14 – 18 January 2015, 8pm
Black Box/ Rehearsal Room, Centre 42
—120 minutes with no intermission
*concessions for students, NSF & senior citizens
“How can one re-stage a play like that–the candle prop will still burn, the video projection of rain will still evoke images of cleansing and renewal, but Chew might not be around anymore.”
– Alfian Sa'at, The Straits Times, on Completely With/Out Character
In May 1999, The Necessary Stage worked with Paddy Chew to stage a monologue titled Completely With/Out Character at the Drama Centre on Fort Canning Hill. The docu-theatre piece records his experience as the first person in Singapore to come out publicly with his HIV-positive status. Unfortunately, Paddy passed on in August 1999 a few months after the production’s conclusion.
Today, AIDS is no longer perceived as a terminal disease; HIV-positive individuals can lead a relatively normal and healthy life with the aid of advances in medication. In part, this is due to the roads paved by individuals and researchers who came before us, individuals like Paddy, who defied convention and conservatism to tell his story at a time when there was still much ignorance and prejudice surrounding AIDS.
With/Out is a faithful interpretation of Paddy's monologue. Through the use of multi-media, video documentation and other archival material, Loo Zihan will re-construct the production as an extension of his research into performance re-enactments, the mediation of a 'live' presence via the use of technology, and the re-visioning of queer histories in Singapore.
Loo Zihan is a performance and moving-image artist and educator based in Singapore interested in investigating the tension between the flesh of the body with the bone of the archive.
With/Out was developed in residence at Centre 42.
Please note that there will be no fixed seating for With/Out.
The performance will include photo and video documentation. By attending this production, you grant permission for the artist and production team to photograph and video you, and otherwise capture your image. The artist has the right to reproduce, use, exhibit, display, broadcast and distribute and create derivative works of these images and recordings.
It has been close to 15 years since we lost Paddy Chew. I never had the privilege of watching his performance 'live', or knowing him in person. I experienced his presence via the words of others and through documentation that survived. I am sure much information of my knowledge about him and his performance has been lost in the process of translation, but does this loss mean that I am unable to provide my account of his performance? And most importantly, who has the authority to account for his performance and why?
With this production, I am interested in investigating how concepts of 'loss' and 'absence' can be represented onstage. I made the choice to value what remains to be remembered over lamenting what has not survived.
Viewing the production via the lens and distance of time, Paddy's monologue can be interpreted as a self-reflexive memorial choreographed to preserve his ephemeral existence, not dissimilar to how we pen our diaries or record our lives with social media. The awareness of his own mortality serves as a mirror to remind us of our own fragility and that one day, like all things in life, we too shall pass.
Loo Zihan (Singapore)