Dragonflies: Xenophobia a Result of Fear, Apathy and Survival

Commissioned and first staged by Singapore International Festival of The Arts 2017, Dragonflies by playwright Stephanie Street is back as part of Pangdemonium‘s 2018 season. Talking about Brexit to the politics of Donald Trump, the play is about protecting family amongst a changing environment of conflict and crisis.

The audience will take a glimpse into the world through the eyes of Leslie Chen. With politics and climate change spurring the world he knows into ruin, he flees England and moves back to his birthplace, Singapore. The sudden change forces him to confront what home actually means – geographically, culture and family.

Popspoken shares an interview with actresses Fanny Kee, Elizabeth Morse and Shona Benson to find out more about the show, and what Dragonflies mean to them.

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Popspoken: Describe what you understand of “home”.

Fanny Kee: Home should be a sanctuary. A place of peace where one can escape from the stresses of life.  For me it is not dependant on having family around you.

Elizabeth Morse: People. I come from a relatively large family, and we moved around quite a bit growing up. I am what some may call a third culture kid. Mom is from Hong Kong and Dad is from Vermont in the US, and we were raised around South East Asia. So, it’s not that certain places, or houses, or countries don’t hold hold a special meaning, but I always feel truly at home whenever surrounded by my husband, family and friends.

Shona Benson: Home is where my family is, it’s never been anything to do with bricks and mortar.

PS: What does Dragonflies personally mean to you?

FK: Strength yet fragility.  It is a thing of beauty.

EM: An opportunity to work on an original play with a theatre company that I have great respect for. Dragonflies is especially dear to me because it marks my first theatre job offer since graduating with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts 4 years ago. I am so honored and grateful to team up with some of Singapore’s finest to bring back to the stage this grippingly beautiful story.

SB: Dragonflies is a scary look at a possible future, playing to many of our worst fears and nightmares. I love the symbolism with the insect too, a tiny creature that seems so fragile yet is so strong, clever and resilient.


PS: Share with us your ideal version of the future.

FK: A world where compassion is priority to the world leaders, and not just economics.  Where differences are embraced and used to enriched.

EM: I would love to see strong families. Marriage and Family are the building blocks of any community and society, and if as a human race, we can find out how to fight against all that threatens Marriage and Family, I think there will naturally be a positive effect on communities, governments, nations and eventually, the world.

SB: A belief that being different is good and kindness is the norm.

PS: Why do you think some people are xenophobic?

FK: Survival.  A primal instinct to preserve what we have .  Change is scary and stressful. We fear the unknown.  And we tend to be economical in our energy expansion….like finding the most direct route to a place, so it is easier perhaps to just reject what would take time and energy to know.  And with diminished resources, I fear xenophobia will increase.

EM: I think fear of the unknown plays a huge part in xenophobia. And for those of us who do not experience xenophobia, I think it’s important to gently come alongside those who do, and help them focus more on what they appreciate and respect, rather than what they fear and don’t understand.

SB: Lack of empathy and no desire to understand other cultures; a fear of an unknown.


PS: Climate change is rapidly destroying the earth, and you have only two items to spend the rest of your life until the planet wipes out. What would you pick?

FK: If the world is to end, whatever I take will not matter much.  

EM: My husband, of course! No, he’s not an item – haha – and we’d be escaping together anyways. So I guess my two items would be my Bible (I’ve had one for as long as I can remember), and my Klean Kanteen water bottle.

SB: I wouldn’t ever want to escape, I couldn’t leave my family behind.

PS: Do you believe humankind can move to Mars if Earth doesn’t work out?

EM: I personally have no interest to live on Mars. Earth is my home (loosely using the “term” from question one), and there’s much to be done here. But I suppose, for the right people, it could be possible?

FK: No.  We can barely keep our planet whole and safe, I doubt we’ll get our act together to reach that far.

SB: No, the process of evolution means we are made for Earth. Something might be able to live on Mars but I can’t believe it will be human, or ‘live’ in any sense of the word.

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Dragonflies by Stephanie Street 

Date: 18th May – 3rd June 2018

Venue: Victoria Theatre

Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday & Sunday, 3pm / Sunday, 3rd June, 8pm

Admission: From $30 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)


Photography credits: Crispian Chan


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