Had to catch W!ld Rice's 'Another Country'. Directed by Ivan Heng (Singapore) and Jo Kukathas (Malaysia), curated by playwrights Alfian Sa'at (Singapore) and Leow Puay Tin (Malaysia), the play's actors from both countries interpreted written texts from all archival (historical), literary and media sources.
The play first opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 4, then now in Singapore earlier on June 25. It explored the intimate relationship between Malaysia and Singapore that goes beyond laying claim to 'national' foods and ties of marriage and family between her peoples. As summarized by W!ld Rice, 'Another Country' looks at how,
50 years ago, Singapore and Malaysia divorced after a brief marriage of two years. But, doomed lovers that we are, we just can't stay away from each other, no matter how often we squabble over water, airspace and food. We toil in each other’s cities, relax on each other’s islands and get fined on each other’s roads. We laugh at each other’s laws but envy each other’s liberties; separated by history, we are united by our dreams for a better home.
In two parts, 'Sayang Singapura' was played by the Malaysian actors, and after intermission, 'Tikam Tikam: Malaysia @ Random 2' was played by Singaporean actors, which invited the audience to random pick works to be acted out, and no night would be identical. One doesn't have to be familiar with all the texts used. I do know the Singaporean texts although not verbatim obviously; I don't even know some of the authors of the Malaysian texts. But we know the history, sort of. The words are universally understood. Remember W!ld Rice's 'Second Link' in 2005? It was directed by Ivan Heng (Singapore) and Krishen Jit (Malaysia); curated by Eleanor Wong (Singapore), and Leow Puay Tin (Malaysia) as well. Its first part was titled 'Riding the Nice Bus' and second part was 'Tikam Tikam: Malaysian Roulette'. 'Another Country' is a solid play like that. It's a great summary of literary works and socio-political commentary in two hours and forty-five minutes.
The final scene of ronggeng that saw all actors on stage before taking a bow, also kinda raised the idea of a 'reunited' Singapore and Malaysia. I shuddered at that thought. People similarities and even warm feelings of familiarity, yes. Laughter, fun, and even love. We celebrate the diversity and shared experiences. However, on a personal note, having loved ones in Malaysia isn't any different from having them in England or the United States, except for the traveling time and distance. AND. For the two countries to become one political system, government and civil service- NO. JUST NO. I just can't. I'll never vote for that.