Meet the “Pang” Dynasty of Singapore theatre | A List
When the Pangs enter a room, the energy they bring with them is palpable. That vigour has kept husband-and-wife Adrian and Tracie Pang driving Pangdemonium, the theatre company they founded a decade ago, and they show no signs of losing steam.
They kickstart the 10th year of Pangdemonium with critically acclaimed play, The Son. The play, about a family’s struggle with teenage depression, marks the first time their elder son, Zachary, 20, stars in a Pangdemonium production. He and Adrian play reel-life father-and-son while Tracie is the director.
This means the Pangs have been living, working and playing together around the clock since rehearsals started in January. So far, so good.
Zachary, who is waiting to enter university this year, says: “It’s like hanging out with friends, and it just so happens that everyone in our family loves art and theatre. Working together is an excuse for us to hang out and bond as a family.”
Adrian echoes this sentiment. “I genuinely love hanging out with the family. To do this in a professional capacity keeps me feeling good,” he says, with the warmth of a proud father in his voice.
Tracie adds that working as a family of theatre practitioners “makes us understand each other better.” But she acknowledges the blurring of family and work life means it is hard for them to not talk shop all the time.
She says: “We realised, over the years, that in order for us to decompress and spend quality time with each other, we need to leave the country.”
The close relationship they share means they do not shy away from tackling challenging issues. Indeed, they chose to stage The Son, which touches on the topic of teenage depression, in part because it resonated with them as a family with teenage sons. They hope the play will open up conversations on mental health, not only within their family, but also with audiences.
Tackling difficult issues on stage is familiar to Pangdemonium. Its past productions, including Late Company,Next to Normal and Rabbit Hole, explored topics of suicide, mental illness and the loss of loved ones, but they also touched on the theme of survival. Adrian says: “This became the defining trait of what we do – we celebrate survival and we celebrate the human experience in all its complexities.”
As to whether the Pang family will continue to make theatre together, Adrian says it depends on the choice Zachary and his brother, Xander, make. “I’ve always believed that Zack and Xander owe it to themselves to find their own calling.
“I’ll be a little sad if their callings take them away from us, but if it means for them to independently pursue their own dreams, then that’s the way it has to be and the way it should be – as long as they send money home.”
More information on The Son here.