The Vault: Past Perfect

Start date of Residency
October 2023
Masthead Image
Masthead Image
October 2023
25 October 2023 | 8:00pm
26 October 2023 | 8:00pm
27 October 2023 | 8:00pm
28 October 2023 | 3:00pm
28 October 2023 | 8:00pm
29 October 2023 | 3:00pm
Black Box, 42 Waterloo Street

Rating: Advisory 16 (Some Mature Content)

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Press Release

Download the Press Release here


The Vault: Past Perfect returns after its first run under the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) in May 2023. This time, expect more tidbits and artefacts from the 90s - a decade of growth and experimentation in Singapore theatre, and expanded scenes!

3 actors gather and they reflect on their journey through Theatre in the 1990s. With 20/20 hindsight, what did it mean to DO theatre in the 1990s? Why did they do what they do and more importantly, how? Without any rose-tinted glass, no misty water-coloured memories, these actors share their thoughts and ruminations – is the past really so perfect?

Conceptualised by Robin Loon and Casey Lim, and co-created with Nelson Chia, Oniatta Effendi and Serene Chen, The Vault: Past Perfect is a performance of pieces that draw on the personal archive, reflecting on the energy and legacy of Singapore theatre-making in the 1990s.


The Vault: Past Perfect is a performance of pieces that draw on the personal archive, reflecting on the energy and legacy of Singapore theatre-making in the 1990s.


The Vault: Past Perfect was first staged as part of a group show SIFA X: there is no future in nostalgia. An interview was also conducted with conceptualizers Casey Lim and Robin Loon. Read the latest interview by Catch with Casey and Robin here!

Find out more about the first staging at SIFA and go behind-the-scenes on the process of restaging Past Perfect in the links below!

Production Histories

Click below for a look at some of the productions the Past Perfect creators were involved in back in the 1990s! 

Nelson Chia


Titoudao by Toy Factory Productions (Performer)


The Coffin is Too Big For the Hole by The Theatre Practice (Performer)
The Mahabharata Part I: The Game of Dice by Asia-in-Theatre Research Circus (Performer)


The Soldier and His Wife by The Theatre Practice (Performer)
Year Zero: The Historical Tragedy of Cambodia by Asia-in-Theatre Research Circus (Performer)
K by Toy Factory Productions (Performer)


Lao Jiu by TheatreWorks (Performer)


Family by The Theatre Practice (Performer)


A Midsummer's Night Dream by The Theatre Practice (Performer)
Love a la Zen by The Theatre Practice (Performer)

Oniatta Effendi


Geylang People in the Net by The Theatre Practice (Performer)


Sunset Rise by The Theatre Practice (Performer)

Serene Chen


Kampong Amber (Singapore Festival of Arts) by Glen Goei, Dick Lee and Catherine Lim (Chorus)


Invisibility by The Necessary Stage (Performer)


The Teenage Textbook by The Necessary Stage (Performer)
Chang & Eng by ACTION Theatre (Performer)
Galileo [I feel the earth move] by The Necessary Stage (Performer)
Sea by The Necessary Stage (Performer)
Invisibility by The Necessary Stage (Performer)


Hungry (Got to Go... Play Til Dawn) by TheatreWorks (Performer)


24 Hours - A Musical by The Necessary Stage (Performer)
Pan Island Expressway by TheatreWorks (Performer)

Robin Loon


Army Daze (The Retrospective) by TheatreWorks (Performer)
M Butterfly (Singapore Festival of Arts) by TheatreWorks (Production Manager)


Love Bites (Writers' Lab) by TheatreWorks (Playwright)
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (Writers' Lab) by TheatreWorks (Playwright)


Bernard's Story (Theatre Carnival on the Hill) by TheatreWorks (Stage Manager, Festival Administration)
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder by TheatreWorks (Playwright)


Rhapsody (Writers' Lab) by TheatreWorks (Playwright)
Us in Singapore by TheatreWorks (Collaborator)
Watching the Clouds Go By by TheatreWorks (Playwright)


Longing by TheatreWorks (Dramaturg, Playwright)


Writers' Lab - Lab Report 7 by TheatreWorks (Artistic Director)
Mortal Sins by TheatreWorks (Collateral Designer)
Broken Birds: An Epic Longing by TheatreWorks (Librettist, Playwright)


Six of the Best by TheatreWorks (Dramaturg)
Ginnie's Favourite Colour (SPH Festival of New Writing) by TheatreWorks (Director, Festival Director)


Workhorse Afloat by TheatreWorks (Playwright, Performer)
Destinies of Flowers in the Mirror by TheatreWorks (Playwright)

Casey Lim


One Year Back Home (The Retrospective) by TheatreWorks (Performer)
The Lift by ACTION Theatre (Performer)


Bernard's Story (Theatre Carnival on the Hill) by TheatreWorks (Performer)
Prelude to a Kiss by ACTION Theatre (Performer)
The Complete Space Traveler's Guide by TheatreWorks (Performer)


Lao Jiu by TheatreWorks (Performer)
Under the Bed by TheatreWorks (Performer)
Dirty Laundry by TheatreWorks (Performer) 


