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The Toy Factory play 'Grind’ gives a voice to the LGBT community

The new play by Toy Factory explores Singapore’s gay community through the eyes of four of its (marginalised) members

It’s been a while since Toy Factory put on an original English play, but now they’re back with Grind, a work that brings together theatre, art installation and soundscape into one immersive production. It touches on the topics of love, lust and family as refracted through the experiences of four local gay men. We speak to artistic director Goh Boon Teck to find out more.

'We must not discriminate a teacher if he is gay, dear Singapore. This is very wrong'

How did the concept of Grind come about?

We are keen to explore the psyche of gay men [in our current society], discussing their problems and issues in this rather ‘open’ and ‘liberal’ 21st century. We feel that they are emotionally, physically and sexually grinding each other and themselves up – we are staging the causes. 

How do you think Grind fits within the conversations that are currently taking place in Singapore?

While gay issues are loud and out in many foreign countries, Singapore chooses to regress and hide under the carpet. We hope that the system will stop grinding this group of minority into ashes – this is simply not right. We must not discriminate a teacher if he is gay, dear Singapore. This is very wrong. Grind is a sentimental story to remind us of respect and diversity in humankind.

Have there been – or do you anticipate – any issues with the MDA?

We are communicating very closely with the MDA on the script and staging. We believe that the MDA wants a better and more embracing Singapore, too. 

Goh Boon Teck

'We hope that this play will expand the national level of tolerance and increase the receptive level on diversity'

The production features relatively new theatre practitioners. Did you find them through auditions, or have you worked with them before?

They were all selected through auditions. It’s my honour to work with these young, fearless and dynamic actors. They are refreshing to the scene and audiences.  

Grind sees Toy Factory returning to the black box space after 12 years. Why did you decide to go back to this setting?

We are one of the very few local theatre companies producing plays for grand theatres. After gaining so much experience in working with big spaces, we missed doing lab works or smaller experimental pieces. We are glad to present this immersive theatre piece in a black box.

Tell us more about the art installation and music elements of the play.

We are setting up the space like a maze inside our minds, and audiences will enter and explore our thoughts and texts in this installation. We are planning the music and sound before the rehearsal of cast members, curating the styles, beats, tempo and pace to tell the stories. 

What do you hope this play can achieve?

We hope that this play will expand the national level of tolerance and increase the receptive level on diversity.

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