betty August 11, 2022

SINGAPORE – The first rehearsal for the NDP show with all the different groups of performers was a mini-disaster that nearly went up in flames, said its creative director Adrian Pang.

Things that were not supposed to catch fire did, he said.

“I was horrified. Watching that first rehearsal was a big kick in the gut and slap in the face,” he added.

“But really, I think the first time you see it, it has to horrify you, just for you to know how much work you need to do to fix things.”

Directing the show for the first time, he wanted to throw a “birthday bash” for the nation, by tying “millions of different stories into one thread”, but soon found that he could not give voice to all Singaporeans, or please everyone.

When he was approached last year to direct the NDP show, Mr Pang was “very amused”.

“I was persuaded that I had to at least try it out once,” he said.

But he soon changed his mind as he cast about for ideas and hit upon a dark period in his life.

Mr Pang got emotional during the interview as he recounted how his family had helped him get through a months-long deep depression at the start of the pandemic.

“It was a really, really tough time. I really didn’t see it coming. My family saw me through it, they lifted me up and kept my head above water.

“And I know I had it easy, compared to many, many other people. I still had a home to be safe and I had a loving family. I was able to keep Pangdemonium (his theatre company) intact somehow.

“I know many, many people, many of my colleagues who had to resort to quite desperate measures just to get by. People’s lives have been changed, irrevocably.”

That inspired him to put together a show about gratitude.