SINGAPORE – The Singapore Repertory Theatre is the first company to commission and produce a work about Covid-19, made specifically for these circuit breaker times. The Coronalogues – Silver Linings, which premieres on Facebook Live on Tuesday (May 26), will have new work by nine writers, performed by nine actors.

SRT director Charlotte Nors, 53, says: “With this, we try our best to ‘make lemonade’ as life threw lemons at us.”

The company, like all other theatre companies, has suffered box office losses as Covid-19 shut down performing arts venues. But as Ms Nors says, theatre has to find ways forward: “How do we keep telling stories? And very importantly how do we keep contributing in a meaningful way to the livelihood of our freelancers, who are very hard hit by all the cancellations.”

The production is supported by the National Arts Council’s Digital Presentation Grant, which is part of the Government’s $55 billion Arts And Culture Resilience Package, announced on April 7.

The writers contributing to The Coronalogues span generations and genders, including comedian Rishi Budhrani, singer/songwriter Dick Lee, and actress Jo Tan.

Lee, 64, says he thought of contributing a song: “As this is a spoken word event, here are my lyrics to a song of your imagination, about a regular part of my CB routine, which turns into an epic adventure for my own amusement, and now, hopefully, yours.”

The production is a mini-SRT reunion of sorts. The actor for Tan’s segment is Tan Shou Chen, whom she met when they were both young actors with the SRT Young Company. Her piece, Stay Home Notice, drew inspiration from nomadic friends who chose to return home because of travel restrictions only to be stuck in hotels where “their only view of Singapore for two weeks was of our famous skyline and tourist attractions, now desolate”.

Tan, 38, adds: ” It’s an image that’s beautiful and strange, and I wondered how that fits in with the idea of the ‘home’ they were expecting to come back to.”

Budhrani, 36, was drawn into the project by director Daniel Jenkins, 51, who taught him at the SRT Young Company.

His contribution will be about love in the time of a pandemic: “I hope it’s a story that gives us all a bit of hope; hope that despite the insanity, we can all find something we’ve been missing; be it courage, love or simply, some avocado oil.”

Jenkins who directed four of the nine pieces, says: “It was so important to celebrate Singapore’s resilience, strength and pride during these obviously difficult times.

“As our industry has been decimated and so many artists are struggling, it is important to offer hope, togetherness and a reminder of how important art is, particularly during these dark times.”

WATCH IT

What: The Coronalogues – Silver Linings

When: May 26, 8pm

Where: Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Facebook page

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