Ivan Heng

The ground-breaking Singaporean actor and theatre director has worked tirelessly to create a world-class local theatre scene

Ivan Heng needs little introduction. The founding artistic director of Wild Rice, the Peranakan actor and playwright and is noted for his provocative work on stage tackling themes such as identity, migration and more. Off stage, he makes headlines as a passionate advocate for diversity and freedom of expression.  
 
Heng worked in the UK and Europe until 1998, and returned home to help develop Singapore’s art scene. He founded Wild Rice in 2000, a company known for its boundary-pushing work including original musical retellings of fairytales from the West (Peter Pan in Serangoon GardensSnow White and The Seven Dwarfs) to the East (Monkey Goes WestMama White Snake). Over the last two decades, he has also served as artistic director of the inaugural Singapore Theatre Festival (2006), creative director of Singapore’s National Day Parade (2009) and more. The extensive repertoire earned Heng the Cultural Medallion in 2013, the country’s highest arts accolade. 
 
In 2020, Heng worked with two other leading names of Singaporean theatre, Adrian Pang of Pangdemonium and Gaurav Kripalani of SRT. It was the first time the trio joined forces to work on Ken Kwek’s short film The Pitch. The following year saw them regroup for The Commission (part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts), which marked the first stage collaboration between the three companies. Tickets to The Commission sold out within 30 minutes, but only about 35 per cent of seats at Wild Rice’s Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre were filled due to pandemic restrictions. 

Tatler Asia