Headline Acts | January 2023

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Masthead Image
19 January 2023 | 8:00 - 9:30pm
Black Box, 42 Waterloo Street

This is a by-invite event. We welcome anyone interested to register to be on our guest list. Confirmation of seats will be emailed to you closer to the event date.

Headline Acts is a fun and informal reading series open to writers of all experience levels wishing to showcase plays or scenes. The only rule is, each work is a short (10-15 minutes) dramatic pieces that respond to recent headlines.

Each edition of Headline Acts will be "headlined" by a guest writer, and the remaining 3 acts selected via open call on a first-come-first served basis.

The Open Call period has closed on 15 December 2022, and we are pleased to announce the 3 shortlisted acts are: 

  1. "Penetration" by Edward Eng
  2. "I Am Seaweed" by Cheryl Ho
  3. "Baguette" by Mary Tay


The inaugural January 2023 edition will be headlined by guest writer Jo Tan.

This is a closed-door, by-invite event. If you are interested to attend, please register via the link/form here.

Event (19 Jan 2023)

The session was opened by the host of the evening, Lucas Ho. Joel Tan, the Creative Associate with Centre 42 for New Writing Development Programmes, was invited to introduce what Headline Acts was all about. Four playwrights were selected to have their works read on the evening.

Joel Tan and Lucas Ho are presenting to an audience in a black box.

To keep with the style of a 'scratch-night' event, lots were drawn to determine the order of presentation for the four playwrights. The order of presentation for the playwrights were: Cheryl Ho, Mary Tay, Edward Eng and Jo Tan.

Jo Tan, Mary Tay and Cheryl Ho are holding and looking at slips of paper in their hands.
“I Am Seaweed” by Cheryl Ho
Responding to the headline "Grapes, seaweed and ice plants: The unexpected crops farms in Singapore are growing"
Cheryl Ho stands in front of a microphone and performs, while Cheryl Tan is seated next to her reading from a script.

View more at: Centre 42 Facebook


I am Seaweed follows a woman on her quest to become as resilient, self-sufficient and as versatile as Seaweed. The show questions our society’s perceptions of beauty and worth. It also questions our country's hustle culture and desire for self-reliance and sufficiency.

Performed by: Cheryl Ho
Directed by: Tan Hui Er 
Stage Directions read by: Cheryl Tan Yun Xin

“Baguette” by Mary Tay
Responding to the headline "French baguette secures spot on UNESCO cultural heritage list"
From left to right, Mary Tay is seated and reading from a script, Nicholas Chen is speaking to Claire Tay, and Rachel Chin is standing on the far end with her arms outstretched.

View more at: Centre 42 Facebook


To avoid an awkward conversation about sex with her husband, a self-conscious young woman entangles herself in what she does not realise is a baguette-obsessed sex cult.

Performed by: Rachel Chin, Nicholas Chen, Claire Tay
Staged directions read by: Mary Tay

"Penetration" by Edward Eng
Responding to the headline "Experimental Alzheimer’s drug found to slow progression of disease: NUH"
Karen Tan and Julius Foo are seated at a table, Karen having a shocked expression on her face as Julius looks on.

View more at: Centre 42 Facebook


In Penetration, two 60-somethings are about to have special occasion sex, this time with a groundbreaking new drug which tackles Alzheimer's disease. Hilarity ensues.

Performed by: Karen Tan and Julius Foo
Directed by: Tan Hui Er

“Vox Populi” by Jo Tan
Responding to the headline "Jackson Wang Declares Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore is the Best in the World"
Jo Tan stands behind Dennis Sofian, looking menacingly over his shoulder as he mimics the action of typing.

View more at: Centre 42 Facebook


As assistant-assistant director at a local statutory board, Tia Toh must use a new AI programme to 'deepen national identity and strengthen community bonds in Singapore.' But when a series of national online campaigns are met with popular derision, Tia and Govfrey the AI decide the best way to understand Singapore's netizens is something they have always been warned against - They must explore the Comment Sections.

Performer by: Dennis Sofian and Jo Tan
Directed by: Renee Chua

The evening ended after a successful presentation of all the acts.

Playwrights, actors and directors for Headline Acts stand in a row with Lucas Ho standing in front of them for curtain call.

Check out our Facebook album for more photos and details of the night!

Register to Attend

To attend as an audience member:

Open Call for Acts!

[CLOSED - The application window for the Open Call has closed on 11 Dec, 5pm as we have filled all 3 slots.] 

There are only 3 slots for the January 2023 Headline Acts edition, and selection is on a first-come-first-served basis. We will close the application window once we’ve filled all 3 slots. 

To sign up as a writer/performer

  • Simply tell us the headline you’d like to respond to
  • Provide a short liner about what your piece is about (it’s fine if this eventually changes!)
  • There are no restrictions on content except that the play or scenes be 15 minutes long at maximum, and respond robustly to a headline of your choice. 

Participants will rehearse and present their work independently. Centre 42 will only provide a $100 honorarium towards covering any associated costs, e.g. honoraria for readers, a director, etc.

Keep things simple, if you can! This is a very small scale reading event, with very little time on the day for rehearsal. We cannot support elaborate, tech-heavy set-ups. 



10 Dec (12pm) - 15 Dec 2022 (12pm):

  • Application window is open for writers to sign up!
  • Note that submissions are on a first-come-first-served basis - there are only 3 spots!
  • The Submission Box will close after receiving the first 3 sign ups

19 Dec 2022:

  • Successful sign-ups will be notified
  • Announcement of Headline Acts programme


20 Dec 2022 - 19 Jan 2023:

  • Write & Rehearse
  • Headline Acts takes place LIVE on 19 Jan 2023



Who can apply?

Anyone with an idea for a 10-15 minute play they’d love to put up on stage.

Must my piece respond to a recent headline?

YES - In the spirit of keeping things current and responsive, yes! But there’s no restriction on what that headline is, and you can be as creative as you want with your take on it. Use the prompt as a provocation, a call to arms, an ironic counter-point– anything goes!

What is a dramatic piece? Can I submit a spoken word piece?

These are pieces that use the building blocks of drama in some shape or form: character, dialogue, narrative, space… Spoken word pieces are certainly welcome, but if you already have access to spoken word spaces, we do ask that you consider if this is the best platform to present that work.

Will Centre 42 hire a director, actors, designers… etc for me? Must actors be off-book?

No. Each participant will be given a token sum of money (SGD $100) to cover some costs, e.g. honoraria for collaborators. It’s worth bearing in mind that the spirit of this event is to keep the production light and no frills. What matters is the writing! We welcome script-in-hand performances, though certainly if you’d rather perform off-book that’d be great.

Is there a limit to the number of characters? Can I perform my own work?

There are no limitations as such, and if you can find creative ways to present several voices, that’s amazing. And yes, you can definitely perform your own work.

Can I present older work?

We’d much prefer if you created something specially for the event, but if something you’ve already written happens to be a super electric response to something in the news, we’d be happy to hear it.