Thursday, October 28, 2010
Fri 29 Oct, 8-9:30pm, Play Club, Singapore
With readings by Alfian Sa'at, Chrystal Wang, Irfan Kasban, Michael Corbidge, Jason Wee and Tania de Rozario.
Updates at http://gaspp.wordpress.com. This is what our cover looks like:
Works by Johann S. Lee, X’Ho, Ovidia Yu, Alfian Sa’at, Cyril Wong, Jason Wee, Lee Yew Leong, Ng How Wee (黄浩威), Adrianna Tan, Koh Jee Leong, Wang Zi Si (王子思), Jasmine Seah, O Thiam Chin, Zhuang Yusa, Ng Yi-Sheng, Michael Lee, Selwyn Lee, Irfan Kasban, Andrew Cheah, Michael Corbidge, Desmond Kon, Johann Loh, Chrystal Wang, Ash Lim, Geraldine Toh, Jabir Yusoff, Mint Hong (思敏), Grace Chua, Nicholas Deroose, Tata So, Dominic Chua, Tania de Rozario and a little someone called Anonymous.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Esplanade Theatre Studio
This is the first time veteran Malaysian actress Fauziah Nawi is performing in Singapore, but let’s hope it won’t be the last. Her performance in Cinta Julia (Julia’s Love) is a tour de force, showcasing her extraordinary artistic command of voice and movement.
The play premiered just last year in Kuala Lumpur, but it represents an older tradition of sandiwara theatre, most popular around the seventies and eighties.
Written as a dramatic monologue, it tells the tale of a young woman named Julia and her widowed mother. Theirs is a classic story of women’s suffering at the hands of the men they love, spread over two generations.
Playwright-director Iryanda Mulia Ramli (Mul) has created a text replete with elaborate, poetic language. He alludes endlessly to “the well of love”, even comparing Julia’s humble home to a palace.
Often, the play feels dated. Several scenes centre around an antique gramophone and memories of joget cabaret halls. Also, there is no acknowledgment that late 20th century women’s lives involve fulfilling careers or friendships. The feminine world remains bounded by family, romance and exploitation.
Mul also avoids straightforward storytelling techniques, so that we’re never sure of certain details, including the accident that killed Julia’s father. Episodes melt into one another with utter fluidity, making it sometimes tricky to follow the course of events.
Luckily, Fauziah’s presence is mesmerising. Even seated and motionless, as she is at the beginning of the play, she grips our attention as she makes the air ring with the venomous curses of a woman scorned.
In later scenes, her skills as a physical actor rise to the fore. She re-enacts abuse by slapping her own face and recoiling violently in shock. She dances her sorrows away as Julia’s mother, her body encapsulating both anguish and joy, both the stiffness of aged bones and the memory of carefree youth.
The conclusion is rather cliché. Heartbroken over the failure of her marriage, Julia hears a divine voice and realises that she has sinned by turning away from the love of God. Fortunately, this gives us a chance to hear Fauziah’s lovely singing voice, as she closes the play with a song of repentance.
Cinta Julia is ultimately valuable for its very datedness. It reminds us of the strength and beauty that sandiwara can possess, especially when performed by a maestra. In this age of contemporary theatre, it’s good to return to the classics.
This review appeared in an edited form in Straits Times Life! on Tuesday 26 October 2010. As a poet, I'm distressed by the way the text flowed (or failed to flow) after editing. That's why I'm reposting this. Ideally, I need to figure out a writing style that'll come out more gracefully.
I've just been invited to read at this year's Hantuween, a fundraising event to feed the hungry by Food #03 and Post-Museum!
Post-Museum invites you to its very first Hantuween Party!
Join us for a Halloween celebration with a distinctly Southeast Asian flavour.
Come frolic under our Banyan tree with the Little Nonya’s rotting corpse, Ah Meng’s spirit, a semi-retired bomoh and more.
Take this chance to learn more about the myths and historical figures from our region. Come dressed as your favourite character and have a freaky good time with cabaret-style performances and Southeast Asian beats going on all night!
For More info:
tel: 6396 7980
* Entrance $25 with 2 drinks
* We are having an open call for our cabaret-style open mic session, so please get in touch with your performance ideas.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
This is a basically a cut-and-paste of the blog entry I put up at my GASPP site. But I do want to reiterate what I said about KL (yeah, I'm self-quoting):
"Now I understand why Alfian and The Necessary Stage people love to go up there so much: because there's this young, idealistic community of activists and intellectuals and artists who can't afford to take for granted the values that Singaporeans are utterly blasé about: secularism, racial harmony, non-corruption, and the right to even heterosexual romance."
Unfortunately, my own photos of the Seksualiti Merdeka festival are lousy. So I'll have to rely on everyone else's photos of our event.
For instance, here's us at the Queer As Books event at 2pm, Sunday 17 Oct in the Annexe!
Remember, this was a joint launch (for us, technically a pre-launch event) of three books. So from left to right: Matahari Books publisher Amir Muhammad, Diana Dirani and Azwan Ismail, co-editors of the Malaysian Malay language queer anthology Orang Macam Kita; Alfian Sa'at, playwright of the Asian Boys Trilogy; and myself, Ng Yi-Sheng, co-editor of GASPP.
