Some stills to share

While it might be our last performance tonight, we’ll like to share some sneaks which we took from the staging of FourPlays: ABCD!

Catch our last show later tonight at 8pm, 72-13 Mohd Sultan Road. Tickets are still available but limited.

See you!

Cortazar's The House taken Over

Cortazar’s The House taken Over

Duras' La Maladie de la mort (The Malady of Death)

Duras’ La Maladie de la mort (The Malady of Death)

Borges' The Shape of the Sword

Borges’ The Shape of the Sword

Arlt's Luba

Arlt’s Luba

From our Associate Director, Joshua Yang of Vertical Submarine

Life is ironic. And isn’t it true that the things we try to run away from become the very things that we end up running into? But that’s the truth. It’s like death, when it comes towards where you are, you have to greet it with humility, to steal a line from Luba.

The fact is, as many of you already know, I’m not a big fan of theatre. Things are always bigger in theatre, more exaggerated, more “epic” than I’m accustomed to in real life. But I realized that that’s what these four stories are about: conversations and dialogues between two people in a room, but there’s always something bigger, something epic going on outside the room; a battle, a revolution, death, love. Epic themes! And you might ask why take on such big and heavy themes? Why not deal with something simpler? Babies, perhaps? But the fact that you ask the question, proves you can’t understand. No. It’s not about us choosing these themes. It’s quite the other way around.

These themes are bigger than us, any one of us and bigger even than all of us put together. They choose us as the medium for their story to be told. And all we can do is to accept it and not try to run away from the truth. Everyday life is mundane enough as it is that if we didn’t embrace the epic, how can we hope to face the mundane? There will be times, and it has already started with the newspapers and blogs, where there will be people, some of whom could be your nearest and dearest who might tell you that you’re not good enough, and ask you why is it you’re doing whatever you’re doing? Is it just about the money? We all know that’s not it. The fame? The glory? And when you run out of answers, and everything goes silent and there’s nothing to be heard, you should know this: we do this because we must! And because the alternative is even more terrible.

Throughout this process there were those who ran away from it and I shall not name them but there were those, like yourselves who stayed, accepted and embraced the truth and on behalf of vertical submarine I want to thank these people for not running away.

Keng Sen and Tay Tong, for believing in us a second and a third time.

Soo Mei, for getting us our tickets and for everything else that we needed for the set.

Mervyn and Brendan, for selling the show and reaching out to the students and readers at the library.

Cody, this show would have been a very different one, a much less brilliant one without such an amazing, tight-assed production stage manager as you.

Albert, for shedding some light when we were bungling around in the dark.

Shawn, for making us believe that we were drowning in the ocean surrounded by seagulls.

Azmee and Zhiting, from A to Z, for never missing a cue.

Lyra, Yiting and Raden, for all your work behind the scenes and in between.

Ashley, for turning Vanessa into a forty-something Argentine spinster and for all the other hairy matters.

Ray, for giving us Vincent Moon’s scar.

Rayann, for giving us Luba, a whore whom we’d all love to be slapped by and for all those sensual movements in bed.

Stephane, for the French accent and for trying so hard to do without it.

Tim, for giving us Vincent Moon, how can we not despise you?

Vanessa, for haunting the set with the ghost of Marguerite Duras, whose birthday was 4th April and maybe that was why there were so many glitches.

And last, although they’re not here, I want to thank Justin and Fiona, my comrades, my extra pair of eyes, ears, hands and feet. Thank you for the past 10 years.

Thank you all for your hard and good work! And here’s to a great run tonight and for the rest of the shows!


Joshua Yang, Vertical Submarine
Associate Director, TheatreWorks
FourPlays: ABCD (2013)

TODAY Online Theatre review: ABCD


Mayo Martin of TODAY Online reviews about FourPlays: ABCD!

Here’re some snippets from the article:

… Linked by subtle elements (namedropping an author here, evoking an image there), the four stories (which technically unfolds as BCDA) actually cohere. But if this so-called impossibility of dialogue is resolved, the dialogue between literary text and theatre remains tricky…

… Going to a play to watch and hear stories being read may not be to everyone’s liking (perhaps judging by some empty seats after the intermission), but there’s arguably a certain allure to it. It’s the reverse of immersion as one is forced to accept a powerful singular voice to lead them through the tale — something that works very well if you’re talking about writers of this calibre…

The full article here:

Latin American giants (Re-post)




Stills from the scene of D: The Malady of Death by Marguerite Duras


TODAY speaks with Vertical Submarine about the upcoming staging of FourPlays: ABCD


As TheatreWorks’ associate artists, art collective Vertical Submarine wanted to follow up their 2011 theatre debut Dust — A Recollection with a 48-hour-long event revolving around interrogations. Realising they might not get enough people to stay, they thought of something less audacious but no less interesting: A four-in-one show centred around four 20th century authors.

ABCD’s title is taken from the names of four authors, and through the course of the play, we watch interpretations of Roberto Arlt’s Luba, Jorge Luis Borges’ The Form Of The Sword, Julio Cortazar’s House Taken Over and Marguerite Duras’ The Malady Of Death. All of these feature two characters (performed by Rayann Condy, Vanessa Ann Vanderstraaten, Stephane Brusa and Tim Garner) and deal with the impossibility of dialogue. (Ironically, this is the group’s first production with actual dialogue.)

While it’s technically a piece of theatre, member Joshua Yang said they approached its creation as they would a painting.

“During the rehearsal process, we just kept on doing runs of the whole script again and again, like starting with a very rough sketch, then the under-painting, then more layers. I think it drove the actors crazy,” he laughed.

As for audiences, Yang hopes that the piece is received as a kind of “book recommendation” for Latin American literature that the group is fond of.

“They’re a bit anti-literature and it can be very hard to get through the texts but we want people to get interested in the books,” he said, intimating that the act of reading isn’t confined to books.

“We try to widen the definition. Even in painting, you’re supposed to ‘read’ what the painter put in there; in theatre, you also ‘read’ the body language of the authors and listen to the lines. There’s this kind of decoding process.”

ABCD is from April 3 to 6, 8pm, 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road. Tickets at S$35 from or 6737 7213.

Check the full article here:

Repost: Vertical Submarine Explores Impossibility of Dialogue


Blouin Art Info SEA covers FourPlays: ABCD

An extract from the full article…

What is “FourPlays: ABCD” is about?

The play is about human relationships and the about trading of monologues which impersonate as dialogues.

This conceptual theatre performance is inspired by four writers. Why did you choose them?

We see parallels between the post-colonial culture in Argentina and our society, both places have writers writing in a language that is not exactly theirs. The three Argentine writers and the stories are contrasted by the petit-bourgeois concerns and ruminations of Duras.

How is the work split between the three of you?

The work is not only divided between the three of us but between the whole production team and TheatreWorks, and even the audience who made serious effort to watch the play.

To find out more visit click