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Young SG Directors: Adeeb Fazah

The economical director


Published: 31 Aug 2023

Time taken : <5mins

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.

What sort of director are you?

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.

What got you into directing for theatre?

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.

<em>The Paiseh Pieces</em> (2023). Image credit: Poh Yu Khing

What's one favourite/memorable show you have directed and why?

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.

Do you do anything else in theatre besides directing?

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.

What superpower do you think a good director needs?

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. 

Adeeb Fazah (left) in rehearsal with Shaifulbahri Mohamad (right), for <em>Tampines Boy</em>, an upcoming production by Bahri & Co. Image credit: Bahri & Co.

What is the strangest misconception you’ve heard about directing in theatre?

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.


What would you like to see more of in Singapore theatre?

I would like to see more risk-taking, especially from the players with the resources (space, money and manpower).

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.

Contributed by:

Daniel Teo

Daniel Teo is a freelance writer. Previously, he worked at Centre 42, a theatre development centre, as a researcher, archivist and documenter.

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