Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Another Country

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.


Frou said...

Hello! It's been a while! :) What a coincidence, I caught this play last weekend too. Got where they are going with the concept but thought they could have done more to showcase the r/sh between the 2 neighbors. Also having the MY actors playing out SG story, and vice versa, didn't really come through to me. Maybe coz of their accents and perhaps I am just too familiar with both countries having lived half my life in each! Nevertheless I agree with you - reunification at this point would be an absolute disaster!

imp said...

ALLO FROU!!!! I've missed your writing.

Yah lor. I kinda expected it to be a greater flagging out of the relationship, but not really leh. The show was maybe a tad long I thought, more of a literary showcase at the end of the day. It's quite funny that it didn't seem to matter whether it's the MY actors or SG actors playing whichever scenes. Like...same same, and familiar humor too. Hahahaha.

Lyn Lee said...

People have been talking about reviving just the Straits Settlements haha.

imp said...

Lyn: ERMMM. Can we just revive the awesome foods first? :p