“This year, the spaces that we have come to love as theatre studios, and theatre spaces have become much colder, and more hostile, yet at the same, they have come to encompass the change that has been impending. As a theatregoer, it is observable that somehow our community has fractured to those who can afford it and those who can’t. There have been quite a few instances these few years that I’ve felt my pockets cry out loud every time I paid for a ticket, but this year is the worst. I think the whole slew of musicals have also impacted my taste, I was never one for all the song and dance, and so I’ve stopped really looking out for things.
I began to trawl youtube and vimeo. There are so many theatre pieces online, till today I never realised the vast cyberspace and the many different recordings or rather loosely termed “archivals” there were that allowed me to access experiences I never was privy to before. Has something changed in our carving out of space?
I was however very intrigued by my experience watching the live stream of With/Out, performed by Janice Koh, a version of Paddy Chew (And TNS)’s With/Out using an array of multimedia. This piece by Loo Zihan was especially thought-provoking: I was watching it entirely by chance, seeing it on my feed, and then I clicked on it, to see comments, to see Janice reciting lines, presumably they were Paddy’s, with a screen behind her. Loo Zihan seemed to have many spaces in mind, focusing on close-ups, Koh’s face filling up the screen with her seemingly monotonous recital, with such pinched and controlled emotions, I wasn’t surprised she was the perfect choice for this revival. The thing is, her words were so poignant, so relevant, so updated. Even with Paddy Chew’s passing and the age of this piece, it seemed to reach me through the screens. I was able to hear them, like really hear them, despite my mother-in-law shouting in the house, the clang of dinner plates, and the blaring of the television in the living room. I lay on my bed, cradling my laptop watching Janice Koh perform lines of perfect sadness, of longing and of regret. I heard Paddy Chew, through Janice Koh, translated by Loo Zihan with his curation of screens, multimedia, through my laptop. …”