Singaporean director Kok Heng Leun on “The Spirits Play” staged recently at the 12th Bharat Rang Mahotsav.

“Working with a group of actors drawn from various countries is the most challenging task for me and more so when the actors deliver their lines in their respective languages,” says Kok Heng Leun, a young and talented stage director from Singapore who presented his production “The Spirits Play” at the ongoing 12th Bharat Rang Mahotsav in New Delhi.

“Since such a group needs a play with universal relevance, we selected this drama which deals with the devastating effects of war. It is formless and without a story. So, I conceived my production on the pattern of Japanese Noh theatre, which deals with spirits. Moreover, my actors are trained in traditional theatre like Noh as well as in contemporary acting techniques. This is the right form to create the world of spirits.”

Written by Kuo Pao Kun, “The Sprits Play” is a severe indictment of war, conveying a passionate pacifist message. The live music, the expressionistic sets, the stylised lighting, highly controlled actors and intensely expressive body language and long silences vividly evoke the world of spirits threatened by past memories, guilt and the senselessness of war.

The characters narrate with bitterness the lives when they were alive and the circumstances in which they became the casualty of a war fought in the name of national glory and in defence of sovereignty. The denouement is marked by a serenity imbued with poetic lyricism and stirring human soul.

Winner of many laurels, Kok Hen has worked with actors from Hong Kong, Mexico, Japan, Singapore and our own Mohamed Noushad who delivers his lines in Malayalam. Apart from being a bilingual theatre practitioner, Kok Hen is an innovative set and lighting designer. He has directed nearly 40 plays in English and Mandarin. As an artistic director of “Drama Box”, he has been able to transform it as a vehicle to address contemporary social issues.

Kok Hen Leun is of the view that his country has no specific traditional art forms and calls it a ‘cultural orphan' which has been assimilating traditions from other Asian countries.