SRT presents celebrated Playwright Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs – Exclusive Interviews with Director Daniel Jenkins and Actors, Oon Shu An & Joshua Lim

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Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) is once again excited to introduce another two-hander after successful runs of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Sound Inside. Introducing Lungs, written by critically acclaimed British playwright Duncan Macmillan and directed by theatre veteran Daniel Jenkins. Lungs makes its Singapore premiere on Saturday 19 June 2021 at KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT.

Synopsis

They are an everyday couple in a fairly stable relationship. Out of the blue, he pops the question about having a baby. What follows is an emotional rollercoaster ride that is Lungs, an intensely intimate, intricate and funny play about what it means to be a couple confronted by a world of uncertainty. They grapple with making responsible choices in the face of rising social inequity, environmental disaster and political unrest. Watch what happens when life takes over and their principles are pushed aside.

Starring Oon Shu Ann and Joshua Lim as the couple.

Our team speaks to Director Daniel Jenkins and Actors, Oon Shu An & Joshua Lim to find out more about SRT’s upcoming production, Lungs.

Exclusive Interview with Director Daniel Jenkins of Lungs

Daniel Jenkins (Image credit : Crispian Chan)

1. Can you share more about the play, Lungs that you directed?

Lungs is an exciting play written by acclaimed UK author Duncan Macmillan. On the surface Lungs follows the relationship between a man and a woman attempting to get pregnant while considering the environmental impacts of birth. However, Lungs is a play that is not just about saving the world. It is a play about how we save our relationships with each other, about the need for communication, connection and understanding, and it brings attention to the importance of taking responsibility for the choices we make and recognising how these choices may affect the generations to come. Good theatre should be more than just entertainment, it should make you think, it should make you question and it should provoke debate and discussion long after the play has finished. Lungs is a script that does that.

2. What are the challenges you faced in directing Lungs and how did you overcome it?

The Covid situation has certainly affected how we work in the rehearsal room. We are only permitted a very small team within the studio. Masks must be worn at all times, which means the actors have to work extra hard to be heard and understood. We are also trying to be aware of social distancing which means finding creative and imaginative ways to tell the story without losing any of the impact. In fact, the need for distance and separation has allowed us to really explore how these two disconnected characters struggle to connect both physically and emotionally, which has led to some really exciting discoveries.

3. What are some of your favourite scenes?

The script is so wonderfully rich that it is impossible to pick a favourite. The beauty of Duncan Macmillan’s writing is that he has chosen to discard all the stuffing and flab that is usually included in a story, and instead, he propels us through the highs, the lows, and the really crucial moments of these two characters’ lives at break next speed. We jump from one emotional high point to another. It’s a story with only the best bits in it.

4. The theme of Life’s Choices is featured heavily in the play and what are some of the memorable choices that you have made in life as a parent that you would like to share with our readers who are parents?

There have been many difficult decisions I have had to make. Getting married, moving to Singapore, and having children were all scary choices that meant stepping into the unknown and taking a gamble. However, I am happy to say, I have absolutely no regrets. I have 2 beautiful teenage children, I have happily called Singapore my adopted home for the last 23 years, and after 30 years, my wife still puts up with my nonsense!

I think life is full of choices and there is really no guarantee that the choices we make will be the correct ones. However, I am a very firm believer in the importance of not regretting one’s decisions. We can spend a lifetime thinking about ‘what ifs’ and wondering what might have happened had we chosen differently, and yet having these regrets changes nothing. We need to embrace our decisions be they right or wrong, and try to learn and grow.

5. Any upcoming production or work that we can look out for?

There a TV series that I am acting in that had to be rescheduled due to Covid restrictions that we are hoping to start filming soon. Plus, I am directing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged for the Singapore Repertory Theatre later in the year. It’s a fast paced, hilarious romp through all of Shakespeare’s plays which is guaranteed to cheer everyone up, and bring a smile to your face during these uncertain times and I’m super excited about working on it.

6. Lastly, any interesting things that you would like to share with our readers about Lungs and what can our readers expect when they come and watch the play?

Lungs is one of those scripts that doesn’t come around very often. A script that is so cleverly constructed, with dialogue that challenges both the actor and the audience, that feels so relevant and topical. It is intelligent, funny, moving and surprising. It is a play that will resonate with all audiences, young, old, single or married, with children or without, a play about love, life, and, in the uncertain world we live in at the moment, a play that provokes us to question our own life decisions. I can’t wait to share this story with you all.

