Archive for August, 2006

Local theatre, front and centre

Speaking of not necessarily knowing very much about local writers, the Singapore Theatre Festival is in its last week and there are some neat shows to see: Second Link, which I believe was first produced in 2004, and Wong Chen Seong’s new play Salsa Salsa Salsa!

I haven’t bought tickets for this week’s shows yet because I’m, er, a little broke after seeing three Festival plays in previous weeks: Silence of the Kittens, Homesick and The Campaign to Confer the Public Service Star on JBJ They were all new plays, by Ovidia Yu, Alfian Sa’at and Eleanor Wong respectively. Were they absolutely the best things I have ever seen on stage in my entire life? Of course not. They were new plays, being tested in public for the first time, and they were, to varying degrees, a little rough around the edges.

But what I think is important is the idea of the Singapore Theatre Festival itself and its scheduling to coincide with the annual National Day celebrations.

A little colonial hangover

I was chatting with a British colleague once about how Singapore, for all its apparently American trappings, still carries a residual flavour of its colonial past, if you only know where to look for it.

Like in the names of so many of our roads and places, which, unlike in other decolonised countries, were not changed after Singapore became independent. So we still have Raffles Institution (after putative founder of Singapore Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles), Fort Canning Hill (after former Governor-General Viscount Charles John Canning), and any number of Queen Elizabeth, King George and Queen Victoria eponyms.

Eh…who’s that guy again?

I think it’s quite true what a lecturer of mine mentioned today in class when he spoke about our attitutes towards literature. In general, we’re brought up on mostly Western works to the point that works by our local writers are forgotten, ignored, or have possibily negative connotations associated with them, for example being viewed as second rate literature and so on. In fact, if you ask me to name any one single local writer that I know, I probably couldn’t answer you at all.

I guess this has repercussions on not only Literature, but other art forms as well, for example theatre or the music industry even. We’re quick to embrace what’s Western and quick to compare our local talents with those from the other side of the world, ignoring the fact that we all come from different upbringings, cultures and backgrounds, which inevitibly affects our style of portrayal of a certain art form. Im not an expert, or am attempting to sound like one, so I’ll leave it as that, with a little suggession that perhaps it’s time to accept the arts scene for what it is : expression.

What time is it?

In the course of surfing the web today, I came across this website chronicling the timezones that Singapore has followed over the years: Why is Singapore in the “Wrong” Time Zone? That wasn’t the question that I was searching for the answer to (I was just trying to confirm that Singapore currently runs on GMT+8 ) but the website title was intriguing enough that I clicked on the link —

— And it neatly reminded me that yes, I wasn’t hallucinating a memory. When I was a child, Singapore did concertedly move its clocks forward. On December 31, 1981, at 4 pm GMT, Singapore flicked all its clocks and watches half an hour ahead,and leapt ahead to (4pm + 8 hours) = midnight on January 1, 1982.

Happy Birthday Singapore!

Yesterday marked National Day, more known as the day we gained Independence from the Malaysian Penninsula. While I shall not go into politics here (one can always look up the various versions and perspectives of this historical event), this day has always been celebrated with a public holiday filled with lots of fanfare, from the putting up of flags at housing estates, colourful military displays to the firewords that mark the end of the National Day Parade.

I, however, spent the day at home reading a book and getting some quiet time for myself. I guess I’m one of the more apathetic ones around who would rather enjoy the day as a break from work rather than any other special day. And to all the Singaporeans reading this : how did you spend your National Day holiday? Were you like me?

big bird, little bird

big bird little bird

I used to laugh at this Botero sculpture gracing our waterfront at Boat Quay because it looked like a gigantic butt. Officially called “Bird”, I always knew it as “that sculpture of the fat bird”. Here’s a picture of one of the local pigeons posing in front of his (much) larger cousin.

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