Wednesday, March 04, 2015

华艺 :: 和妈妈中国漫游

The only reason I jumped and bought tickets to the The Nonsensemakers' production 'Travel with Mum' (和媽媽中國漫遊) was because it was performed in Cantonese (with Chinese and English surtitles) and for the actors' masks. I didn't watch it for the emotional parts of the show which were heavily themed around filial piety and family ties.

Adapted from a true story, the play tells of a 74-year-old man who built a tricycle to take his 99-year-old mother across China to try to reach their eventual destination Tibet. He wants to fulfill her wish of seeing the world while she still can. He takes her through rural villages and cities on this 900-day journey across 30,000 km only to kinda not reach their destination, but instead reaching Hainan. It's a vacation and a whole host of new experiences for the mother who has toiled all her life for the family and never left their rural hometown.

Left the play feeling peeved because of its self-righteous tone. It was enjoyable only because of the excellent acting. The actors wore masks, so the audience couldn't see the facial expressions. But the body language, hand gestures and voices transmitted the necessary messages. The idea of filial piety negates all other matters. It's the be-all and end-all. Yeah, it's a true story and all that. Still. The script plays to stereotypes, social norms and expectations. I'm probably taking this too seriously. *shrug

Have you ever read this Chinese children's classic and its stories, especially that one about burying the son to save the mother? 《二十四孝》(or also known as《全相二十四孝诗选》) 之《為母埋兒》or《埋兒奉母》I've no idea what it's called in English- maybe 'Twenty-Four Filial Piety Exemplars' or 'Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety'. Whatever. The stories are creepier than tales of horror and the supernatural. Even if they're satirical or leaning towards metaphorical, it's really not funny. Sure, there's always this female figure(s) in our lives whom we love and respect. But it doesn't necessarily have to be our mothers, biological or adopted. That's the message the play didn't send.

PS: On a separate note, AIYOH. This mix of traditional and simplified Chinese script is annoying! I can read both fine. But it's annoying when the production company hails from Hong Kong or Taiwan, and uses traditional script. Everything is transposed to simplified script in Singapore. A tiny reflection of cultural differences. Yup, 'one country two systems'. And not forgetting the diaspora. Of an ethnicity that's Han Chinese, and that's where it ends.

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