Interview: SRT’s Gaurav Kripalani

As Singapore gets ready for the unveiling of 'ART by Yasmina Reza', we pick the brains of the man who leads the Singapore Repertory Theatre.

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The New York Times called it an “impeccably tailored comedy” while ABC News branded it the “funniest play on Broadway”. Now, those living in Singapore may rejoice for Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) will be bringing back ART, the Tony Award-winning comedy from September 1 till October 1.

Set to be staged at the City Hall Chamber, the play marks a collaboration with National Gallery Singapore that seeks to unveil a longstanding classic within a globally acclaimed iconic collection.

ART by Yasmina Reza first premiered two decades ago in Paris at the Comédie des Champs-Elysées. Since Christopher Hampton translated the play into English, ART has been featured around the world, bagging numerous awards including the Tony Award for Best Play (USA), the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play (UK) and the Molière Award for Best Play (France).

When SRT first staged the production in Asia back in 1998, the play was intensely received in sold-out houses. Fast-forward to 2016, and the non-profit professional theatre company, which first burst into the scene in 1993 with current Artistic and Managing Director Gaurav Kripalani by the reins, is bigger than ever.

We went behind the scenes with Gaurav, who talks to us about theatre, daring to dream and more:

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What brought you to this line?

I come from a family that has always been involved with theatre in one form or another. I performed in my first play when I was eight. Since then, I always knew this was what I wanted to do.

What do you think of Singapore’s theatre culture, and what do you hope to bring to it?

When I started 20 years ago, there were very few things on offer culturally. Everyone referred to Singapore as a boring city. Today, that is no longer the case. We live in one of the most vibrant cosmopolitan cities in the world, where you can attend the opening of a play, art exhibition, concert, club or restaurant every day of the week. I think Singapore Repertory Theatre has played a part in growing the arts scene in Singapore.

Why do you think theatre is an important aspect of life?

Theatre has the ability to provide catharsis. When done well, I have experienced emotions that I have never felt watching a movie or watching television. Those emotions are shared with the community around you who are watching the same play. You cry together. You laugh together. It's magical.

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