A Play Read of Senang

30 - 31 Jan 2013


Goodman Arts Centre Black Box

Presented by Jean Tay
Produced by Drama Box
Made possible through the National Arts Council’s Arts Creation Fund

Senang is inspired by a forgotten tale from Singapore's past – the bloody prison riots that took place on Pulau Senang, located 15 miles south of Singapore. In 1960, the island was used in a bold experiment, led by Superintendent Daniel Dutton, an Irishman who believed he could reform the inmates through labour, and abolished the use of arms to police them.

Over the next three years, the prisoners transformed the island into a jail without bars, as they constructed the prison settlement from scratch. However, things went horribly wrong on 12 July 1963, when a bloody riot initiated by the prisoners led to the death of four officers and the burning of the settlement. This is the story of one man's attempt to create a utopian penal colony, which tragically led to his violent end.

The play will explore the concepts of brotherhood and redemption, by drawing on both Chinese and Western classical texts, such as Shi Nai An's The Water Margin, as well as John Milton's Paradise Lost. With an all-male cast of six speaking in a variety of languages and dialects, the play will reimagine the events leading up to the bloody riots and descent into savagery.

This play read is part of a developmental process of a full-length play, set to be staged in 2014.

Performed in multiple languages

Playwright Jean Tay
Director Kok Heng Leun
Cast Oliver Chong
Daniel Jenkins
Lim Kay Siu
Liu Xiaoyi
Ong Kian Sin
Peter Sau


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