The Theatre Practice (Practice), then known as Singapore Performing Arts School, is founded by dancer/choreographer Goh Lay Kuan and playwright/director Kuo Pao Kun. The school aimed to integrate creative performance with arts education through the teaching of dance, theatre and music.
Ballet classes taught by Goh Lay Kuan commences. The dance classes subsidised many of the school’s other projects during a time when there was no tradition for paid drama education and training.
Practice moves to Sommerville
Practice moves from its first home at Clemenceau Avenue to a house at 12 Sommerville Walk.
Ethnic dance classes taught by Gan Beng Lee and Drama classes taught by Kuo Pao Kun commences. Initial take up was slow, but many students developed a strong passion for theatre and continued to be heavily involved in the company’s productions after graduation.
The Struggle banned
The Struggle, written and directed by Kuo Pao Kun, was banned two weeks before opening night. Instead, it is replaced with poetry recitals and skits. Centred around workers’ rights, The Struggle: Years Later debuted 46 years later at Practice’s 50 year anniversary.
Stage design classes commence
Stage design classes taught by Kuo Pao Kun and Chew Swee Fah commence.
A performing troupe, Art Ensemble, is formed to create Mandarin theatre and variety show works. A year later, they would go independent as the Southern Arts Society.
Experience Life campaign created
The Experience Life campaign is created. Believing “art came from life”, Kuo and his students spent weeks working alongside farmers and fishermen to gain an authentic insight into their lives. These experiences would subsequently inspire the students’ works.
Music courses (piano, accordion and composition) taught by Chew Seok Kwee and Ng Lay Hoon commences.
Kuo Pao Kun & Goh Lay Kuan arrested under Internal Security Act
Kuo Pao Kun and Goh Lay Kuan are arrested under the Internal Security Act. Goh is released shortly after making a televised confession while Kuo spent four years and seven months in detention. In his absence, Goh continues to run the school.
Kuo Pao Kun released
Kuo Pao Kun is released from detention and resumes teaching theatre.
The White Sailing Boat presented
Kuo Pao Kun’s first production post-release, The White Sailing Boat, is presented at the Singapore Arts Festival. Written and directed by Kuo, the production was a collaboration between 14 Chinese theatre groups.
First directing workshop commences
The first directing workshops commences. Helmed by Kuo Pao Kun, these workshops offered formalised directorial training and nurtured many of Singapore’s directors and artistic directors.
The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole premieres
The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole premieres, written and directed by Kuo Pao Kun. Pitting man against the establishment, Kuo’s first English work is a satirical monologue about a man’s struggle with government bureaucracy as he attempts to fulfil his grandfather’s final wishes.
Practice Theatre Ensemble formed
The Practice Theatre Ensemble (PTE) is formed. The bilingual semi-professional theatre troupe allowed company members to train and further develop their artistic skills.
Mandarin production of Fire Raisers premieres
The Mandarin production of Fire Raisers by Max Frish premieres, translated and directed by Kuo. It marked the first public performance of PTE.
Practice moves into Stamford Arts Centre
Practice moves into Stamford Arts Centre under the National Arts Council’s Arts Housing Scheme.
Singapore’s first full-length modern dance piece, Nu Wa – Mender of the Heavens, is choreographed by Goh Lay Kuan. Singapore’s first multilingual play, Mama Looking For Her Cat, is written by Kuo Pao Kun.
Play-in-Arts Programme created
The Play-in-Arts programme for children is created by Goh Lay Kuan. Believing that child education begins with character development, the programme harnessed the power of play and the arts to teach children values.
Practice is invited to manage The Substation, with Kuo Pao Kun as the founder and artistic director. Envisioned as an arts space promoting the experimentation of all art forms, the arts centre officially opened a year later where it became an important resource for many emerging artists and companies.
Student Theatre Exposure Project (STEP) launched
The Student Theatre Exposure Project (STEP) is launched, bringing the company’s arts education pedagogy directly to schools through productions, workshops and classes. Today, it lives on as The Theatre Practice Education Project (TTPEP).
Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral premieres
The Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral premieres, written and directed by Kuo Pao Kun. Following the journey of Ming dynasty eunuch Zheng He, the fable discusses themes of cultural erosion and social castration and remains one of Singapore’s most iconic representations of contemporary theatre.
The Fingers Players formed
The Finger Players is formed as a division aimed at promoting the traditional art of puppetry to youths. The troupe performed many school and community tours, while also experimenting with different puppetry forms. They will establish themselves as an independent theatre company 3 years later.
