n.b. I would like to inform my readers that I am currently helping Checkpoint Theatre to archive one of their upcoming productions. However, I strongly believe that this does not affect the integrity of my critique.
Jean Ng & Joavien Ng
31 March 2016
Esplanade Theatre Studio
31 March–2 April 2016
(After Tynan, 2 November 1958)
A studio filled with ephemera. It is scattered all over the place as it is evident it has been in a toss-up of trial and error. Towards the back, a banner reads “Our Dream Show.” Two performers are in the midst of the devising process.
Performer 1 (henceforth P1) is at the mirror making a series of weird faces. Performer 2 (henceforth P2) reacts by laughing. P1 occasionally checks the sound levels of P2, writes in a notebook, takes photos of some of her faces, and continues experimenting in the mirror.
P1: (while writing in her notebook) Ok, so that’s two motifs done.
P2: (laughs a little) I really admire you man. Not only do you have a strong physicality, you have a rubber face; the variety of expressions you can do ah. (P1 takes pictures of some of her own expressions) Eh, you trust me that much?
P1: Yea. But we still have to try them out on others… just to be safe (continues with her experimentation).
P2: Yea, play safe better.
P1: But not too safe, if not our show will be boring. (She writes up her notes and takes a break. She’s clearly exhausted). Oh yea–
P1: What is a good way of linking the motifs together?
P2: Hm… I’m not sure…
P1: Damn. We still need to create more sections…
P2: If the motifs are good then maybe we don’t have to worry too much. We just use the usual link. (P1 is puzzled) Since our work has a post-modern flavour, we link it up by the usual movement as if we are being electrocuted or possessed.
P2: Don’t worry. As long as the motifs of the facial expressions and our subsequent material are amusing enough, I think the audience won’t mind too much about that.
P1: (looks at the decibel meter) I guess so. Ok let’s KIV this issue.
P2: Orh. What about our other materials ah?
P1: Let’s look at our journals. (Goes to a table and takes two dream journals and peruses them with P2).
P2: Eh see here… We both talk about mirrors!
P1: Mirrors… Maybe we mirror each other in something…
P2: But don’t make it exactly alike.
P1: Same same but different… Perhaps like we are in a parallel existence or something. Then we do actions within in a similar theme but we are clearly in different spaces.
P2: Yea! Maybe different climate or we suggest that we exist in different era or culture. Not bad…
P1: Good, good. At the same time we can also confound expectations. Since we are both women right, maybe we randomly do some construction stuff and cook really badly in some parts.
P2: (laughs) Can. But do you think there’s something is missing for this part?
P1: Yea… but I don’t know how to say it.
P2: That’s right!
P2: We can’t communicate what it is… lost communication… (tries to come up with related concepts for a bit) Since we can’t just keep doing stuff willy-nilly, we should try to establish communication with each other.
P1: But we fail to do that! That’s great… At least the audience has something to follow. We also can throw in something for fun (looks around and sees a red telephone) like that one! (Both agree and write in their notebooks) Speaking of audience following us ah, maybe we should come up with something on top of us just moving all the time?
P2: Like what? Monologues ah?
P1: Yea… You can do that since you are the literary one.
P2: Eh but you must also help me to think.
P1: If you want audience to follow us… then throw in something about mothers or childhood. Make that one funny ah. Don’t just make it a trip down memory lane. The theatre shouldn’t add to the nostalgia fest.
P2: Ok… But I think we need to mix it up a bit. Not everything should be funny.
P1: Funny is good what. If the audience—and especially the critics—are happier, they might be more forgiving… But you’re also right… If we want serious, then have something that suggests violence but we don’t actually act it out.
P2: Haha… like in a Greek play… Something serious… You ok with rape?
P2: I mean of course no one is ok with rape. I’m talking about adding something about rape inside the show… it could be quite violent. Just checking because some people might be sensitive.
P1: But we don’t act it out right?… Then it’s fine.
P2: Ok cool. Oh yea, how should we frame this whole thing? I mean we have a bit of this and that, but how do we string them together?
P1: We ask questions.
P2: Huh? Why suddenly so profound?
P1: No, we are talking about dreams and fantasy right? We ask questions about it.
P2: Oh like those seemingly paradoxical ones?
P1: Yea. With that we can also use the lights to highlight certain things. That way, we have some sort of structure but we are free to explore.
P2: Dreams are such wonderful sandboxes. You can do anything.
“Madly beautiful dreamscapes” by Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times Life!
“Intrusions by Jean Ng and Joavien Ng – Review” by Five Lines Asia
“Dreams, and what to do?” by Kei Franklin, Centre 42 Citizens’ Reviews
“不是痴人说梦” by Neo Hai Bin, Centre 42 Citizens’ Reviews