Thursday, May 26, 2011

HERStory passed censorship without cuts or rating

TODAY's news writeup by Mayo Martin (click on image to read details)

5 years ago, a play which talks about the lives of an old Singaporean political leftist's wife and her gay son would have been a lightning rod for the flash of the censors' scissors. 

This week, it will be showing without cut or rating. This means . . . I really have no idea what it means! Does this signal a more enlightened governmental direction in nurturing the Arts? Did the recent General Election have any impact on the show? 

All I know is that the artists involved all agreed that the politics and sexuality should only be presented when the issue is relevant to the central character. While these issues are inseparable to the woman portrayed in this play, they cannot upstage her feelings and her thoughts. For instance, while the gay son has strong opinions about sexuality and gay rights, it was not shared by the mother during their confrontations. So how do we present such scenes without being disrespectful to both sides? This brings to mind another play, called "_____ Can Change", staged by The Necessary Stage.

A scene from TNS's "______ Can Change"

The TNS story presented the religious mother's view, where the gay son gave up his relationship with a man, then married and had children to please his mother. During the performance I watched, a group of gay supporters protested loudly, then stalked off the show! In our play, we try to show what goes on in the mother's mind when her son made a very public declaration of his sexuality. No apologies, no regrets, no agendas. 

As for the politics, we stayed true to the central character - in Singapore, during the 50s and 60s, women were deliberately kept out of the meetings. When questioned by a more vocal feminist, a prominent politician replied, "it is our prerogative." Hence, we only presented what the woman could see - hence, politically-charged scenes - those which she was not a part of - are presented only when they made some impact on her, or totally removed when we felt it does not serve her story.

Without a restricted rating, our play will be seen and judged by all ages. We cannot predict how the play will be received this coming weekend. All I can say, one day before the play, is that we hope people find that their weekend is well-spent with us!

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