A Language of Our Own: Singapore Writer’s Festival 2019

For many years when teaching Intercultural Dramaturgy in Singapore at ITI (Intercultural Theatre Institute), I’ve been delighted to coincide with the November Singapore Writers’ Festival. Over several festivals, I’ve participated in workshops by luminaries such as Paul Muldoon and Karen Joy Fowler and attended book launches and readings by some of the leading lights in Singapore literature, and beyond. I’ve always hugely enjoyed the festival for its mix of ‘local’ and international writers and this year I feel privileged to be amongst those presenting, as well as attending as an audience member.

The festival’s theme this year is ‘A Language Of Our Own:’

This year we invite you to join us in considering all the ways in which the verbal, physical and visual languages we use every day affect how we see the world. Language heals and language hurts. Language can tie down and language can transform. In a world that is so simultaneously connected and fractured, who has language left behind? What has language taught us about the past and how must language evolve to accommodate a changing humanity

This seemed an ideal context for the Asian launch of The ‘d’ Monologues – my collection of solos written for Deaf and disabled performers, informed by interviews and conversations with people about the lived experience of disability. It comes a year after the production of ‘And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore/UK ‘d’ Monologues with Access Path Productions at Gallery Theatre, National Museums Singapore, last May (previous blog posts about this International Unlimited Commission are available here and here). I’m thrilled to have the opportunity of sharing some fictional monologues inspired by an in-depth research project led by Peter Sau with Lee Lee Lim, and colleagues with and about disabled and Deaf people in Singapore. I’m also leading a workshop reconsidering ableist language and challenging the stereotypical ways difference has been presented in our media and literature for generations.
Details of both events are below.

You Say ‘Inclusive’, I Say ‘Subversive’

3 Nov, Sun 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

National Gallery Singapore, Rooftop Studio 3
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Join a practical writing workshop led by award winning writer and disability activist Kaite O’Reilly. Participants will be invited to consider how to be more inclusive and representative in the creation of characters, perspectives, narratives, and fictional worlds. The workshop will include examples of poetry, fiction, and plays written by disabled and D/deaf writers working from a politicised and cultural perspective, who have created a language of their own, refuting mainstream ableism and reclaiming previously negative words and terminology. Participants will be encouraged to consider new narratives, with new protagonists, new endings, and a refreshed language.


Kaite O’Reilly


Playwright and poet Kaite O’Reilly has won many awards, including the Ted Hughes Award for New Works in Poetry for Persians. Widely published and produced, she works internationally. A veteran of the UK’s Disabled People’s Movement, her 2018 International Unlimited Commission And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore/UK ‘d’ Monologues was a dialogue about difference and diversity, premiering in Singapore and transferring to London’s Southbank. It is published by Oberon. http://www.kaiteoreilly.com

The ‘d’ Monologues: A Lecture-Performance by Kaite O’Reilly

2 Nov, Sat 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

The Arts House, Play Den
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This lecture-performance scripted by award-winning writer and disability activist Kaite O’ Reilly celebrates difference and challenges preconceptions of disability. 15 years in the making and inspired by interviews with disabled people across the world, ‘d’ Monologues’ launch at the Festival puts an emphasis on the lived experience of disability in Singapore. Come experience performers subverting the language of ableism and celebrate all the possibilities of human variety.

Produced by Access Path Productions

Access Path Productions, the creative education wing of EnCre8, believes the public should have access to a quality cultural life and artistic community. We ethically and respectively present theatrical projects and human experiences centered on the narratives and talents of the marginalized and invisible.

Our coordination and facilitation of community- based care and support via the arts strives to break down social barriers, challenge processes of art making for and with local audiences.



Danial Bawthan (Wheelsmith)

Danial Bawthan, or Wheelsmith, is an award-winning music producer, rapper, and wheelchair rugby player for Team Singapore. He performed with Singaporean celebrities for the President’s Star Charity 2016 and made his debut as a sound engineer, composing soundscapes for the theatre production And Suddenly I Disappear, the Singapore/UK ‘d’ Monologues. He also performed at the National Day Parade 2019.

Grace Lee-Khoo

Grace Lee Khoo is the Founder and Creative Development Director of Access Path Productions. A director, performer, educator, producer, and researcher who works internationally, she completed her MA in applied theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (2016), her BA from the National University of Singapore’s Theatre Studies Program (2009), and PGDE from the National Institute of Education (2010). In 2017, Grace was an international artist-in-residence at Graeae Theatre Company (London).



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