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10 Facts about Ivan Heng that We Bet You Didn't Know

10 Facts about Ivan Heng that We Bet You Didn’t Know

10 Facts about Ivan Heng that We Bet You Didn't Know

No Time to Read? Here’s a Snappy Summary of This Article

  • Multifaceted Talent: Ivan Heng isn’t just an actor; he’s a director, playwright, and even a skilled puppeteer.
  • Global Recognition: Beyond local fame, Heng has earned international acclaim for his outstanding contributions to the arts.
  • Trailblazer for LGBTQ+: As a proud gay man, Heng actively advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and challenges societal norms through his work.
  • Founding TheatreWorks: Heng played a pivotal role in establishing TheatreWorks, a groundbreaking Singaporean theater company with a global impact.
  • Cross-Cultural Fusion: His productions seamlessly blend Eastern and Western influences, creating a unique and captivating theatrical experience.
  • Unlikely Beginnings: Starting his career as a lawyer, Heng’s journey to becoming a celebrated artist showcases the power of pursuing passion.


Ivan Heng is a name that resonates with anyone who has even a passing interest in Singapore’s theatre scene. A multi-talented actor, director, and cultural entrepreneur, Heng has been instrumental in shaping the arts landscape in Singapore. But how well do you really know this iconic figure? In this exclusive feature, we delve into 10 facts about Ivan Heng that are bound to surprise even his most ardent fans.

1. Early Life and Education

Ivan Heng was born and raised in Singapore, a city-state known for its multicultural tapestry and burgeoning arts scene. However, what many don’t know is that he initially pursued a degree in Law at the National University of Singapore. It was during this period that he discovered his true calling—performing arts—and decided to switch tracks, eventually graduating from the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

2. The Birth of W!LD RICE

In 2000, Ivan Heng founded W!LD RICE, a theatre company that has since become a cornerstone of Singapore’s performing arts scene. The company was established with the vision of providing a platform for original Singaporean works, as well as reimagining classics in a local context. Today, W!LD RICE is synonymous with quality theatre in Singapore, thanks to Heng’s leadership and vision.

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3. A Man of Many Talents

Not just a director and actor, Ivan Heng is also a skilled costume designer. He has designed costumes for several productions, both in Singapore and abroad. His keen eye for detail and understanding of character psychology make his designs stand out, adding another layer of depth to the performances.

4. Awards and Accolades

Over the years, Ivan Heng has received numerous awards that acknowledge his contributions to the arts in Singapore. These include the Cultural Medallion and the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal). However, he often states that his greatest reward is the love and appreciation from his audience.

5. Global Outreach

Ivan Heng’s influence is not limited to Singapore. He has directed and performed in various international platforms, including the Edinburgh Festival and London’s West End. His work has been critically acclaimed, further solidifying his reputation as a global arts icon.

6. Advocate for LGBTQ+ Rights

Aside from his artistic pursuits, Ivan Heng is also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in Singapore. He uses his platform to raise awareness and push for social change, making him a multi-dimensional personality who is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in.


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7. The Man Behind the Makeup

One of Ivan Heng’s most iconic roles is that of Emily of Emerald Hill, a character that requires him to don elaborate Peranakan costumes and makeup. What many don’t know is that he spends hours perfecting the look, often doing the makeup himself to ensure authenticity.

8. Personal Life

Ivan Heng is notoriously private about his personal life, but what is known is that he is happily married to Tony Trickett, his partner of many years. The couple share a deep love for the arts and are often seen attending events and supporting causes together.

9. Future Endeavors

At an age where many consider retiring, Ivan Heng shows no signs of slowing down. He has several projects lined up, both in Singapore and internationally, and continues to mentor the next generation of artists, ensuring that the arts scene in Singapore remains vibrant and diverse.

10. Legacy and Impact

Ivan Heng’s legacy is not just in the roles he has played or the productions he has directed. It is in the way he has inspired countless young artists in Singapore to pursue their dreams, and in the cultural dialogue he has fostered through his work. His impact is immeasurable and will be felt for generations to come.


Ivan Heng is more than just a name in Singapore’s theatre scene; he is a force of nature whose influence extends far beyond the stage. From his early years to his current endeavors, Heng’s journey is a testament to his talent, vision, and unwavering commitment to the arts. As we have discovered, there is so much more to this iconic figure than meets the eye. Here’s to many more years of groundbreaking work from this Singaporean legend.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Who is Ivan Heng, and why is he important in Singapore’s arts scene?

A: Ivan Heng is a renowned Singaporean actor, director, and LGBTQ+ advocate, contributing significantly to the local and global arts community.

Q: How has Ivan Heng impacted the global theater scene?

A: Heng’s innovative productions, blending Eastern and Western influences, have earned him international acclaim, putting Singapore on the global theater map.

Q: Can you elaborate on Ivan Heng’s role in founding TheatreWorks?

A: Ivan Heng played a crucial role in establishing TheatreWorks, a pioneering Singaporean theater company with a profound impact on the cultural landscape.

Q: How does Ivan Heng advocate for LGBTQ+ rights?

A: As a proud gay man, Heng actively uses his platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, challenging societal norms through his artistic endeavors.

Q: What makes Ivan Heng’s career journey unique?

A: Heng’s transition from a lawyer to a celebrated artist exemplifies the transformative power of pursuing one’s passion against conventional career paths.

Q: Where can I experience Ivan Heng’s theatrical productions in Singapore?

A: You can catch Ivan Heng’s captivating performances and productions at various theaters across Singapore, contributing to the vibrant local arts scene.

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