You often deal with mental health issues in your productions, and have spoken up about how you had your own dark period last year during the pandemic. What first motivated your interest in the topic, and for you to speak up about it?
In 2013, we discovered a Broadway musical called Next to Normal. It’s about this family dealing with the mother, who was suffering from bipolar disorder. We fell in love with it, the story, the characters, the music; we found it very, very powerful and meaningful. So we got the rights for it, staged it, and it just struck a chord with so many people who came to see it, not just as a piece of entertainment, but about the message about it as well.
We got to meet some incredible people who are caregivers of people with bipolar disorder, as well as the people living with the condition. It was such an inspiring, humbling experience for us. We eventually became so intrigued and so passionate about wanting to keep the conversation going, and from then on, we staged at least five other plays that are mental health related.
Finally, having had a personal intimate experience with a mental health issue myself, made this topic to be something very close to me and my family's heart. It's very exciting for me as a 55 year old man, to know that I'm living in a community now in Singapore, in an Asian society where this topic has been such taboo and been so stigmatised for a long time, that people are not as afraid to talk about it now. We've got to treat mental illness as an illness. There is treatment, and there’s no shame in seeking treatment.