Four pockets of spaces to choose from throughout the duration of the entire performance to immerse yourself in different ways and for you to feel entirely comfortable.
For me, I was constantly floating around between the four spaces but eventually settled in the black box towards the end for a closure of the performance and to listen to what Mr Paddy Chew has to say for that one night.
The Necessary Stage worked with Paddy Chew back in 1999 to stage a monologue titled Completely With/Out Character. As the first person in Singapore to openly come out with his HIV-positive status, he performed and shared his personal experiences with the docu-theatre piece. In that same year, Chew passed on a couple of months after the production ended its run.
Taking on the topic of AIDS, HIV, ignorance as well as prejudice, this performance is still very much relevant today.
With/Out is an interpretation as well as a reconstruction of the 1999 production by Loo Zihan. With news articles, research pieces and the old programmes lying all around or on the walls, use of technology and selective performance re-enactments and a live voice actor to present Chew’s words, it was an all-encompassing work.
I started with the research as well as news articles before I went to the black box to watch video footages as well as photographs of Chew’s performance and life, then went on to float between the different areas. At first, I could not really settle in any space because it made me so emotional and I wanted to get away from the other audience members. Just for some space to think and feel what I was feeling. Eventually, I accepted my reactions to the piece and chose to embrace it and stay in the black box to complete the journey with Chew on screen.
His presence could be felt very strongly and he lives on in his words, his strength and his undying honesty.
This particular performance left a very big impact on me and it means something to me when the marginalised just simply keep trying to gain acceptance, understanding as well as the love that they truly deserve. Be it from everyone around them or just within themselves.
I am so awfully privileged to start the year with this powerful piece of work to remind me whI o I am as a person and what I want to stand for in life. Extremely thankful.
(It has been a week after experiencing this work, and typing about this still makes me tear.)
(Do not really know how to organise my thoughts for this work in a linear fashion because everything is linked. It is better for a conversation so, talk to me if you want to discuss it or share your thoughts. Totally open to that.)