The play will go on

Theatre director arrested for drug-related offences.

With about a month to go before opening night, preparations for the play, Floods of Alibis, have suffered a major blow.

Its director, Rafaat Hamzah, 47, a well-known figure in the local film, TV and theatre industry, was arrested on Tuesday for drug-related offences.

But Floods of Alibis playwright Rahmat M. Nor said the show will have to go on, even in Rafaat's absence.

"I heard about the news on Tuesday evening. I haven't had the opportunity to contact him and I think it would be best to leave his family alone in this difficult time," he said.

He does not know when Rafaat would be back, but said producer Richelle South, an American, will be taking over as interim director.

The play, which is in English, is about a professor whose male protege dies in her office, causing backlash. It is slated to run from June 25 to 29 at the Singapore Repertory Theatre.

It was due to open today, but was postponed earlier this month. Rahmat said one of the cast could not keep to the original schedule, hence the postponement.

He added that the cast - which comprises two Italians, two Americans, an Australian and three Singaporeans - were now more motivated to work harder after hearing of Rafaat's arrest.

He said: "Rafaat is able to earn the respect of very talented and popular actors, some who have come (from other countries) to work with him.

"I'm also very amazed by his connection with the multinational cast."


He also said there would not be any change in the direction of the play.

"We will carry on with Rafaat's direction. He has been very professional when it comes to his work and we will continue with what we have been doing."

Rafaat's close friend, local theatre actress Asnida Daud, 40, said she was shocked to hear of his arrest.

The civil servant said: "I couldn't sleep, I was so affected."

Asnida and Rafaat have worked on numerous productions together, including the award-winning film Sayang Disayang, which was screened on May 4 at the recent South-east Asian Film Festival. They were to collaborate again later this year.

Stressing that she does not condone the use of drugs, Asnida added: "Drug-taking is a big no-no among our circle of friends."

Asnida, who was in tears, hoped that her good friend will "soldier on".

In 2011, Rafaat won the Best Lead Actor Award at Pesta Perdana 11, which honours the best in the Malay television industry.

Earlier this year, Rafaat - who has dreams of spreading his wings in Hollywood - went to New York for an exchange programme that allowed him to interact with international artists and better his craft.

We will carry on with Rafaat's direction. He has been very professional when it comes to his work and we will continue with what we have been doing.

- Playwright Rahmat M. Nor