The Theatre Practice has etched out a pivotal and long-cherished spot in local theatre and cultural history. Through the years, The Theatre Practice has marched forward upon the strength of their bilingualism.They continually introduce classic gems, while also encouraging original creations; they strive to inject local flavour in their pieces, while also keeping themselves open to the infinite possibilities in the global arena. From the very beginning, The Theatre Practice has been a pioneer in Arts Education, bringing countless workshops and performances into schools, and nurturing several generations of Singaporeans.
Goh Lay Kuan is synonymous with the birth of modern Singapore theatre. The Singapore dance pioneer and arts activist co-founded Practice Arts School (renamed in 2010 as The Theatre Practice) with her late husband Kuo Pao Kun. As principal, teacher and choreographer of its dance wing, she created acclaimed dance works including Singapore’s first full-length modern dance, Nu Wa – Mender of the Heavens, in 1988. Hard times hit her and her husband, Kuo Pao Kun, when they were detained without trial in 1976 for alleged communist tendencies in their works. Lay Kuan, then dubbed “The Red Ballerina” by the press, was soon released but Pao Kun was in jail for four and a half years. Meanwhile, she cared for their two young daughters and ran the school. The school was revitalised when Pao Kun was freed in 1980 and resumed writing plays and staging productions. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Lay Kuan expanded her dance repertoire, exploring traditional Chinese, Indian and Indonesian dance, and training in modern dance at the Martha Graham School in New York. She was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1995.