The Statue of Liberty will see you coming and run.— Aunty L.
Raj always dreamt of going to America. Instead his family locked him up in a mental hospital in Tanjung Rambutan. So imagine his happiness when upon his release he learnt that Uncle L was looking for a sidekick to journey to New York. Uncle L was always travelling. He had done Ecuador and the Galapagos, gambled in Las Vegas, and watched with interest as bored women in Bangkok ricocheted ping-pong balls off his wife’s head. Everyone in the family was sick of his wanderlust. But not Raj.
Despite Uncle L’s misgivings – and those of his wife – the two embark on their fateful journey together. Neither understands the urges that consume them but along the way they become part of the restless flotsam and jetsam of humanity, part of the restless tide of life on the planet. And Tragedy follows as it inevitably does.
From the powerful imagination of award-winning director, playwright and actor Jo Kukathas, comes an epic, charming, and poignant tale about two Malaysian dreamers, brought to tragic-comic heights by the psychedelic vision of Singaporean director Natalie Hennedige. Raj and the End of Tragedy reminds us that at the end of the failures and successes of today’s headlines are the silent tragedies that make us human.
Raj and the End of Tragedy is a successful combination of theatre, dance, dramatic book-reading and mixed media performance. Jo Kukathas would switch from one character’s voice to the next, carrying the narrative as the other performers presented themselves as props or an extension of the characters and the story.Amir Hafizi
Written & Performed By
Jo Kukathas is an actor, director and writer and Artistic Director of The Instant Cafe Theatre Company. Best known in Malaysia for her comedic alter-egos Jo is also a respected actor and director receiving recognition for her work at home and abroad. She recently conducted Shakespeare workshops in various Brazilian cities with the Shakespeare Forum.
Natalie Hennedige is the Artistic Director of Cake Theatrical Productions. A recipient of the National Arts Council Young Artist Award in 2007 and the JCCI Singapore Foundation Culture Award in 2010, Hennedige conceptualises, writes and directs for the theatre. She also develops projects that experiment with disciplines such as visual arts, video, performance art and dance, and creates theatrical spectacles in outdoor, public spaces.
Helmed by Artistic Director Natalie Hennedige, Cake Theatrical Productions is a contemporary theatre company based in Singapore. Cake’s immersive and visceral works are staged in conventional theatres as well as outdoor public spaces. From intimate theatre experiments to lush outdoor spectacles, Cake is committed to exploring the possibilities of theatre and performance, offering pieces that are varied, multidisciplinary and artistically adventurous.
Jo Kukathas has showed us what the theatre really is: an asylum for those of us whose imagination is too restless and constitution too delicate for the cages that society calls norms. Within the unforgiving logic of work, nation, and survival, forced to conform within the gaze of the state, some of us escape by travelling across the globe, some across the line the divides reason from reality, some across other lives. In “Raj and The End of Tragedy” by Jo Kukathas, the writer has taken the fevered fluttering of the wandering mind and mapped its wanderlust across continents of fellow migrants and dreamers, telling a rich and poignant tale, weaving our interconnected existence into a communal experience that only theatre can provide. Thank you Jo for taking us into this dark space, letting us gaze back into the void and seeing each other so clearly. Thank you for making it okay, in a world so absolutely bonkers, to find ourselves on this side of sanity.Pang Khee Teik
My heart was racing from the start. There was something spectral about the affair, at once otherworldly and familiar. White, cuboid structures marked the dreamlike stage in perfect symmetry, like royal tombstones for the kings of old. Slowly and with menacing synchrony, five figures in black ambled out from behind the constructions.
