Goodbye Flying Inkpot

Today we bid goodbye to a veritable institution in Singapore's arts landscape: The Flying Inkpot Theatre & Dance. It's been an absolute pleasure writing for them over the past four years and contributing over 50 theatre reviews to the site.

Check out the wrap articles published today in both ST Life! and TODAY about the Inkpot's amazing 19-year journey. Very pleased to be interviewed by Mayo Martin for the TODAY article (extract below).

Selected members of The Flying Inkpot team: (clockwise from left) Kenneth Kwok, Karin Lai, Jocelyn Chng, Naeem Kapadia, Selina Chong and Matthew Lyon. Photo Credit: Jason Ho/TODAY.


“Among The Flying Inkpot’s most recent batch of writers are Naeem Kapadia and Karin Lai. The pair, who also contribute to TODAY, were theatre bloggers before the website gave them the opportunity to expose their writing on a more established platform.

The former had worked and studied in the United Kingdom before joining the website upon his return in 2011. “It sounded like a great platform for normal working people to write creatively about the arts scene. Inkpot has definitely helped me to fine tune my own writing about the Singapore theatre scene, which I was not very familiar with previously. It’s also been nice meeting theatre practitioners in Singapore and learning more about the theatre ecosystem and the various parties who come together to put up a production,” said Kapadia, who had contributed 50 reviews in a span of four years.

Lai said that joining The Flying Inkpot had also given her an audience. “One thing it did was to create possibilities for dialogue. I (previously) didn’t have an audience for my thoughts. Over time, friends and friends of friends that I met would have read something I wrote up about a production and I could engage in conversations with them about it. The Inkpot helped give me an audience and I am very grateful to it for that.”

Both said they will continue writing about theatre, but they also recognise how the arts (and arts writing) landscape has changed.

“The Inkpot has always stood apart from the mass media as its more serious, considered, older cousin,” said Kapadia. “One of the dangers of today’s social media-obsessed generation is that every theatre company, practitioner or reader is simply looking for that juicy, bite-sized blurb about a play. The days of good, old-fashioned reviews seem to be dying out and I sincerely hope that won’t happen.”

Lai pointed out how the arts criticism scene in Singapore is changing rapidly, citing how “lifestyle” blogs and companies now also offer reviews, which are seen as mere “content” to draw page views. With The Flying Inkpot’s strictly non-commercial stance, they were not beholden to any interest, resulting in a “culture of brutal honesty”.

At the same time, she wondered if changes in performing arts scene has had some effect. “In some ways, the increased competition between companies for audiences and the advent of social media has made the Inkpot’s unique culture harder and harder to sustain,” she said. Echoing Kapadia’s point, she said there was a tendency of some companies to expect faster reviews and to simply look for “the quotable one-liner”. “The kind of considered and yes, more academic, review that Inkpot was known for has been drowned out by the need to generate ‘buzz’ — to get good messages about your production out there, quickly and consistently. I have my doubts about how good developments like these are for theatre criticism in Singapore, but I can understand the commercial pressures that have led to their development even as I regret them.””

- Mayo Martin, TODAY, 1 June 2015


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