“I would have thought after 16 years, most would now know more than they wanted to know about G&W!” says Richard Gardner of Gardner & Wife Theatre. Yet, as expected, there are still many stories behind Malaysia’s ‘busiest presenter of international theatre and family-friendly performances’. Here are five you might not have heard.
1. Creativity and convenience ahead of its (local) time
Gardner & Wife Theatre was the first Malaysian theatre company to sell tickets online – for Relatively Speaking in 2000. However, we were so far ahead of the ball, that we had to do it via a Singapore ISP, and WorldPay as our payment gateway. But now, of course, all is done here in Malaysia!
2. Paving the way for aunts and menopause
Gardner & Wife Theatre was the first theatre company to run a local-cast show for 3 weeks – Charley’s Auntie, with the late, great Azean Irdawaty, Indi Nadarajah, Joanna Bessey, Rashid Salleh and Benji – and the future theatre stalwart, David Lim.
We were also the first local theatre company to run a show for eight performances a week for six weeks – Menopause The Musical in 2007. (NB Ignore the 2014 info – that rerun never happened)
3. Unearthing the confusion tipping point
The Gardner & Wife name, nearly wasn’t! We spent long hours coming up with a brilliant name to register with ROC, only to have the name turned down because “there were twelve other registered companies with ‘theatre’ in their name, and it might confuse people! So we had ten minutes to come up with another name while the agent had his lunch. Out of desperation decided on “Gardner & Associates” which was duly registered. Then we did business as Gardner & Wife, and then a few years later as Gardner & Wife Theatre, and then made application to officially change our name to Gardner & Wife Theatre. So, if anyone wants to know at what point Malaysians get “confused” it’s right between twelve and thirteen!
4. What’s in a name? More than you’d think
The Gardner & Wife Theatre name and logo is based on two different “jokes”. Chae Lian felt that there were millions of companies called Something & Sons or Something & Brothers, but very rarely daughters or wives. So, Gardner & Wife was born. Then comes the question of who gets first billing as prime position on posters etc is always top left corner! So the issue is solved in Hollywood by placing one movie star on the left but lower, and the other on the right but higher!
5. And on Sunday, They Shall Play with Puppies
Richard & Chae Lian – just in case they feel they have spare time on their hands – also run a puppy training school, which for the last five years has been located at The School by Jaya One. Based on the work by Dr. Ian Dunbar, this kind of training aims to reduce the very large percentage of dogs (worldwide) given up before their second birthday by owners who realize they can’t handle them! And playing with puppies isn’t a bad way to spend Sunday mornings!
About Gardner & Wife
Operating without sponsorship, Gardner & Wife has reached several hundred thousand Malaysians and residents, by ‘providing our audiences with the kind of theatre that excites and en-passions us!’