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Adeeb is the Artistic Director of The Second Breakfast Company, which he co-founded in 2015. With the company, he has directed works such as Family (2016), Performing Malay Sketches (2019), The Singapore Trilogy (2021), and The Essential Playlist (2022). Adeeb has also directed works under the likes of Toy Factory Productions, Bhumi Collective, Gateway Theatre, NUS Centre for the Arts and The Arts House.
I would describe my style with one word—economy. I find it important to have a clear idea of the beats in the play, as a clear journey will help the audience in the storytelling, without all the frills. Economy is also in the way the performer uses the words on the script—sometimes you can say a lot through acting with fewer words.
I enjoyed my time co-creating devised works during my time at Yellow Chair Productions. I was then given the opportunity to direct a few things, starting with staged readings. When we assembled The Second Breakfast Company, it naturally came to be that I would direct the shows because I had the most experience in that area. I enjoyed it a lot, and kept doing it and looking for ways to learn and improve.
The Paiseh Pieces in February this year. This was a dream production for me, having written and directed a whole new Singaporean musical. It was the biggest production that Second Breakfast would produce and our first musical—and an original one at that. The good thing is we had also assembled an amazing team of people who were there to share in the vision and make the work come to life. I am grateful for the people at Wisma Geylang Serai for taking a chance on us.
Last year, I acted in Boom, which played 11 shows under A Mirage and was directed by Lim Shien Hian. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of rehearsing and performing in that, and learned so much along the way. I also enrolled in Playwrights’ Cove at The Necessary Stage where I had the opportunity to learn the craft of playwriting from Haresh Sharma. I also joined Critics’ Circle Blog led by Theo Chen, and have written a few theatre reviews.
A good director is the facilitator of problem-solving. Not only do you need to work with your performers to decode a script before performing it, you must also handle the negotiations between your designers, whether it is about space on stage, or the real estate on the overhead rigs, or even the fight for bigger budgets for each department.
That the director just needs to tell people where to stand. Obviously, the director’s work involves a lot more than that. Before and between rehearsals, the director is doing a whole bunch of research, planning and reviewing of the work’s progress. The director is in meetings with the respective designers, the producers, the playwright and stage managers to discuss every creative, administrative and logistical aspect that would need the director’s input. The director also works through the script with the performers and clarifies their character journeys.
I would like to see more risk being taken in the curation by theatre companies, venues, festivals and institutions. I would like to see more work programmed from early career theatre directors and independent directors. Let’s take more risks, lest we stagnate and churn out cookie-cutter theatre.