A heavy silence fell over the space. The trepidation in my heart grew alarmingly. It’s that same feeling I get just before the rollercoaster takes its plunge. That’s exactly what the Instant Café Theatre Company’s new play, Raj And The End Of Tragedy, felt like – gripping, tumultuous, and an exhilarating journey into the deep recesses of the human mind.Dinesh Kumar Maganathan
With Natalie’s direction, there’s this language of what Jo has written. There’s our physical language, there’s the language of the set, how it’s created and perceived. There’s the language of the music and the projections. Together, it will feel very full, much like a normal play. That’s the angle we’re exploring, and I think it’s kind of new and exciting, not just for us, but for the Malaysian audience as well.Ghafir Akbar
Excelling in the fields of World, Western and Electronic Music Composition, Improvisation and Surround-Sound Designing, Philip is well-known for his zest for experimentation. His collaborations with film, multimedia, dance, theatre and art-installation are showcased internationally in film festivals, art biennales, museums and art galleries. His works have been performed and presented to great accolades in many parts of Europe, USA, and Asia. He is highly-regarded as one of the only few composers who is competent in Concert, Studio and Outdoor Sound Design.
Singapore-based lighting designer / technical manager, Andy designs & manages various professional theatre and dance companies, as well as art installation. He has worked extensively both in and outside of Singapore, with numerous experience touring shows in Europe, Asia and North America. Andy is also an aspiring visualist, and a close collaborator with multi-disciplinary art group “COLLECTIVE mayhem”.
Led by Nizam Supardi, Neon Tights is a design collective that creates 3-dimensional craft works, stage designs and installations. Dealing with visual landscaping and engaging in cross-disciplinary work that delves into the realms of space, body and design, Neon Tights has collaborated extensively with numerous theatre and arts groups in Singapore.
Brian Gothong Tan
Brian Gothong Tan is one of the leading creatives in Singapore and is best known for his cutting-edge and highly engaging works in theatre, film and installation art. He graduated from the highly renowned California Institute of the Arts in 2005 under the prestigious Shell-NAC Scholarship. His works have been featured in numerous productions which have toured successfully in many countries like Italy, USA and the United Kingdom. His eclectic – and strange – use of multimedia in theatre earned him the “Best Use of Multimedia” award in the 2005 Life! Theatre Awards, as well as “Best Multimedia Design” in 2008 and 2012.
Visual & Costume Designer
Winner of Singapore Young Designer’s Award in 1997 and 1998, David received a DesignSingapore scholarship in 2005 to pursue a BA in Graphic Design at the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London. He then spent two years as art editor at The Future Laboratory, Europe’s leading trend forecasting company. He was also the art editor for international trends magazine, Viewpoint. In 2008, David graduated with distinction with the Master of Arts in Graphic Design from the London College of Communications. He is currently a visual communication lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic School of Design.
And it goes without saying that the drool-some height of ingenuity and tremendous devotion inspired by Jo Kukathas and The Instant Cafe Theatre Company has to be recognised as a national first.
Cake Theatre marries the mundane with the epic, contemporary with ritual, blows ordinary situations and relationships into absurd proportions and works towards an all encompassing intensity that is experienced rather than understood on a purely rational level. Silence and restraint co-exist with eruptions of explosive spectacle, the result is a theatre that is always relevant and challenging.The Directors Forum
Natalie Hennedige’s latest is a truly formidable work, majestic in both its simple beauty and its wild madness. Cuckoo Birds detonates in playful displays of dance, movement and music though it is just as often quietly moving. Like many of Hennedige’s works such as Nothing, the play makes us feel so intensely the emotional impact that fundamental human concerns – in this case, of violence, judgment, shame, compassion and defiance – can have on us. As we swing from the extremes of riotous hilarity to the deepest, darkest recesses of the human soul, we cannot help but reflect on these aspects of our lives that we rarely allow ourselves to acknowledge: how as human beings we hurt others, allow others to hurt us – and how we can ultimately be redeemed.
Birds is enhanced by the detailed work of sound designer Philip Tan and lighting designer Suven Chan but most of all by the ensemble cast, especially a towering Jo Kukathas who simply needs to be cast in every Cake Theatre production from this point onwards.Flying Inkpot