The Vault: 汐/Sea

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23 November 2015 | 8:00pm
Black Box, Centre 42

Admission is free.

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Written by Haresh Sharma in 1997, Sea is a phantasmagoric journey through the lives of two sisters who can’t live with or without each other, but are always with and without each other.

This short play was staged as part of a double-bill in 1997 at the Substation. On stage as the sisters were Serene Chen and Zelda Tatiana Ng. In the audience were Robin Loon and Casey Lim. The performance left its mark on the both of them. It made such an impression on Robin that he was inspired to re-engage Sea through translation, a creative process that produced 《汐》.

Eighteen years on, Serene, Zelda, Robin and Casey revisit Sea, refreshed with a completely new Chinese translation, 《汐》, alongside Haresh’s English text. In tow are their personal reflections on the 1997 staging.

Don’t miss this one-night-only performance-presentation. Performed in English and Mandarin with surtitles.

Video Documentation

汐/Sea comprises three main parts:
1. The prologue which introduces the methodology of this Vault and the actresses’ memories of 1997 production.

2. 汐/Sea, an amalgamation of Haresh’s English text and Robin’s Chinese translation, with Serene and Zelda reprising their roles as the sisters.

3. The epilogue, in which the actresses present their reflections of the Vault process and how the theatre industry has changed over the past 18 years since they performed in Sea.

The Play

About Sea
Sea is a short but strange conversation between two sisters mysteriously cast adrift in a small boat. Their dialogue is whimsical and peculiar, drifting between past and future events, broaching topics of life and death. SEA’s only staging was in November 1997 by The Necessary Stage as part of a double bill called Moving Home Stories. SEA was directed by Kok Heng Leun and performed by Serene Chen and Zelda Tatiana as the sisters.

About the Playwright
Haresh Sharma is one of Singapore’s most prolific playwrights with over 100 plays to his name. He is the author of celebrated plays such as Still BuildingThose Who Can’t, TeachOff CentreFundamentally Happy; and Gemuk Girls.Haresh is the resident playwright of The Necessary Stage. He is the recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize (1993), the Young Artist Award (1997), the S.E.A. Write Award (2014), and most recently, the Cultural Medallion (2015).

About 《汐》
《汐》is Chinese translation of Sea by Dr. Robin Loon. With the memory of the 1997 production firmly etched in his mind, Robin wanted to rejuvenate Haresh’s text by rewriting the play in Chinese.

Translation is more than just finding equivalent words in another language. The translator has to employ creative judgment and intimate knowledge of the rhythms and cultural nuances of bothlanguages. The process involves uncovering the meanings behind the original text and ensuring those meanings are effectively communicated in the translation, even if it means extensive re-writing.《汐》, in this sense, is a completely new work. The Chinese title was chosen as it is a homophone of the English title.

Robin is a senior lecturer of Theatre Studies at the National University of Singapore. Apart from his own original works,《汐》is Robin’s second major attempt at translating play-text, the first being 《男男自语》, a Chinese translation of Chay Yew’s A Language of Their Own, staged in 2012.


Programme Handout

Programme for The Vault: 汐/Sea.


Actresses Serene Chen and Zelda Tatiana Ng on stage performing the piece. There is a screen in the background with the text 'Prologue the memories".

View more at: Centre 42 Facebook 


Haresh Sharma
Serene Chen
Casey Lim
Robin Loon
Script Translator


Robin Loon: A Life in Theatre
At 24, Robin Loon already had a clearer vision for his life than most in their twenties. Eschewing a career in medicine as his parents had envisioned, Loon, then an English Literature and History major at the National University of Singapore (NUS), was certain of a life in theatre.
Daniel Teo
Published: 18 November 2015
The Playwriting Career of Haresh Sharma
Even before joining The Necessary Stage (TNS) in 1987, Haresh Sharma knew he wanted to be a writer. The problem was that he wasn’t sure what sort of writer he wanted to be. In a 2002 interview published in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (QLRS), Sharma admitted that his early attempts at poetry and prose did not feel “magical”. But in playwriting, he discovered the freedom to say whatever he wanted, however he wanted:
Daniel Teo
Published: 16 November 2015
About Sea (1997)
Haresh Sharma’s Sea was first staged in 1997 as part of a double-bill entitled Moving Home Stories. Following on from Land (also written by Sharma), Sea depicted the whimsical conversation between two sisters, the elder Fong Su Fen and her younger sibling, Fong Su Fang, also called Tarcy. Fen and Tarcy were first played by Serene Chen and Zelda Tatiana Ng respectively, to much critical acclaim. The pair were directed by Kok Heng Leun.
Sea (1997)
Published: 12 November 2015
Singapore Theatre in the 1990s
Sea was written and staged in the 1990s, an exciting decade for the local theatre scene. Singapore plays were being written and produced by local professional theatre companies. The government found value in the arts for the future of Singapore and aggressively pursued its development. But the growth was also accompanied by growing pains as the state logged heads with artists and their supporters. Here are 4 things to note about the Singapore theatre in the 1990s,
Daniel Teo
Published: 20 November 2015