“Warm, wickedly funny, remarkably moving production...intense and explosive”

- The Straits Times, Life!

Synopsis

Sweet, silent Billy (Thomas Pang) feels like an outsider in his own family. Billy, you see, happens to be deaf. Dad (Adrian Pang): first class academic, world class ass; Mum (Sue Tordoff): mystery novelist, clueless about the mystery of her own family; Sis (Frances Lee): up-and-coming opera singer in a downtown pub; and Big Brother (Gavin Yap): speech expert, hears voices in his head…your typical dysfunctional, eccentric tribe of bohemian weirdos.

When Billy falls in love with a real “outsider”, Sylvia (Ethel Yap), his world is turned inside out, and he finally wants to be heard. And what he has to say will ear-shatteringly and heart-breakingly prove that actions really do speak louder than words…

A uniquely humorous and profoundly moving look at the complexities of communicating with the ones you love, Tribes won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.


Credits

Written by
Nina Raine

Directed by
Tracie Pang

Starring
Adrian Pang
Ethel Yap
Frances Lee
Gavin Yap
Susan Tordoff
and introducing Thomas Pang


Reviews

  • “Warm, wickedly funny, remarkably moving production by Pangdemonium...intense and explosive...will have you in laughter and tears....Pangdemonium spares no effort in making the production accessible to audiences both hearing and non hearing...the ensemble is a taut string carefully unwound...stunning professional debut of Thomas Pang, a revelation...Director Tracie Pang has orchestrated an intimate family drama of incredible proportions, choreographing this dysfunctional brood into a symphony of clever counterpoint and subtext - every scene is beautifully calibrated. She plays with our expectations of what it means to hear one another out, and captures what playwright Raine made the context of the play - the textures and ruptures of language, the tribes we cling to and what it means to put yourself in another person's shoes...Book it.”
    — The Straits Times, Life!
  • “Pangdemonium's pitch-perfect comic-drama Tribes...truly provocative, heartbreaking, humane, profound and merciless all at once...Director Tracie Pang mines every word and gesture for their humour and brutality, extraordinary moments when speech, signed gestures and surtitles become a perfect storm of communication breakdown; and her casting decisions are excellent...Gavin Yap and Thomas Pang as the brothers are, in a word, electric.”
    — Business Times
  • “Pangdemonium's pitch-perfect production...smart, moving and humorous...Tracie Pang's sensitive, meticulous and pitch perfect direction allows us to enjoy TRIBES as a family dramedy even as we willingly embrace its intellectual edge...tight, generous performances all round ensure that it is a show full of heart…Gavin Yap - heartbreaking... (in Thomas Pang) Pangdemonium has unearthed another talent to watch out for yet again...Hear us out: Watch this play!”
    — TODAY
  • “★★★★ Pangdemonium has been building a reputation for being a company unafraid to stage plays that deal with difficult issues. But with TRIBES, they take things up a notch and achieve something truly hard-hitting, comical, and tender at the same time...Thanks to Tracie Pang’s expert direction, watching this group of actors is, indeed, like catching a glimpse of a tribe...The cast shines...Thomas Pang deserves special mention, (with) his nuanced portrayal of the sweet yet isolated Billy. Ethel Yap is another outstanding actor...It’s evident the production achieves what it set out to do: give a voice and soul to a community that is largely ignored by the public. There are a lot of words that get tossed around here – either hilarious or hurtful – but by the time the curtain falls, we find that even when speech is taken away, so much can still be said.”
    — Timeout
  • “Easily one of the most enjoyable and well-executed Pangdemonium plays...Pacy and funny...it is in the performances that TRIBES truly sets itself apart...Thomas Pang, in what might be one of the most amazing professional debuts...Ethel Yap shines…Gavin Yap - brilliant...Read my lips – TRIBES is a play you don’t want to miss.”
    — Buttons In The Bread
  • “When it comes to theatre company Pangdemonium, our expectations are always high. TRIBES is not to be missed...The balance of comedy and drama makes it a winner...TRIBES tells us a lot of things: about the isolation one can feel within their family, the struggles of being deaf, and how every oddball is searching for their place to be heard - we heard it all, unspoken or not, and it has changed us for the better.”
    — Buro 24/7
  • “With this excellent production of Tribes, Pangdemonium have returned to the zenith of fine theatre making in Singapore...Tracie Pang's taut direction drives the play and each scene is handled with her characteristic sensitivity and attention to detail...delightful and thoroughly affecting piece of theatre...The cast, a superb ensemble of six, turn in compelling performances and are thoroughly engaging: Adrian Pang and Sue Tordoff convey the undercurrents of marriage with riotous honesty; Gavin Yap and Frances Lee - delightful; Thomas Pang in his stunning professional stage debut as Billy, joins the ranks of actors who have been nurtured by Pangdemonium and have emerged as fantastic young actors in the entertainment scene today...Ethel Yap likewise makes a very strong impression...With Tribes, Pangdemonium reminds us that when learning to understand one another, actions speak so much louder than words.”
    — Crystalwords

