Ivan Heng

article - Ivan Heng

Ivan Heng (Chinese: 王愛仁; pinyin: Wáng Àirén;[1] born 20 September 1963) is a Singaporean actor and theatre director of Peranakan descent. He is the founding artistic director of W!LD RICE, a theatre company in Singapore, and an outspoken advocate for respect for diversity and freedom of expression.

Ivan Heng

Heng after a W!LD RICE performance of La Cage (an adaptation of La Cage aux Folles) at the Esplanade Theatre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore, on 29 July 2012
Born (1963-09-20) 20 September 1963 (age 58)

Nationality Singaporean
Alma mater Anglo-Chinese School
Temasek Junior College
National University of Singapore
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Occupation Actor, Theatre Director
Tony Trickett

(m. 2014)

Parent(s) Nancy Ong (mother)
Relatives Tan Kheng Hua
Awards Cultural Medallion (2013)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 王愛仁
Simplified Chinese 王爱仁
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu Pinyin Wáng Àirén
Website www.wildrice.com.sg

Heng is the first male Singaporean actor to break into English-speaking roles in Hollywood films with his role in Luc Besson‘s The Fifth Element, the first female actress from Singapore being Lydia Look, who played a Fuzhou actress in a Jackie Chan Hollywood film.

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A theatre director, actor, playwright and designer, Heng’s productions are concerned with identity, migration and gender and sexual politics within intercultural contexts. They have played festivals and theatres in more than 20 cities around the world including Melbourne International Arts Festival, New Zealand International Arts Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, ICA International Festival of the Chinese Diaspora (London), Hong Kong City Festival, Royal Tropical Institute (Netherlands), SIETAR Congress (Munich), WOTM Conference (Belgium) and Re:Map Festival (Copenhagen).[2]

Heng’s background is in both Asian and Western theatre traditions: training as a director with Kuo Pao Kun of Practice Performing Arts in Singapore; ballet, jazz and contemporary dance as a scholar with Dance Arts Singapore; and training with the Peking Opera in Hong Kong (Hong Kong Tang’s Opera Troupe) and Singapore (Leling Peking Opera Troupe, Chinese Theatre Circle). He also spent a summer at the British American Drama Academy in Oxford. His mentor, colleague and closest collaborator was Krishen Jit with whom he collaborated on M. Butterfly, The Coffin is too Big for the Hole, No Parking on Odd Days, Emily of Emerald Hill and The Visit of the Tai tai.[2]

Heng was educated at Anglo-Chinese School, Temasek Junior College and the National University of Singapore, where he studied law from 1984 to 1988. He was admitted to practice as a lawyer until the acting bug led him to various theatres, winning many awards in Edinburgh, London, Canada and finally Hollywood.[2] Heng was awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest arts honour, in 2013.[3]

Whilst studying for his law degree, Heng attended Kuo’s directing workshop, acted with Singapore Theatre American Repertory Showcase (S*TARS), and directed and designed sets as a founding member of The Necessary Stage.[2]

Heng originated the lead role of Malcolm Png in Michael Chiang‘s Army Daze in 1987. He also played Frankie Wong in Beauty World, and Song Liling in the All-Asian premiere of M. Butterfly in India in 1989 (a role originated on the West End by his future collaborator Glen Goei). Heng also performed in M. Butterfly at the Singapore Arts Festival in 1990.[2]

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. . . Ivan Heng . . .