Interview: Playwright Joel Tan on No Particular Order
We caught up with playwright Joel Tan on his new political power play ‘No Particular Order’, which is coming to Theatre 503.
Tell us about ‘No Particular Order’ and how it came about.
This is the first play i wrote after moving to London from Singapore, and I was trying to make sense of how to connect those two realities, and so I started writing these scenes about people struggling to lead ordinary lives under power, corruption, and aggression. The play traces a nameless society in an unspecified time as it goes through tremendous political upheaval, and it comes from this sense that many of the same kinds of stories– of societies disintegrating under conflict– can map onto various places and periods throughout our recent history.
Who or what inspires you to make work like this?
It comes from a very personal place of having come from a country where state power practically crystallises on your skin, when you step back from it, it can be a very surreal experience.
What would be your advice to playwrights just starting out and wanting to show their work in London?
The best advice ever given to me was from my first playwriting teacher, who said: write the plays you want to see staged, that you don’t see being staged, that only you can write.
What are your favourite London & Singapore haunts?
Singapore: The beautiful new Ngee Ann Kongsi theatre run by the folks at Wildrice, any number of cheap sweaty kopitiam zichar joints in the East, and a now-defunct club called Kilo, RIP.
No Particular Order by Joel Tan runs from 31 May to 18 June at Theatre 503.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.