Power to the People

  • “As someone lucky enough to be a regular theatre-goer in Singapore and all around the world, let me declare this: Pangdemonium's TRIBES is the best piece of theatre I have seen in years. Director Tracie Pang has taken on a monumental task and achieved something magnificent: from a supremely challenging and tricky script, she has expertly guided her cast to individually and collectively give honest, nuanced and powerful portrayals, resulting in a stunning ensemble performance; she has also pulled together all the technical aspects of the production and made them organic and alive; and ultimately she has created a piece of story-telling that is on one level a great piece of entertainment, and on a deeper level profoundly resonant in so many ways. Told with wit, heart and guts, this beautiful production is a very important piece of theatre, and one that will stay with many audience members lucky enough have caught this. Once again, brilliant work, Pangdemonium, simply brilliant.”
    — Danielle Yeo
  • “I was blown away. This is an amazing play with powerful performances, stunning set design, and tight, brilliant direction. This riveting play with its troubling themes of deafness in all its forms and how we may hear but not listen is a challenging one to stage and perform but that didn't deter Pangdemonium from offering it as their second play of the 2015 season and I'm glad they did—it's one of the best theatrical productions ever staged here. Grab your tribe and head down to watch it! Congratulations Adrian and Tracie Pang! ”
    — Gilbert Cheah
  • “We have just seen one of the best performances possible. Stunningly right and truthful. You should be deeply proud of yourselves. It's the kind of experience that vindicates a lifetime of visiting theatres and all the near misses one sees in theatres. It reminds you why it all matters so much. We were, in other words, most deeply moved. Thank you for the experience. Great congratulations.”
    — John Watts
  • “BRILLIANT on so many levels. To the cast, thanks for the honest, sincere, engaging performances. To (set designer) Wong Chee Wai, the stunning and meticulously assembled set took my breath away. To director Tracie Pang, what my heart felt, no spoken word can encapsulate.”
    — R Chandran Rama
  • “Spent my Sunday evening watching a phenomenal play, Tribes. It was relatable in many ways, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching. As I sat there with my mind a spiderweb of thoughts and feelings, my eyes welled up at all the many breathtaking moments that were presented before me. Tribes is definitely a play that not only hit the right spot for me but it was also beautifully put together and produced - the elaborate and intricate set, a world class cast, incredible acting and the superb use of music and multimedia. Tribes will be one play that has unquestionably left a mark in my heart. Thank you Pangdemonium for this magnificent production.”
    — Melody Ann Gibson
  • “Tribes was exquisitely well produced by Pangdemonium and it presented a very gripping, thought-provoking perspective on deaf culture I would not have otherwise known. I relished and lapped up every single detail put onto the stage, from the impeccably elaborate set, the directing and blocking, the fusion of multimedia, and a first for me – sign language translators, who were meticulous with their delivery not just with their hands but with their face and body, emotions pulsing through every movement. The actors have each poured in so much into their roles and captured all the subtext that needed to be shown. Thank you for this!”
    — Terenex
  • “Fantastic play! Funny, thought provoking and meaningful! Best productions in Singapore are from Pangdemomium!”
    — Yvonne Talon
  • “TRIBES is the most honest piece of theatre I've seen. If you wanna know what good theatre is, then TRIBES is a great case study. Everything from the set to the acting to the writing to the direction was beautifully nuanced and just plain honest.”
    — Crenshaw Yeo
  • “If you haven't watched Tribes by Pangdemonium you absolutely must. There is no negotiation. I have not been so blown away by a production in years.”
    — Alex Auyong
  • “Thanks Pangdemonium for the awesome two hours of education and entertainment. Made me rethink about how humans connect with each other, and how deaf my heart can be sometimes, even when I have functioning ears. ”
    — Wadaszit