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Young SG Directors: Myra Loke

The director without words


Published: 12 Sep 2023

Time taken : <5mins

Myra is a puppeteer and performer with over a decade of experience in theatre. In 2020, Myra directed her first main season production with puppetry company The Finger Players (TFP). Titled Peepbird (2020), the non-verbal performance featured movement and puppetry, and has the distinction of being one of the first in-theatre shows with a live audience since the closure of performance venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Myra went on to direct further non-verbal puppetry shows, namely Little Mournings (2021) and No Disaster on this Land (2022). She most recently stepped down from her role as Co-Artistic Director of TFP, but remains a core team member of the company.

What sort of director are you?

I find myself gravitating towards creating non-verbal performances. There's something enchanting about the way these performances leave space for our imaginations and allow emotions to flow freely and deeply.

Myra Loke in rehearsal for <em>Peepbird</em> (2020). Image credit: Benson Lim

What got you into directing for theatre?

As a student, I watched a show titled Cat, Lost & Found by The Finger Players, and it felt effortlessly magical and evocative. From that moment, I knew I wanted to create works that allow people to experience wonder and lightness. I guess that is also when I started being interested in puppetry. 

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

Directing Peepbird was an unforgettable experience, especially during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The performance venue was changed just two weeks before opening, and the team had to quickly revise designs and blocking, which was no easy feat. It was also my first time directing a non-verbal performance, and I felt a lot of self-doubt. I remember sitting in the theatre during technical run and crying. Is this good enough? Will people find meaning in watching this? Am I wasting the audience's time, and the team's efforts? Peepbird is a show that I remember dearly, and I'm so grateful to Ellison (the playwright) and everyone else who supported this production. 

<em>Peepbird</em> (2020). Image credit: Tuckys Photography

Do you do anything else in theatre besides directing?

Yes, I enjoy performing, and designing and making puppets and props. I have also been curious about puppetry and its therapeutic purposes.

What superpower do you think a good director needs?

Having witnessed the processes of numerous directors, such as Kok Heng Leun, Li Xie, Oliver Chong, Chong Tze Chien, Tan Beng Tian, Ong Kian Sin, and Alvin Tan, one common quality that they share is their genuine care for the audience. It isn't some fancy superpower, but rather it's a heartfelt sense of responsibility and attentiveness to their audience's experience. It’s a quality I also hope to have in my own work.

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

That the director has ultimate authority. A production thrives on teamwork, with each member chosen for their expertise. So I believe each team member should have their own space and agency. 

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

I have noticed the support offered to young directors like myself. I believe it is through practice that we can refine our craft, become better storytellers, and contribute to Singapore theatre. 

 So I do hope to see more opportunities that not only allow younger directors to flourish but also provide a safe space for practice and growth, even if it means encountering failure along the way. 

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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