When Gaurav Kripalani first joined the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) as a marketing manager, he thought he’d only be at the non-profit organisation for six months. Fast forward 25 years, and he’s now its director, having worked on over 150 productions.
“I’ve never woken up and said, ‘Oh no, I have to go to work today’” says Kripalani. A passion that can be traced to his childhood – he loves watching old classic films, and acted in a play when he was six – has now evolved and landed him as the head of one of Singapore’s longest running theatre companies, and one that has undoubtedly put our country on the map.
The National Heritage Board member is no stranger to breaking boundaries. In SRT’s early days, it was part of Golden Child (1998), a production that went all the way to Broadway. Forbidden City (2002), an acclaimed play, opened at the Esplanade.
SRT has also co-produced Richard III (2011) with Kevin Spacey, and presented Ian McKellen in King Lear (2007). “If any of those had gone wrong, we would have shut down,” Kripalani fondly recalls.
In his second year as festival director of the Singapore International Festival of the Arts, Kripalani and his team have done away with the traditional segmentation of music, theatre and dance.
They’ve also chosen not to define shows by traditional genres. The goal remains the same: To inspire the next generation to appreciate the arts. “So that whenever someone asks, ‘What should I do this weekend’?, the first thought they have is, ‘Let’s see what’s on in the theatre’,” he shares.