“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I

have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I

have loved; all the cities I have visited.”

–       Jorge Luis Borges


Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aries, Argentina on August 1899. He was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator. His works embraces the ‘character of unreality in all literature. Borges dedicated his final work, Los Conjurados (The Conspirators), to the city of Geneva, Switzerland, and it was there, in 1986, that he died with liver cancer.

His most famous books, Ficciones (1994) and The Aleph (1949) are compilations of short stories interconnected by common themes such as dreams, labyrinths, libraries, mirrors, animals, fictional writers, philosophy, religion and God. Other genres include fantasy and magical realism. Many of his most popular stories concern the nature of time, infinity, mirrors and labyrinths

Scholars have suggested that Borges’s progressive blindness helped him create innovative literary symbols through imagination. He was known for literary hoaxes, writing under other names, imagining and reviewing works that do not exist

Borges’ ability to make the text aware of itself marked him as one of the finest writers of the twentieth century, especially in developing a new post-modern sensibility.

Borges was one of the distinguished authors who were never awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The omission constantly distressed Borges in his career.

His vision started to fade in his early thirties, and become completely blind in his late fifties. He came into international attention when he received the first Prix International, sharing the award with Samuel Beckett.




You may wish to click for other interesting articles of Borges here: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/jorge_luis_borges/index.html

Early Bird Ticket Sale Ends Today!

20130303 Four Plays ABCD-80

Our Early Bird Specials will end on 27 March 2013, Wednesday! 

Book now to enjoy this compilation of lyrical texts by writers Roberto Arlt, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar and Marguerite Duras!

Tickets begin from $15.00. Concessions available.  Simply email us at tworks@singnet.com.sg or call us at 6737-7213.

One of my first and most popular stories, “House Taken Over,” is a nightmare I had – Julio Cortazar


“Memory is a mirror that scandalously lies”

       – Julio Cortazar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds


“No one can retell the plot of a Cortazar story; each one

consists of determined words in a determined order. If we try

to summarise them, we realise that something precious has

been lost”

        – Jorge Luis Borges

Julio Cortázar was born in Ixelles, Belgium on August 26, 1914. He was an Argentine novelist, short story writer and essayist. He was known as one of the founders of the Latin American Boom which influenced an entire generation of Spanish-speaking readers and writers in the America and Europe. He died in Paris in 1984 and is interred in the Cimetière de Montparnasse, next to Carol Dunlop. The cause of his death was reported to be leukemia.

Many of Cortazar stories follow the logic of hallucinations and obsessions. Central themes in his work are the quest for identity, the hidden reality behind the everyday lives of common people, and the existential angst. A typical Cortazar story begins in the real world, then introduces fantastic elements which changes the rules of reality.

After his parents’ divorce, Cortazar spent most of his childhood with his mother and sister in Banfield, which became a source of inspiration for some of his stories. However, he also described this period of his life as ‘full of servitude, excessive touchiness, terrible and frequent sadness.” As a child, he was sickly and spent most of his time in bed reading materials selected by his mother, most notably the works of Jules Verne which Cortazar would admire for the rest of his life.

Cortazar later migrated to France in 1951 where he wrote most of his major works in Paris, and worked as a translator for UNESCO. In later years he became actively engaged in opposing abuses of human rights in Latin America and was a supporter of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.

>> Here’s an excerpt of an interview conducted with Julio Cortazar by Jason Weiss:


“How do you start with your stories? By any particular entry, an image?”


“With me stories and novels can start anywhere. As for the writing itself, when I begin to write, the story has been turning around in me a long time, sometimes for weeks. But not in any way that’s clear; it’s a sort of general idea of the story. Perhaps that house where there’s a red plant in one corner, and I know there’s an old man who walks around in this house. That’s all I know. It happens like that. And then there are the dreams. During this gestation period my dreams are full of references and allusions to what is going to be in the story. Sometimes the whole story is in a dream. One of my first and most popular stories, “House Taken Over,” is a nightmare I had. I got up immediately and wrote it. But in general, what comes out of the dreams are fragments of references. That is, my subconscious is in the process of working through a story—when I am dreaming, it’s being written inside there. So when I say that I begin anywhere, it’s because I don’t know what, at that point, is to be the beginning or the end. When I start to write, that’s the beginning. I haven’t decided that the story has to start like that; it simply starts there and it continues, and very often I have no clear idea about the ending—I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s only gradually, as the story goes on, that things become clearer and abruptly I see the ending.”

