Pangdemonium season opener – interview with Tracie Pang

With the first of this year’s Pangdemonium triplet all set to open on Friday, we talked to Artistic Director Tracie Pang about life behind the scenes

Artistic Directors Tracie and Adrian Pang

Hello Tracie! We can’t wait to see The Pillowman when it opens. Can you tell us more about the upcoming season: what’s the theme and how did you choose it?

We’ve three plays in the 2017 season: The Pillowman, Tango and Fun Home. Tango is a play we’ve been working on for over two years, so that was first in the season schedule. We knew early on that we didn’t want to wait another year to get it to the producing stage so we targeted season 2017. The Pillowman is a subject that we’ve discussed many times and also been asked to stage. When the subject came up we realised it would have been 10 years since we first staged it. We didn’t need much convincing as it’s one of our all-time favourite plays. Adrian became aware of Fun Home first and insisted I should listen to the music. I fell in love with the music, the story and read the graphic novel that it is based on. I don’t know that there is a theme but they are three very exciting stories that Adrian and I want to tell and share with our audience.

How is it working as both director and founder, and with your husband Adrian?

Adrian and I have quite different roles in the company but the one overlapping thing we both do is plan the season and guide the company’s direction and style. We have very similar tastes and are a very good sounding board for each other. Adrian does a lot of work with our sponsors, oversees all content for our show programmes and copy for all collaterals. I manage the budgets and financial elements, contracts and staffing matters. When it comes to the shows, as a director I take the artistic lead but as a producer he has a say in all the decisions we make. We work well as a team and I believe it is because we have a lot of respect for each other as artists.

What has been the key to your success as a theatre company?

Wow, if I knew that I could sell it for a fortune! I guess we love what we do and that filters down to everyone we work with. We also don’t sell out and at all times try and keep our production standards as high as possible – we never settle for ‘maybe’.

If you could produce any play in any theatre, what and where would it be?

There are so many! To be honest re-doing The Pillowman falls into that category; I have always wanted to do it again. If I could, I would love to take one of our productions such as Next To Normal and play it on the London stage, to see how our colour blind casting would be received there and also the piece itself as it has never been performed in the UK. Just for fun, I’d love to direct Something Rotten ­- I love the music, story and the tongue-in-cheek jokes but it is so massive I would never have the budget to do it here!

What makes Singapore such an up-and-coming place for the arts these days?

We have a young theatre going audience and we are not restricted by old fashioned notions of what theatre should be. Doing this has given us the freedom to make theatre exciting by what we are doing and how we do it.

How do you relax between shows – if you do at all?!

Hah! There is not a lot of time but we like to go to the cinema or if we really can, take some time off then to travel and get away from the office for a real break.

How did you spend Chinese New Year?

As always we had reunion dinner with Adrian’s parents. First day is spent with the whole Pang clan and after that time is split between sneaking off to the cinema and visiting some friends for celebrations.

Thanks for chatting, Tracie. On with the shows!

The Pillowman opens at Victoria Theatre on 24 February and runs until 12 March, rated 16. For details CLICK HERE