 

Oon Shu An

Exclusive Interview with Oon Shu An, starring as “W” in Lungs

1. Can you tell us more about your role in Lungs and how do you prepare for it?

She is a PhD student in a long term relationship and they’re deciding whether or not to have a child, both on a personal level and also, whether they “should” given the state of the world. I spend a lot of time thinking about the script. That sounds pretty simple but the way this script is written, feels like there are many possibilities and permutations and I spend a lot of time with that.

2. What are the challenges that you faced in acting out your character and how did you overcome it?

It makes me confront the way I/we have been taught to judge women, judge myself. Society is very hard on women, and we are taught to be very hard on ourselves, to not have needs, to serve other people, to give and give and give, to blame ourselves for everything, to apologise for more than we need to etc. I’ve been focused on interpreting and playing her with compassion and without judging her. Men are taught their own set of “rules”, too!

3. What are some of your favourite scenes?

Oh my god, seriously, so many, all of them!! Haha it’s a wonderful script, I think a lot of people will be able to relate to them as we see the characters evolve through their relationship. The dialogue is so honest and powerful, it is an absolute joy to play.

4. The theme of Life’s Choices is featured heavily in the play and what are some of the memorable choices that you have made in life that you would like to share?

Going to therapy was a huge one! I kind of refused to for a long time because I kept telling myself that I didn’t need it, that I was being “dramatic”, but it really changed my life. Accessible Mental Healthcare is something that needs to happen. Another big one is learning to not take on the responsibility of other people’s mistakes. I have a tendency to feel bad when I point out that someone has done something that hurts me, for example. Then I feel so bad for them feeling bad that I end up blaming myself for their mistakes.

There’s a great quote from Elizabeth Earnshaw that I love.

“Being able to admit when you are at fault is one of the most important relationship skills you could ever develop. AND being able to hold your ground when you’re not at fault is one of the most vital individual skills you could ever develop.”

I’m still not the best at this but learning! Life changing!

5. Besides Lungs, any current and upcoming production or work that we can look out for?

There’s a TV show coming out but the TX date has been shifting so I can’t tell you for certain when yet!

6. Lastly, any interesting things that you would like to share with our readers about  Lungs and what can our readers expect when they come and watch the play?

It’s a funny, deeply moving and beautiful love story, we really hope to see you there!! 🙂

Exclusive Interview with Joshua Lim, starring as “M” in Lungs

Joshua Lim (Image credit : Crispian Chan)

1. Can you tell us more about your role in Lungs and how do you prepare for it?

My character doesn’t actually have a name. In the script, he’s called “M”, and we have sort of come to think of him as a representative of all men. Being a man, I guess I have all the preparation I need for it already!

2. What are the challenges that you faced in acting out your character and how did you overcome it?

For now the biggest challenge is rehearsing with masks on. It makes it difficult to breathe! Especially so in the parts where the dialogue is very fast with A LOT of words to say. Although I must say that it is very good training. If we can perform well with the masks on, imagine what we could do when they come off!

3. What are some of your favourite scenes?

I pretty much like all the scenes where I get to make fun of and with the other character. The happy scenes! I particularly like the scene where they are finding out if she’s pregnant.

4. The theme of Life’s Choices is featured heavily in the play and what are some of the memorable choices that you have made in life as a parent that you would like to share with our readers who are parents?

The best choice I made in life was my wife. I think I chose very wisely! It’s so important to choose your life partner wisely because he/she is also going to be your co-parent! As a parent, and I’m quite a new parent (three years), I think the best choice was to base my parenting philosophy on Attachment Theory and Emotional Security. It forms the basis of all my parenting choices and decisions, the way I want to interact with my children.

5. Besides Lungs, any current and upcoming production or work that we can look out for?

Currently, I can be seen on REUNION, a mystery drama that is on Channel 5 and meWatch. Later on in the year, I will be acting in The Necessary Stage’s ____ Can Change in early November.

6. Lastly, any interesting things that you would like to share with our readers about LUNGS and what can our readers expect when they come and watch the play?

I think parents will be able to see themselves as the characters on stage struggle with the topic of having a baby. Expect to laugh and cry as you journey with the characters in their journey as parents-to-be. I think it’ll be quite nostalgic for parents, and very informative for couples at that juncture.

Don’t miss the opportunity to catch Lungs, get your tickets at https://www.srt.com.sg/show/lungs/

Show Date: From 19 June 2021

Monday to Saturday: 6pm & 9pm

Venue: KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT

Ticket Pricing:
Previews (19 – 21 Jun):
Stall seating – $50
Circle seating – $45

Monday – Thursday, 6pm & 9pm:
Stall seating – $60
Circle seating – $55

Friday & Saturday, 6pm & 9pm:
Stall seating – $65
Circle seating – $60

Duration: Approximately 1 hr 30 mins

Rating: Advisory 16 (Some Mature Content and Coarse Language).

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