At the end of a captivatingly successful world premiere of Lao Jiu by The Theatre Practice for the Singapore Arts Festival on 7th July 1990, the 12 ensemble members of that show made the brave decision to form (what was then known as) Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble on in order to continue their love of creating theatre independently.
In its inauguration, Toy Factory was greatly supported by The Theatre Practice, Broadway Playhouse and The Substation in mentorship, guidance and even theatre rental. With the support of these “big brothers”, Toy Factory’s first ever independent production of The Bull Over the Rainbow was staged in Substation, and was immediately followed up by Redear, which made history for selling out all seats in a very short amount of time. This prolificity went on for the next few years, sealing Toy as visionary for its visually arresting shows free from the shackles of expectations and styles that was groundbreaking for the era.
Then, one of the most iconic productions of Singapore theatre was birthed by Goh Boon Teck at Toy Factory. Titoudao performed 3 times: at Jubilee Hall in April, was invited to tour to Cairo in September, and returned to Singapore in October. The unprecedented acclaim for this exceptional production transitioned Toy Factory into the big leagues: a theatre-making company with a knack for its storytelling ability with polarizing and thought-provoking adaptations.
The cumulation of this direction was made all the more apparent in 1998, when the company produced Storm, an adaptation of the Chinese classic of Thunderstorm with a western theatrical twist and pivoting the structure of this iconic playscript into Peranakan culture. It polarized opinion with the public – and signified Toy Factory’s maturity over the years and the company’s confidence to change the landscape of theatre in Singapore.