… more of the interview in the paris review >>





“When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life”

– Marguerite Duras

About Duras

Marguerite Duras was born in Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam) on 4 April 1914. Duras died of throat cancer in Paris, aged 81. She is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse. She was a French writer and film director.

In her teenage years, she had an affair with a rich merchant, which inspired her best-selling work The Lover (1984), and also influenced other works: The Sea Wall, Eden Cinema and The North China Lover. Her works have been produced in films, some of which she directed herself.

While her early novels were conventional in form, she later became more experimental in both her novels and films. Many of her works deal with human sexuality. The form of a typical Duras novel is minimal, with no character description, and much dialogue, often unattributed and without quotation marks. The novel is not driven by narrative, but by a detached psychological probing, which, with its complexity and contradictory emotions, has its own urgency.

Despite her success, her adult life was marked by a recurring struggle with alcoholism.

Duras’ role in FourPlays: ABCD

About The Malady of Death

malady of death

A man hires a woman to spend several weeks with him by the sea. The woman is no one in particular, a “she,” a warm, moist body with a beating heart-the enigma of Other. Skilled in the mechanics of sex, he desires through her to penetrate a different mystery: he wants to learn love. It isn’t a matter of will, she tells him. Still, he wants to learn to try . . .This beautifully wrought erotic novel is an extended haiku on the meaning of love, “perhaps a sudden lapse in the logic of the universe,” and of its absence, “the malady of death.” “The whole tragedy of the inability to love is in this work, thanks to Duras’ unparalleled art of reinventing the most familiar words, of weighing their meaning.” – Le Monde; “Deceptively simple and Racinian in its purity, condensed to the essential.”

Engagement Programme with Duras

Bridging FourPlays: ABCD with our audiences through our Engagement Programme, TheatreWorks is organising a film screening screenplayed by Duras, Hiroshima mon Amour.

This film works on the use of highly structured repetitive dialogue, mostly used on the female lead’s narration with the male lead, interjecting to say she is wrong, lying, confused or to deny and contradict her statements. Although he disagrees and rejects many of the things she says, he pursues her constantly. These conversations of persuasions and dialogues juxtaposed with innovative flashbacks, weave past and present together.

Quotes to share from Hiroshima mon Amour (1959),

“I meet you. I remember you. Who are you? You’re destroying me. You’re good for me. How could I know this city was tailor-made for love? How could I know you fit my body like a glove? I like you. How unlikely. I like you. “

“How slow all of a sudden. How sweet. You cannot know. You’re destroying me. You’re good for me. You’re destroying me. You’re good for me. I have time. Please, devour me. Deform me to the point of ugliness. Why not you? Why not you in this city and in this night, so like other cities and other nights you can hardly tell the difference? I beg of you.”







Film Screening of Hiroshima mon Amour to 20 Mar 2013!


Dear friends,

Please note that Engagement Programme: film screening of Hiroshima mon Amour has been postponed to 20 Mar 2013 (Wed) form 7pm – 9pm. Directors, Vertical Submarine will introduce how this film has influenced their creative process in the making of FourPlays: ABCD.

Guests who have RSVP-ed with us will be informed with notifications via email or text of the changes.

We thank you for your kind understanding and hope to see you on 20 Mar 2013 for the film screening.


TheatreWorks Engagement Team

Tales from the Cast…

We speak with all 4 cast members of FourPlays: ABCD about their emotions, feelings and state of mind at this halfway point. While these 4 members may not be prolific writers or personalities like the Arlt, Borges, Cortazar and Duras, they each have an interesting tale to tell…


Tell us about yourself, who you are?