(The photographer is our own publisher, Fong Hoe Fang of The Literary Centre/Ethos Books.)And here's GASPP itself:
We had a promotion going on: for every copy of GASPP or Collected Plays Two: The Asian Boys Trilogy we sold, you got a free copy of Charlene Rajendran's Taxi Tales. (No, she's not gay herself. But she's supportive!)
The launch was actually a private event, hence the low levels of publicity. Folks were afraid of attracting undue attention to Orang Macam Kita, a real danger since the queer Malaysian English language anthology, Body2Body, recently got pulled from the shelves after a complaint.
But still, we had readings from the contirbutors, such as Nizam Zakaria (wish my Bahasa Melayu was good enough to follow what was going on) before I goaded Alfian to go up and read something from our own book: Irfan Kasban's short prose work Dua Lelaki.
Yes, that is an expression of consternation on Alf's face. Dua Lelaki is kinda provocative.
Here's a shot of me reading from my short story Lee Low Tar, gleaned from the Facebook album of Dib Jual Kata. Yeah, we sure established ourselves as unsavoury types.
Adrianna Tan was originally supposed to come too, but she had to cancel suddenly for health reasons, so the event really ended up being quite a sausagefest. Hopefully this won't be the case for our Singapore launch!
This last shot's by Malaysian artist Jun Kit. At one point during the Q&A, I got asked whether we'd be able to sell the book openly on the shelves in Singapore. And I had to admit, well, actually, things are much easier for us in Singapore than in KL. Yes, we complain about censorship, but that hardly ever happens to books (only when important government figures get directly insulted) and what happens to plays is R-ratings and funding cuts and text changes: the whole production does not get shut down.
When we compare ourselves to London or New York or Stockholm, our freedom of speech record is lousy. But we're in a better situation than Malaysia, and we should remember that.
Plus, we should buy their books. Orang Macam Kita can be bought from Matahari Books by mail or from Amazon. Alfian's book should be available in all major Singapore bookstores, and if it's not, demand it.
And as for us, we're coming soon... :)
Friday, October 15, 2010
Copies were just delivered to the publishers at 5:30pm today. We caught it at Yeng Pway Ngon's book launch at the Arts House at 7pm.
Whoa. None of us can believe it's here. But it is! And it looks good.
Selling for $25 - less if you happen to be at a special event.
Now I'm catching a bus to Kuala Lumpur for the Seksualiti Merdeka festival!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I'm promoting this 'cos it's a project by The Literary Centre, the same folks who're publishing GASPP: a Gay Anthology of Singapore Poetry and Prose. The launch is this Friday night at the Arts House Play Den - come if you can!
The Literary Centre (Singapore) cordially invites you to the launch of Yeng Pway Ngon's Poems 1 [Rebellion] at The Arts House.
Poems 1 [Rebellion] is a translated selection of Yeng Pway Ngon's works published between 1967 and 1970, a period in which his poetry openly confronts issues of urban modernity, consumerism and apathy, social decadence and cultural decay, moral hypocrisy, and the corruption of power. This is the first of a series of chapbooks in translation which will explore the range of Yeng's poetry from the 1960s to the present.
Born in 1947, Yeng Pway Ngon is a poet, novelist, playwright and critic who has published 24 volumes of poetry, essays, fiction, plays and literary criticism in the Chinese language. He has previously been translated into English, Malay and Dutch. He is also the recipient of Singapore's 2003 Cultural Medallion for Literature.
Date: Friday, 15 October 2010
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: Play Den, The Arts House
Featuring: Mr Yeng, and translators Alvin Pang & Goh Beng Choo
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
You may remember me calling for entries for this collection a while back. It's an anthology of writing by queer Singapore citizens and residents that I've edited together with Dominic Chua, Jasmine Seah and Irene Oh. And it's coming out this month!!!
Oh, and of course I've set up a blog about it: http://gaspp.wordpress.com. This is what our cover looks like:
It's a photo by Lin Weidong, augmented by designer David Lee.
I should list our contributors, too: Johann S. Lee, X’Ho, Ovidia Yu, Alfian Sa’at, Cyril Wong, Jason Wee, Lee Yew Leong, Ng How Wee (黄浩威), Adrianna Tan, Koh Jee Leong, Wang Zi Si (王子思), Jasmine Seah, O Thiam Chin, Zhuang Yusa, Ng Yi-Sheng, Michael Lee, Selwyn Lee, Irfan Kasban, Andrew Cheah, Michael Corbidge, Desmond Kon, Johann Loh, Chrystal Wang, Ash Lim, Geraldine Toh, Jabir Yusoff, Mint Hong (思敏), Grace Chua, Nicholas Deroose, Tata So, Dominic Chua, Tania de Rozario and a little someone called Anonymous.
Our launch dates are:
Sun 17 Oct, 2pm, Annexe Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
QUEER AS BOOKS (part of the Seksualiti Merdeka Festival)
This is a pre-launch release. Two other books will be launched at the event: the Malay-language Malaysian queer anthology Orang Macam Kita and Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa'at's Collected Plays Two. There'll also be a panel discussion at 3pm on Queer Writing in Singapore and Malaysia.
Fri 29 Oct, 8-9:30pm, Play Club, Singapore
This is the big one! We're planning a festive evening of readings (plus a Q&A) at one of most popular gay clubs in the city, showcasing the voices of queer Singapore writers from different generations. Free entry, of course. :)
More details as the dates draw closer!