together and obsess over spice and herbs instead of eating space-food from packets to save time. Good food reminds us that there is more to life than just survival, just nutrition. In the act of eating and tasting, we remember that we are part of a long line of other humans, and that this act of coming together to eat will stretch on for as long as we exist.

And how did you meet Joel and Faith?

I met Joel and Faith at National Studio at Bundanon,organised by the Australian Theatre for Young People, where I did a reading of Shabbat Dinner. Later that week, I was lucky enough to host Joel at election party, where he got a bit of an insight into how emotional Australian left wing artists can be when politics aren’t going their way. I learnt that all three of us have in common a pretty major love of food – and a tendency to photograph what we eat because the world simply must see it.
Joelfaithjess - Tale of Two Cities
What are you looking forward to and what are you hoping to get out of your time in Singapore?

I can’t wait to become a fixture in Tiong Bahru – to suddenly stop being that random girl with the notebook, but a member of a community. I can’t wait to meet other artists and find out what ideas and passions drive them, and see what we have in common. I can’t wait to eat Singaporean carrot cake.

I am hoping that I will leave Singapore with a bunch of new collaborators and friends, and that I will then be able to embark on many years of cross-cultural theatre-making between our countries. I hope that the writing program I set up for teenagers can become self-seeding, so that new work is constantly being generated.

And I hope that my residency paves the way for many more such residencies in the future, and a robust engagement of our two countries for a long time to come.

How can people be involved?

I will be sharing details of all of the programs through the Tales of Two Cities Facebook page, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on our Tumblr. I’ll be regularly updating with stories from Singapore, interviews with fellow artists, pictures of food, and more!

Find out more details about the Tales of Two Cities event at the Singapore Writers Festival, here. You can find out more about the full program for Jessica, here.

The Tales of Two Cities

Tales of Two Cities is an ongoing conversation and creative exchange between Singaporean and Australian playwrights and theatremakers.

Kicking off with Singaporean theatre artists visiting Playwriting Australia’s National Play Festivals – playwright Huzir Sulaiman (Joint Artistic Director, Checkpoint Theatre) in 2012 and director Tracie Pang (Pangdemonium Productions) in 2013 – the program is now ramping up with emerging playwrights Joel Tan and Faith Ng having just spent a week at atyp’s Fresh Ink National Studio in Bundanon, NSW, with 16 young Australian writers and leading playwrights Declan Greene, Angela Betzien and Jane Bodie.

Australian Playwrights @ the Singapore Writers Festival

We next head to Singapore for the 2013 Singapore Writers Festival in November, where Lachlan Philpott, Jessica Bellamy and Playwriting Australia’s Artistic Director Tim Roseman will be joining Huzir, Faith and Joel to talk about the challenges and pleasures of putting the cities of Singapore and Sydney on stage (Venue: National Museum of Singapore, Saturday 9th November, 8.30 to 10 pm).

Singaporean audiences will also get the opportunity to attend a reading of Silent Disco as leading Singaporean director Claire Wong directs a reading of Lachlan’s acclaimed AWGIE winning play.

Playwright Residency: Jessica Bellamy

From the National Museum of Singapore, we head to Tiong Bahru, where Jessica Bellamy begins a six-week residency in one of Singapore’s most beloved housing estates. Jessica will be working with playwright/ director Joel (Family Outing) Tan and a group of young performers to present, as part of the Singapore Writers Festival, Shabbat Dinner, a work exploring the role of food, females and family in contemporary Jewish identity. Jessica will then spend six weeks in Tiong Bahru working with Joel and Faith to explore the extraordinary relationship Singaporeans have with the food that they eat, and working with community groups, schools and Singaporean artists to create a response to Shabbat Dinner, which will take place in Tiong Bahru in December.

Follow the project on Facebook for first word of workshops for young writers, events and tickets for the readings.

Jessica will be blogging for us regularly from Singapore, and you can follow Tales of Two Cities over on Tumblr, on Twitter at @sydneysingapore and on instagram.

Sharing memories, stories and new work: these are the Tales of Two Cities.

Industry & Project Partners
Tales of Two Cities is made possible through the support of the City of Sydney, National Arts Council (Singapore), Australian Chamber of Commerce (Singapore), Grey Projects (Singapore), the Singapore Writers Festival, Tiong Bahru Community Centre and the Australian Theatre for Young People (Sydney).