V: I’m Vanessa Vanderstraaten, (reluctantly) turning 25 in July, Eurasian. I enjoy theatre, literature, Smurfs Village and ogling Andrew Garfield.

T: Hello, I’m Tim, and this is my first time performing with TheatreWorks.

S: I am a French who has been living in Singapore for 4 years. I started to be involved in drama since 1997 in France. Ever since, I performed in different plays in French until I received the opportunity to perform in English for the first time in Vertical Submarine’s FourPlays: ABCD. Last year I acted in the French play, Venice under the Snow in Singapore with the French Stage.

R: Rayann Condy

What do you do?

V: I’m a full-time actress, presenter, host and model. More interestingly, I am also mummy/slave girl to two precocious cats, and in my free time I enjoy sleeping, playing poker and Big Fish Games.

T: I suppose the best answer would be that I ‘do theatre’. Right now that encompasses singing, dancing, acting, producing, directing, choreographing, writing…many parts of this one concept, career, lifestyle that only theatre people can embrace in all its risks and unknowns and singular moments. But the entry point for me was performing from my teenage years, and over time my appreciation for the other integral components of the theatre grew to where I am now – a hunger to do everything.

S: I am a professional in Human Resource management. I am working for a French company selling services to broadcasters.

R: I am a professional actor (BA Hons Acting Lasalle College of the Arts) and theatre director who also dabbles in corporate training and education from time to time.


Where do you come from?

V: Born and bred in sunny Singapore.

T: I’m from New Zealand originally, and proud to be a Kiwi. I also do a great impression of Murray from Flight of the Conchords.

S: France

R: I was born in Canada, immigrated to Australia then adopted Singapore as a PR nearly a decade ago.


Is there one word that best describes you?

V: Darwinian

T: Well, I’m a Libran, and a big proponent of all things cosmic so I tend to agree with the description of Librans being balanced…Balanced is probably the word.

S: Adaptability

R: No, on both levels 😉


What are your personal goals as a member of cast for FourPlays: ABCD?

V: To work with my director and co-actors and bring these four texts to life.

T: Ideally, and I’m sure many other actors would have a similar objective, to play my roles as best I can in the Universe of the plays, to represent the essence of what the original writers intended their readers to see, and what our directors intend for our audience to experience. At the same time while trying to be a good company member to TheatreWorks, Vertical Submarine, and my co-actors, I try to bring out characters from within myself that I’ve not had the chance to play before. Characters of vastly different backgrounds and inclinations from myself, in the frame of times and lifestyles far from anything we know today.

S: This is my first experience in an English play and I want to learn from a professional team

R: To not behave like a director.


Share with us your experience working with Vertical Submarine and other members of cast?

V: It’s been a great deal of fun getting to know everyone and working together to bring these 4 amazing stories to life. Working on the Duras piece was especially fun as we were all equally confused, and finding clues and making discoveries about the text together was a very enjoyable process.

T: So far, it’s all been quite gentle, with certain ease. We’re all discovering this together with guidance and overall curation from Joshua and Justin…and rehearsing in that wonderful big room means there is plenty of air around the process – both literally and figuratively – giving a feeling of freedom. And I’m acting with friends, really. I think we are each quite compatible with each other in this project. And with a cast of four and with steady progress being made, there has also been plenty of laughter in the room – if you make a joke out of something, there aren’t as many people inconvenienced, in terms of rehearsal progress, as there might be on a show with a larger cast with musicians, etc. And without realising it at the time, I think this internal comedy has been essential – after all, ABCD isn’t Neil Simon or Noel Coward. We need lightness as well as balance.

S: So far, working with the team has been very pleasant. We listen to everybody’s point of views to propose the best acting possible.

R: It has been a very interesting process thus far as we have visual artists working with professional theatre actors and amateur actors. So there are different levels of ability, expectation and process. So it makes for an unexpected journey as no one shares the same method of working. This also creates interesting dialogue and makes you investigate the elements of process you normally take for granted.


It has been almost a month into rehearsals, what challenges have you faced? How did you manage overcome them?

V: As these texts were not written as plays, there is sometimes a great deal of narration. In terms of staging, it then becomes challenging to find actions to do because you don’t want to be a puppet behaving exactly as it is narrated, but you don’t want to be distracted from the narration either. You’ll just have to buy a ticket and see if we succeed in finding a middle-ground

T: There have definitely been moments of confusion about what exactly a character is saying, how they’re saying it, how they’re feeling when they’re saying it. It’s a bit like those moments when you have to re-read a paragraph of a novel because the implications aren’t totally obvious. And, to use another novel analogy, it’s a bit like a “choose your own ending” situation. There are a few ways certain moments could be played or interpreted…more ways than I’ve encountered in other roles I’ve played. When these challenges arise, we might sit for a few minutes reading the section quietly until Joshua or one of the cast has a realisation moment, or offers an opinion that sets something off in another person and leads to a collective clarity. Collaboration at its finest!

S: Rehearsals have started only 3 weeks ago for me. My biggest challenge, which I haven’t overcome yet, is to be at ease with the English script. Knowing it by heart will help to overcome it.

R: Actually it’s only been a few weeks, I think the main challenge for me at the moment is getting to grips with the text, working out what’s its about, what it means and how to play it. It’s literature not a play so it needs a different approach that is interesting to discover.


In your opinion, what do you feel is the most defining moment of the performance?

V: I don’t think there is a singular defining moment, but there are many beautiful tableaux in each of the 4 plays, and this is largely fuelled by the intricate relationships between the characters. Whether it’s Enrique and Luba in a heated argument or Quelic and Irene quietly passing the time, I think the audience will be able to find many moments that will resonate for them.

T: I think I’ll mostly leave this one to our audience to discern and decide, as there are many possibilities across the four plays, and we are, afterall, vehicles (Vertical Submarines?) for the texts. But for me, a highlight in this (and any) piece is the catharsis, the surrender, the resolution, the acceptance…it might not be an easy step to take, but it always furthers us.

S: Too early to tell

R: It’s probably too early to say but I doubt it will be just one. So far Luba is mad and fun


Has FourPlays: ABCD influenced your personal life?

V: Yes. Because of our rehearsal schedule, I now have dinner at 6.30pm instead of 7.30pm.

T: Well, our evening rehearsal schedule has kept me out of the wine bars, and artistically enriched! So in more practical terms, there’s something that has fed both the wallet and the soul. At this point I’m still on the memorisation side of my characters, and we’re still finalising blocking, so when I’m free of the pages and everything flows will be the ripe time for personal epiphanies. These epiphanies will then be discussed over wine.

S: No, luckily my personal life is not influenced by the plays I act in.

R: Only in that I no longer have one as I’m at rehearsals every night.

A mysterious masterpiece…


000xtg6s 4231-marienbad2 Last Year at Marienbad. Photo Courtesy Rialto Pictures. marienbad1last-year-at-marienbadlast-year-at-marienbad4

“Marienbad” is a love story, although not a “story” in the conventional narrative sense, since the fragmented images cannot be scanned chronologically. The “story” is not told rather it is described using a juxtaposition of physical images, through memories and associations, projected through a space-time continuum, which destroys both linear chronology and fixity. Resnais built a captivating puzzle-like film, a labyrinth, which at time resembles the optical illusions of Escher or the surreal world of Magritte.

“…profoundly mysterious and disturbing, a para-surrealist masterpiece…”
– The Guardian, 2011

Check these links for more info:

Join us for the screening of the Last Year at Marienbad (1961) where we explore more about this classic French romantic-surrealistic film, and how this translates to Vertical Submarine’s conception of FourPlays: ABCD!

*Please email brendan@theatreworks.org.sg or call 6737-7213 (Brendan) to request for an invite to the Film Screening