Esplanade Presents


Acting Mad

An Esplanade Commission
The Necessary Stage (Singapore)

25 – 28 Aug 2022

View dates and time

1hr 30mins

(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Theatre Studio

This event is over.

About the Event

Mental illness does not discriminate. Although there is more access to information, many still suffer silently or face stigma when they come out with their illness. What is this experience like for actors in Singapore? Are they expected to just deal with their mental health issues because they are seen as “tortured artists” and “so full of drama”? 


As part of The Necessary Stage’s exploratory platform, The Orange Production in 2019, the company first presented the work-in-progress showing of Acting Mad, a verbatim play based on interviews with 20 actors who have experienced or are going through mental health issues. This iteration, commissioned by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay for The Studios 2022, incorporates new interview texts and testimonies, as well actors’ responses to the pandemic and its impact on them. 


Can sharing our stories and creating theatre be a form of solace and support? 


Writer/Director: Haresh Sharma
Performers: Ghafir Akbar, Karen Tan, Masturah Oli and Tan Guo Lian Sutton
Choreographer: Edith Podesta
Assistant Director: Deonn Yang 
Set Designer: Vincent Lim  
Lighting Designer: Yo Shao Ann 
Sound Designer: Te Hao Boon 
Support Facilitator:  Rosie McGowan 
Assistant Choreographer: Ryan Ang 
Dramaturg:  Sindhura Kalidas 
Multimedia Designer:  M. Nurfadhli Jasni 
Multimedia Consultant: Brian Gothong Tan  




Mask-wearing is required for all indoor events.

There will be a post-show dialogue after each performance.

Acting Mad is performed with open captions in English.

Content Warning:
This production includes content about sexual abuse, suicide and self-harm and certain scenes in the performance may be distressing for some individuals. If you would like to find out more before purchasing your tickets, please contact us at All correspondence will be kept confidential. Thank you.

Recommended Age: Advisory 16: Mature themes and coarse language. Recommended for 16 years and above.
Admission Age:
Language: English
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About the Artists

Haresh Sharma

Haresh has been the Resident Playwright of The Necessary Stage since 1990. He was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2015. To date, he has written more than 120 plays which have been staged in over 20 cities. His play, Off Centre, was selected by the Ministry of Education as a Literature text for GCE N- and O-Levels. 


Haresh has 13 publications of his plays, including Trilogy, Shorts 1, Shorts 2, Don't Forget to Remember Me and Abuse Suxxx!!! and Other Plays. His works have been translated into Malay, Mandarin, Greek and Italian. He was awarded Best Original Script for Fundamentally Happy, Good People and Gemuk Girls at the 2007, 2008 and 2009 The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards respectively. Most recently in 2021, Haresh published Reading the Room: A Playwright’s Devising Journey, which details his devising process developed over his career at TNS. Haresh also had the honour of having a selection of his works featured at Esplanade’s first playwright-centred season at The Studios in 2017.  


He has participated in several writers' festivals including the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival in New York (2014), New Delhi World Book Fair (2015), Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (2015), Hong Kong Literary Festival (2015) and Neilson Hays Bangkok Literature Festival (2019).  


Haresh is the first non-American to be awarded the prestigious Goldberg Master Playwright by New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2011.  In 2014, he was conferred the Southeast Asian Writers (or S.E.A. Write) Award (Singapore), which recognises and honours literary excellence in the ASEAN region.   

The Necessary Stage

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Established in 1987, The Necessary Stage (TNS) is a non-profit theatre company with charity status. Our mission is to create challenging, indigenous and innovative theatre that touches the heart and mind. TNS has the honour of being the only arts company in Singapore helmed by two Cultural Medallion recipients: Artistic Director and Founder Alvin Tan and Resident Playwright Haresh Sharma. The company is also the organiser and curator of the annual M1 Singapore Fringe Festival.  


TNS is supported by the National Arts Council under the Major Company Scheme for the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2023.  

Date & Time

Open Captioning

25 Aug 2022, Thu


Esplanade Theatre Studio

26 Aug 2022, Fri


Esplanade Theatre Studio

27 Aug 2022, Sat


Esplanade Theatre Studio


Esplanade Theatre Studio

28 Aug 2022, Sun


Esplanade Theatre Studio


Esplanade Theatre Studio
There will be a post-show dialogue after each performance.
Tickets and Prices

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Price $38 $30

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