Work started early in the year, from April, for Shrimps in Space. Generasia Limited, a local theatre company who produced the first ever Peranakan Arts Festival last year is proud to present Shrimps in Space this November. The play is written in 1999 by Desmond Sim, and first performed by Hossan Leong. In this rendition, we have up-and-coming theatre personality Hang Qian Chou shouldering the mammoth solo act of the ‘shrimp’ – Hay Bee. This is his 10th year in theatre, and this will be his nth play. Having been trained in the Suzuki Method for a couple of years now, Qian Chou has mentioned before that he feels more grounded on stage. We, the audience, will get to witness this maturing of his theatrical skills in this play, where he gets to hog the entire stage (and limelight) to himself. It is a challenge, as much as it is an opportune treat for Qian Chou.
In our post-preview talk, he exclaims excitedly that the biggest difference in performing a monologue is that he needs not worry about having to accommodate another cast or character who is sharing the same theatre space. He gets a say in how he wants to shape or sculpt his character, Huat Bee, otherwise dearly known as Hay Bee. As he rattles on happily about the free rein he is given, we see director Jeffrey Tan nodding away. He admits so, but of course, with some premises intact.
Prior to that, we were treated to an energetic preview of Act 1 Scenes 1 to 4 of Desmond Sim’s Shrimps in Space. I thought it is really a privilege to watch Qian Chou take command of the entire floor, and that we were seated on par with the performer. The intimacy of sharing the same space as performer and audience, as oppose to a proscenium setting, allows us to feel the full impact of Qian Chou’s energy, directed at the audience. The stage is bare, except for a table and two chairs (which I failed to notice until director Jeffrey Tan mentioned because my eyes were busy following the protagonist around the room).
The preview ended with a surprise change of costume by Qian Chou on stage, leaving a cliffhanger for us. We are certainly looking forward to see Qian Chou’s take on the chronicles of Huat Bee’s life.
About Hang Qian Chou／韩乾畴
Qian Chou first worked with Nine Years Theatre on Twelve Angry Men and played Peter Stockmann in NYT Ensemble Project’s debut production of An Enemy of the People.
He graduated from the NUS Theatre Studies Programme and has also trained at David Diamond’s Theatre for Living (Vancouver, Canada) and Ecole Philippe Gaulier’s Summer School (Paris, France). He was also in the pioneer cohort of W!LD Rice’s actors’ training programme young & W!LD. He is currently a practitioner of the Suzuki Method of Actor Training and Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints.
He has won three Life! Theatre Awards for Best Ensemble for his work in Twelve Angry Men, Lao Jiu: The Musical and Mad Forest and was similarly nominated for Own Time Own Target and The Hypochondriac.
Qian Chou is a founding and core member of NYT Ensemble Project.