In an age where our consumption of media is increasingly regulated by the authorities, the reality of the world will seem very different from different parts of the world. I am not just talking about propaganda and the act of brainwashing with the use of media, but also in the realms of education, global awareness and the very foundations of one’s identity. This is why we fight for representation on all fronts, because when we are visible, we exist and our truths cannot be denied as easily.
So when we have a group of cisgendered (mostly) majority race men in power reserving the ultimate right to dictate what is “fake news” or not for the rest of us, will alternative versions of the “truth” that may come from lived experiences become invalidated and ignored? What exactly are the dangers of that and why do we not seem to be concerned? Are voices being silenced for a greater harmony or are these excuses disguising a more insidious plan?
What exactly is “truth” and is it really as vanilla and simple as we would like to think it is?
Before I go on, I congratulate and applaud the creative and technical team for such brilliance that reinforces the power of theatre and live performance. A collaboration with Singapore Repertory Theatre, Caught by playwright Christopher Chen and director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar is a witty piece of work that you gets questioning everything — am I in a real gallery space, are the artists who they claim to be, what aspects being performed, what can be considered genuine and what exactly is the real deal? With all these questions swimming in my head while considering that glass of bespoke cocktail from Lulu’s Lounge to ease the process of thinking (too much), this immersive theatrical experience was fun, engaging and a complete fall down the rabbit hole.
Encouraged to interact with the hosts present and other audience members in almost gala night atmosphere of the Dissonance exhibition by Miaja Gallery and Miaja Art Collections, I walked around the space to view the art pieces displayed all around. It was easy to get lost among the crowd and to wonder if the performance had started. Breaking traditional presentations of what a performance is, it would be silly to expect a house announcement to switch off your phones, get comfortable and know exactly where to look. So when Lin Bo entered the crowded gallery to a sparse round of applause, some confusion dissipated and I could almost sense that breath of relief from the people around me — finally there was something to hold on to.
The monologue gave us glimpses into contemporary art and just before we could finally settle down into this very space we occupied, we received an invitation to move elsewhere. And then we had to get used to a new space that transformed itself multiple times right before our eyes, and the cycle repeated.
Movement was constant and I found myself never settling for any one space or thing. Emotionally, mentally and physically, I found myself in flux. Vision captured by the absurd, humour tickled by the clever wordplay delivered spectacularly by the performers and curiosity piqued by the conversations my fellow audience members were having, their opinions became a part of the overall experience.
Without revealing too much, my favourite movement had to be this moment that morphed from the civilised and clear into a warped and manipulated beast of satire. I laughed so hard and I thought I could not ask for more. I thought that, until the next moment of a talkback session and found myself so excited by the convincing arguments and line of questioning made.
When the final act came along and given the chance to discover the “truths” for myself, I took one last look at the gallery before leaving, not wanting the answers that were to be given. A part of me felt that the constant questioning that was going on in my head was the main performance while the show I am experiencing a mere stimuli. Regardless of the choices made that lured me into a certain conclusion, I lived through it and for that two-and-a-half hours, the entire performance became my truth and reality. I was changed and no longer the same person who walked in.
Let me stay in this strange limbo a while longer and see just how far this blurring of lines can go.
And is it not beautiful and ridiculous to think that everyone walked away with a different “truth” about the show they just experienced? Now, imagine what a world it would be if everything was made homogenous and you are being told what to believe in or not.
What a fearful world we live in.
Date: 10th September – 6th October 2019
Venue: Miaja Gallery (off Martin Road)
Time: Monday – Saturday, 7.15pm / Saturday, 3.15pm / Sunday, 2.15pm & 6.15pm
Admission: From $80 (Get your tickets here.)
Rating: Advisory (Some mature content)
Photography credits: Singapore Repertory Theatre