The Individual & The City

THE INDIVIDUAL & THE CITY is the sixth and final episode in WRITING THE CITY, an online creative writing programme written and presented by Singapore Literature Prize Winner Suchen Christine Lim and UK author Jeremy Sheldon.

Directed by Singaporean filmmaker Victric Thng, the series concludes with a look at how the writer’s experiences and identity can provide inspirations for their writing. It includes an extract from acclaimed playwright Alfian Sa’at’s forthcoming collection of short stories, Malay Sketches. The final episode also examines how writers can draw support from each other and provides encouragement to new writers to make that first step into the world of creation. As Suchen notes, rounding off the series,

“Think of salmon swimming up stream against the current, heading towards home. This is you, the individual existing within the crowd. This is you: the writer. Swim, swim and swim again. Or, to put it another way, write, write and write again. Even if the world ignores you or obstructs you … even if no one cares whether you can write or not, just write because you want to. There is no better reason.”

More on Writing

Throughout the Civic Life project in Singapore, leading writers have shared their thoughts with us on ideas of identity, belonging and community.

You can read three pieces, which feature in the booklet accompanying the TIONG BAHRU DVD, below.

Ng Yi-Sheng on the ever-changing landscape of Singapore.
Alvin Pang on a geography of Singapore mapped through personal reminiscences.
Tan Shzr Ee on the rich linguistic identity of Singapore and Singaporeans.

More on Writing The City

You can see the other films in the series by clicking on the links below.

Watch Episode 1 of the series, The Writer’s Eye, here.
Watch Episode 2 of the series, Characters, here.
Watch Episode 3 of the series, Encounters, here.
Watch Episode 5 of the series, The Magical, here.
Watch a P.S. to the series, Looking Forward, here.


Alfian Sa’at is a Resident Playwright with Singapore’s W!ld Rice. He has written over 30 plays, which have been produced by W!LD RICE, The Necessary Stage, ACTION Theatre and Teater Ekamatra. Some of his plays include Causeway, Bulan Madu, Homesick, The Optic Trilogy and The Asian Boys Trilogy. Alfian has also co-written plays with other playwrights, namely with Ng How Wee on Fugitives and with Chong Tze Chien on sex.violence.blood.gore. Alfian has also performed in some of his works and he is a published author, with two poetry collections: One Fierce Hour and A History of Amnesia, as well as a collection of short stories: Corridor. In 2001, Alfian was awarded the Golden Point Award for Poetry and the Young Artist Award for Literature. He has also won the Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award and the Malay Language Council Commendation Award. Alfian’s works have been read and performed in other cities such as Kuala Lumpur, London, Zurich, Berlin and Stockholm. Alfian Sa’at’s forthcoming book, Malay Sketches, is a collection of 35-40 flash fictions, each presenting and articulating a different aspect of “Malayness” in contemporary Singapore. His most recent play, Cooling Off Day, premiered at the 2011 Man Singapore Theatre Festival.

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