Kuo Pao Kun (1939 - 2002)
A prolific bilingual playwright and director, Kuo Pao Kun co-founded Practice Performing Arts School in 1965 (together with choreographer/dancer Goh Lay Kuan), after graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney. He founded major theatre company The Theatre Practice and remained its Artistic Director until he passed away in 2002.
These institutions and the artists they fostered were inspired by Pao Kun’s unique multicultural approach and commitment to developing Singapore art and artists while drawing from the great traditions and innovations of other countries. He also founded The Substation, Singapore’s first arts centre, in 1990 and remained its Artistic Director until 1995, establishing an open space for artists to explore and develop as well as to perform and exhibit.
In 2000, he founded the Theatre Training & Research Programme together with T. Sasitharan, putting into practice a part of his vision of Open Cultures in this programme that trains actors using the interaction of systems of training and conceptions of theatre from different cultures. He remained Co-Director of the TTRP until his death in 2002.
Kuo’s plays, apart from his own Chinese and English versions, have been translated into Malay, Tamil, Hindi, Japanese and German, and have been performed in many Asian countries as well as in America, Australia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Honorary Positions, Fellowships and Awards
- Advisor, National Arts Council, Singapore
- Advisor, Chinese Newspaper Group, Singapore Press Holdings
- Advisor, Drama Project, Chinese University, Hong Kong
- 1989 Fulbright Professional Exchange Fellowship, USA
- 1997 Asian Leadership Fellowship Program, Japan
- 1989 Cultural Medallion, Singapore Government
- 1992 Culture Award, JCCI, Singapore
- 1993 ASEAN Cultural Award (Performing Arts)
- 1996 Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knighthood of Arts and Letters), French Government
- 2002 Excellence for Singapore Award, Singapore Totalisator Board
T. Sasitharan (Co-Founder and Director)
Together with the late Kuo Pao Kun, T. Sasitharan (Sasi) conceived and established TTRP in 2000. Prior to that, he was Artistic Director of The Substation from April 1996 to August 2000.
From 1988 to 1996 he was the theatre and visual art critic with The Straits Times, where he also served as the arts editor for ‘Life!’. An important writer and commentator, he has had 14 articles ranging from commentaries on Singapore culture and the arts to reviews of performances, exhibitions, talks and catalogue entries published both in Singapore and abroad. He taught Philosophy at the National University of Singapore from 1983 to 1989.
For more than 30 years, Sasi has been actively involved as an actor/performer and producer in the local theatre scene. One of Singapore’s finest actors, he has performed in more than 25 plays directed by Singaporeans Chandra Lingam, Max Le Blond, Ong Keng Sen and Kuo Pao Kun.
Sasi has been invited to lecture on Theatre, Theatre Training and Education, Theatre Criticism, Aesthetics and Creativity both at home and abroad, including UNESCO’s Forum on Communication and Cultural Expression in the Dominican Republic, at the 4th World Summit on Arts & Culture in Johannesburg, the International Association of Theatre Critics in Hong Kong, the Instituto De Estudos Europeus in Macau, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Columbia University, the University of Buffalo, New York, the Shanghai Theatre Academy, the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and the National School of Drama in New Delhi. He has served on the Boards and Panels of several Singaporean and multinational institutions including: The Substation, National Arts Council, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore International Foundation, National Book Development Council and the Asian Arts Network.
Sasi holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the National University of Singapore.
In 2012, he received the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest honour for artists, from the President. His nomination for the Cultural Medallion was supported by artists of all disciplines in Singapore, and by artists, academics and educators from all over the world.
Board of Directors
Mr Arun Mahizhnan
Dr Kwok Kian Woon
Mr Chew Kheng Chuan
Dr Nazry Bahrawi
Mr Tan Tarn How
Ms Winifred Loh
Mr Philip Jeyaretnam, SC (Chairman, 2008 to 2015)
Mr David Chiem
Mr Abel T. van Staveren