Lao Jiu by TheatreWorks (Performer)
A Night Out With Michael Chiang - Love & Belachan, Beauty Box & Heaven II by TheatreWorks (Performer)
Undercover by TheatreWorks (Performer)
Longing by TheatreWorks (Collaborator, Performer)


Broken Birds: An Epic Longing by TheatreWorks (Performer)
Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral (Festival of Asian Performing Arts) by TheatreWorks (Performer, Projection Designer)


Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral by TheatreWorks (Performer, Projection Designer)
The Yang Family by TheatreWorks (Collaborator, Performer)
The Flying Circus Project by TheatreWorks (Participant)
The Buried (SPH Festival of New Writing) by TheatreWorks (Director)
Teochew Porridge by ACTION Theatre (Director)


Lao Jiu by TheatreWorks (Director)


Beauty World by TheatreWorks (Assistant Stage Director)
Beauty World by TheatreWorks (Director) 
A.I. by TheatreWorks (Sound Designer)
The Flying Circus Project by TheatreWorks (Participant)
Angel Waiting (Got to Go... Play Till Dawn) by TheatreWorks (Director)
Exhumation (Got to Go... Play Till Dawn) by TheatreWorks (Concept, Director)
Hungry (Got to Go... Play Till Dawn) by TheatreWorks (Director)
Water Ghosts (Got to Go... Play Till Dawn) by TheatreWorks (Director)


Pan Island Expressway by TheatreWorks (Director)
Haunted by TheatreWorks (Director)
On Mercury's Wings by TheatreWorks (Director, Set Designer)​​
My Lonely Tarts by TheatreWorks (Director)

3 Quick Questions with the Cast

We asked the cast of The Vault: Past Perfect a few fun questions as they were in the midst of preparing for the show. How does Oniatta feel the production has evolved since its first staging in May? What nuggets of wisdom would Nelson impart on his younger self? Why did Serene want to perform in the musical adaptation of Minfong Ho's Sing to the Dawn? Watch the video below to hear from the cast!


Three actors standing in front of music stands against the backdrop of two screens.

Photographs from The Vault: Past Perfect.
View more at: Centre 42 Facebook.

The Process: Behind the Scenes
Five persons seated around some tables, reading from scripts.

[From left] Robin, Serene, Oniatta, Nelson and Casey at the first table read for this staging of The Vault: Past Perfect on 12 October. 

A female-presenting person seated in front of a music stand. To her right, another female-presenting person standing in front of a music stand.

Nelson, Oniatta and Serene rehearsing an excerpt from Private Parts, one of the plays featured in The Vault: Past Perfect on 19 October. 

A collage of three photos, each showing a performer standing in front of a projector screen.

Nelson, Oniatta and Serene in the Black Box on 21 October, going through the full script for the first time!

Three performers in white clothing standing behind three music stands. Behind them are two projector screens with red backgrounds.

Nelson, Oniatta and Serene during the full dress run of The Vault: Past Perfect on 24 October. 


While theatre about theatre may seem indulgent, these processes enable a community to engage in new forms of collective introspection, bonding, and healing. The making of shared meaning is a relentless process for any group of people, and one can’t help but feel that many organisations, creative or otherwise, might benefit from the restorative rhythms of their own attempt at "Past Perfect".

- Corrie Tan, in her Jom Media article "What is the grammar of our relationships?" – The Vault: Past Perfect" at Centre 42

Oral histories are powerful. In the sharing, we light the way for others further up the path. Thank you for lighting mine. I’ve needed this. Necessary viewing if you are a theatre practitioner.

- Zee Wong

This work made me reflect upon myself. My tears were not just for nostalgia… But there are many things to ponder - about the arts, about the scene, about the audience, about ourselves, about our progress and our future.

- Zelda Tatiana Ng

They showed me what it’s like to persist, to care about what you do, to choose, to learn as you do, and do as you can. I left the theatre thinking about the impact of the work that we do, the shows, the words, the relationships forged, the moments of discovery, and the stories —— Always the stories.

- Ahmad Musta'ain B Khamis


We thank the following organisations and playwrights for their permissions and access to the original material featured in The Vault: Past Perfect. 

Eleanor Wong
Michael Chiang
Ovidia Yu
Noor Effendy Ibrahim 
SPH Media
Tan Tarn How
The Necessary Stage
The Theatre Practice



Robin Loon
Conceptualizer, Dramaturg, Writer
Casey Lim
Conceptualizer, Director
Nelson Chia
Collaborator, Performer
Oniatta Effendi
Collaborator, Performer
Serene Chen
Collaborator, Performer


Restaging Past Perfect - An Interview with Casey Lim & Robin Loon
This October, The Vault: Past Perfect returns after its first run under the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) in May 2023. We say farewell to two of the original performers, while Nelson Chia, Oniatta Effendi, and Serene Chen gather once more to reflect on their journey through theatre in the 1990s. A new script brings us more tidbits and artefacts from the 90s - a decade of growth and experimentation in Singapore theatre - and expanded scenes! 
Adelyn Tan
Published: 18 September 2023