The Spirits Play premieres
The Spirits Play premieres, written by Kuo Pao Kun and directed by award-winning Taiwanese director Stan Lai. One of Kuo’s most iconic works to date, the play features a group of lost spirits discussing the horrors of war.
The Theatre Training and Research Programme (TTRP) created
The Theatre Training and Research Programme (TTRP) is created by Kuo and T. Sasitharan. The 3-year actor training programme immerses students in both traditional Asian art forms and western theatrical methodologies. The school would go independent 10 years later, renamed as Intercultural Theatre Institute.
Kuo Pao Kun passes
Kuo Pao Kun passes away from cancer at 63 and his death is met with tributes worldwide. Playwright Wu Xi and director Kuo Jian Hong become Co-Artistic Directors of PPACL.
Works for Pao Kun – Legend Alive is organised by Professor Vivien Ku of Taiwan and presented in memory of Kuo’s passing. Former collaborators and close friends were invited to reinterpret sections of Kuo’s works.
Inaugural Kuo Pao Kun Festival debuts
The inaugural Kuo Pao Kun Festival debuts as an international celebration of Kuo’s legacy, beliefs and contributions. The festival invited a diverse group of artists to examine Kuo’s works through different lenses, cultural contexts and art forms.
Second instalment of Legend Alive presented
The second instalment of Legend Alive is presented. Honouring Kuo’s dedication to intercultural exchange, the two double bills feature original works from Practice alongside theatre companies from Japan, India and China.
Lao Jiu: The Musical premieres
Lao Jiu: The Musical premieres, directed by Kuo Jian Hong. Adapted from Kuo Pao Kun’s original script Lao Jiu, the musical marks Practice’s first foray into the Chinese musical theatre genre.
Kuo Jian Hong becomes Artistic Director
Kuo Jian Hong becomes Artistic Director.
“If There're Seasons..." premieres
“If There’re Seasons…” premieres, written by Raymond To and directed by Kuo Jian Hong, with lyrics by Liang Wern Fook. The second of Practice’s series of original Chinese musicals, the jukebox musical features music from the 1990s Xinyao movement.
Inaugural Chinese Theatre Festival presented
The inaugural Chinese Theatre Festival is presented. Envisioned as a platform to promote Chinese language theatre, it showcased a diverse selection of mandarin blackbox theatre works from Singapore and the region.
Kuo Pao Kun Festival - In Search of Kuo Pao Kun presented
Kuo Pao Kun Festival – In Search of Kuo Pao Kun is presented to mark the 10th anniversary of Kuo’s passing. The second installment of the festival again features reinterpretations of Kuo’s works by an international set of collaborators.
The Practice Lab formed
The Practice Lab is formed to train theatre makers in experimentation, creation and training. Divided into four parts, the Lab offered training to directors, actors, reviewers and playwrights.
The wee Question Mark and The Adventurer premieres
The wee Question Mark and the Adventurer premieres. Directed by Kuo Jian Hong, the production’s light touch and willingness to tackle difficult topics with children became a signature characteristic of Practice’s Theatre for Young Audiences works.
The Nursery Rhymes Project launch
The Nursery Rhymes Project is launched. Aimed at promoting Mandarin nursery rhymes to the next generation, the three-part initiative consisted of an illustrated lyrics book, music album and touring jukebox musical.
I came at last to the seas debut
I came at last to the seas debuts, written by Wu Xi and directed by Kuo Jian Hong. The international multidisciplinary work explored the Chinese diaspora through six individuals in various stages of migration, and was Esplanade’s first local commission for the 2000-seat Esplanade Theatre for Huayi — Chinese Festival of Arts.
The inaugural Patch! A Theatre Festival of Artful Play is presented. A platform to promote the importance of play, the festival transcends form, genre or language to curate a selection of art, performances and experiences.
Liao Zhai Rocks! makes its China debut
Liao Zhai Rocks! makes its China debut as part of the SAIC·Shanghai Culture Square’s Shanghai International Musical Festival. While Practice has toured several blackbox shows overseas, this marks the company’s first ever large-scale international tour.
Four Horse Road restaged
Promenade theatre production, Four Horse Road 2020 is restaged. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show only ran for 2 out of 26 shows before it was forced to close.
Practice’s annual festival goes digital and is renamed Patch! A (Live) Theatre Festival of Play.