“In a time of ignorance and fears about AIDS, Paddy Chew came out publicly as HIV-positive. He was the first person to do so in Singapore. Three months before he died, he worked with the local theater company The Necessary Stage to stage a monologue titled “Completely With/Out Character” about the coming-out experience. The docu-theater piece was performed in May 1999 at the Drama Center on Fort Canning Hill.
15 years on, performance artist Loo Zihan undertakes the re-enactment of Chew’s work by using archival remains. A commission of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival (January 14 – 25, 2015), the re-enactment “With/Out” tussles with questions of loss, memory, and authority. Loo has previously re-enacted Josef Ng’s performance piece “Brother Cane” in Chicago and Singapore. In the interview that he kindly gives to SP, he makes reference to that earlier work in explaining his approach to re-staging Chew’s seminal piece. The interview is followed by extracts from the playwright script and Loo’s transcription of the video documentation of the original performance of “Completely With/Out Character.””
Read more of Singapore Poetry’s interview with performance maker Loo Zihan, on “With/Out”, authenticity, and the focus of his practice on re-enactments and reproductions, here.