If you’re into Singapore’s theatre scene, chances are you’ve probably heard of Adib Kosnan.
Adib Kosnan has written plays on sensitive topics like the rights of indigenous Malays and messy family dynamics but he might soon be facing one of his biggest challenges yet: putting on a play targeted at children.
“Young audiences are the most honest, and they will tell you if they don’t want to be there—especially if they haven’t had their afternoon nap!” the 37-year-old quipped.
Adib’s upcoming play, A Prince, An Explorer and A Girl, is adapted from his 2020 show, The Putu Piring Incident at Batu Balut. The adaptation adds a narrator who helps the characters understand empathy and see things from different perspectives.
When directing the play, Adib wanted to discuss biases and preconceived notions “without talking down to the children”. He took inspiration from forum theatre, a technique that allows spectators to influence a performance, and created opportunities for the children to voice their thoughts during the play.
In rehearsals, cast members Rino Junior John, Xie Huilin Jasmine, Vignesh Singh, and Periyachi Roshini practised their lines while leaving room for improvisation and discussion.
“We have to steer them in the direction we want, while giving them the freedom to say what they want,” said Adib.
Not child's play
For Adib, theatre is more than a part of his job; it also was where he met the love of his life. Image credit: Adib Kosnan
Adib was introduced to theatre at age 10 and started acting in 1995. Seven years later, he joined Malay theatre company Teater Kami, where he helped with backstage work, before making his professional acting debut with Hikayat Hang Tuah in 2003.
In 2018, he scored a nomination for Best Original Script at The Straits Times’ Life! Theatre Awards for his play 28.8.
Theatre has undeniably changed Adib’s life in more ways than one. He met his wife through Teater Kami, and they now have three kids—aged two, six, and eight—together.
“I’m really excited for my children to watch this play because they will see my creative work, and they get a glimpse of the world I’m in,” added Adib, who is an educator, as well as an Associate Artist with home-grown company Checkpoint Theatre.
The next stage
While Adib would like to work with younger audiences in the future, he is currently focused on completing a Masters in Arts Pedagogy and Practice at LASALLE College of the Arts.
“I have three kids, so maybe my production piece for now will just be taking care of them,” he said with a laugh.
For now, he has some words of advice for aspiring theatre practitioners, “Don’t get discouraged if you have to take a detour. The industry is tough but you do need time to get used to this craft.”
You and your child can become spect-actors in A Prince, An Explorer and A Girl - The Story of Batu Bulat, which runs at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay from 11 to 27 August 2023.
Top image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay