Tracie Pang was never supposed to have a career in theatre. “I went to art school where I was going to do Fine Arts but part of the course was six weeks’ training in theatre and theatre design,” she reveals. “After doing that I decided I wanted to switch course and it led me to getting my degree in theatre, specialising in lighting design, stage management, production management and all those things.”
It was a lucky turn of events for Tracie because her expansive work has earned her praise after praise. All of which culminated in her nabbing the Best Director gong at the 2017 M1-The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards for her artistic vision in Pangdemonium’s family drama, Falling.
The win comes seven years after she started the company with husband, actor Adrian Pang. “I had been working for several years with another theatre company in Singapore. After awhile, Adrian and I were both very keen to have the freedom to make our own choices and have our own artistic freedom, rather than be governed by somebody else’s set of guidelines,” she explains. “We haven’t looked back since and its been a very busy couple of years.
But the award-winning director says it was all rainbows and butterflies when they decided to break out on their own. “It’s been tough. At the end of the day, we want to put out productions of high-value but in the beginning it was hard to get an audience-base behind you,” she shares. “We were limited in the type of productions we could stage because we didn’t have a strong following.”
They had financial concerns too. “There were times when we thought we had sponsors for something then they would suddenly pull out and leave us in the lurch,” she recalls. “We had to take financial risks and just hope that it would pay off.”
Fast forward to now and Pangdemonium productions are considered to be some of the best in Singapore’s arts landscape, evident through their consistently sold-out shows. Tracie, who’s also mum to two boys aged 16 and 17, says the best is yet to come.
“When I started out in the arts in Singapore, there weren’t very many women. Certainly not in the technical side; there would be me, maybe one other girl and a whole lotta guys. You had to be like one of the guys to get any amount of respect,” she says. “But I enjoyed it immensely because it proved that I could get things done regardless of my sex and it reached a point where I never even thought about it, I just followed my passion.”
“I’m very grateful in that I’ve always had extremely strong support from my husband and that means the world because it gives me confidence to keep going,” Tracie goes on to say, before wrapping up her thoughts on the creative industry here in Singapore.
“There are some wonderful women in the business who’ve got great vision for the future,” she says. “They’re good listeners, they know what audiences what and because of that, they’re extremely good leaders.”
Words to live by: “As long as your passion is there, you’re going to be fine.”
Next up: “Our new show, Fun Home, will be coming up in September. It’s a delightful Tony award-winning musical about a family’s hidden skeletons. We also hold a fundraiser every year to help give underpriviledged people access to enjoy the arts. This year, The Jam: A Pangdemonium Fundraiser, takes place on September 1 at the Esplanade Concert Hall and stars Narthan Hartono and friends.”
The Great Women Of Our Time 2017 is proudly presented by Lancôme.