Friday, April 29, 2011

HERStory - my new play in the Arts Festival 2011

Click on image below to read article!

In this year's Arts Festival, I wrote a little play. The play was originally intended as a tribute to my mother, who supported my dad Fong Swee Suan during his political career as a Trade Unionist, co-founder of our current ruling party PAP and subsequent imprisonment during a sweep against the leftists in Singapore. But as improvisations began at Drama Box, my long-time partner-in-theatre, director Kok Heng Luen, dramaturg Chong Tze Chien and the actors involved help the script evolve into a tribute for women of the 50s and 60s.

The change in direction was also prompted by my mother: she objected to me bringing up the fact that the woman in the play has a gay son. She had given her entire life and sacrificed her own dreams in order to bring me up after my father was released from prison. It is easy to imagine that a possible lifetime of discrimination by the mainstream population was NOT what she had in mind for her child. In the end, the gay son stays in the story, while we modified the story from one woman to women of her generation.

Click on image below to read Mandarin writeup on play!

Click on image below to read Mandarin writeup on play!

I came out publicly as a gay person in 2007. While I cannot agree with my mother's prejudices, I can sympathize with her feelings. AND while I sympathize with her feelings, I cannot consent to going back into the closet. She'd given up her whole life partly for her family, and for myself. But I cannot give up my life in return just to just be her ideal son. 

Afterall, she had rebelled against the injustices of her generation. She'd defied old traditions of women staying in the kitchen and allowing the men to run her life. She had stood for what she believed in and paid the price. Hence, it was a little ironic that she expect me to follow in her tradition and live according to her expectations. So, the focus of the play is firmly from the woman's point of view, but the audience can also expect to see some really interesting exchange scenes, as sparks fly between the two generations. 

The fight to express our sexuality is not the same as the Feminist Movement nor the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Yet, there are a lot of parallels as we move towards an era where all these damning labels get discarded one by one. If you have the time and interest, do book a good seat for this show:

Date: 28th May and 29th May 2011
Performances at 3pm and 8pm
Tickets at $36
@ SOTA (School of The Arts) Studio Theatre

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