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SANDAKAN TRENODY

TheatreWorks (Singapore)

Directed by Ong Keng Sen
Composed by Jonathan Mills
Set Design by Justin Hill
Lighting/Projections Design by Margie Medlin


German philosopher Theodor Adorno once memorably wrote: “After Auschwitz poetry is no longer possible.” This is the aesthetic and moral dilemma facing the creators of Sandakan Threnody, director Ong Keng Sen and composer Jonathan Mills. The story they want to tell is a horror story, a largely forgotten moment in World War II. In 1945, as the Japanese offensive was collapsing, more than 2300 prisoners of war, both Allied and Malay, were marched from the POW camp in Sandakan, Borneo, towards Ranau, a distance of 420 kilometres. It was a death march commanded by Captain Soichi Yamamoto, later hanged along with a number of his officers as war criminals. Of the 2345 POWs, only six who made a break from the column lived to bear witness.

Melbourne International festival for the Arts, 2004

Singapore Arts Festival, 2004

Brisbane Arts Festival, 2004

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