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Sensitive portrayal of the trials and tribulations of LGBTs
IT'S quite a task to not only interview over 50 people but to also compile their voices into a play. Kudos especially to the ensemble of six actors in Let's Get Back Together (LGBT) who draw us into the interviewees' stories with such heart.
Co-writers Mark Ng and Kenneth Chia of Red Pill Productions spoke to over 50 lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders in Singapore for their almost two-hour production, which moved along in a string of snappy vignettes.
As the actors assumed different identities, we caught glimpses of the trials of LGBTs in both family and public life - boys being bullied in school for being effeminate, daughters "coming out" to their mothers, a husband revealing transgender tendencies, a brother's acceptance, etc.
Interestingly, the stories also captured others' reactions to them instead of just their own soul-searching.
The finer details of LGBT issues were aired: like how parental resignation to their children's status isn't a form of acceptance, really.
Just as the stories ranged from humorous to emotional, they also reflected different concerns which are voiced differently, depending on the age.
A teenager panning how her school dealt with burgeoning lesbian "behaviour" struck a funny chord, while a woman in her 30s highlighted the difficulty of having children as a lesbian in Singapore.
Ng's direction passed muster, with the clever use of screens placed around the stage. The 90-minute play, which was first presented in 2014, was updated as well - with the recent ideological clashes between the Wear White movement and Pink Dot Singapore.
The play delved deeper into the views of different religions towards homosexuality to the point of almost being belaboured, but it succeeded in highlighting just what a complex issue it is. And it succeeded in showing how there is no black-or-white answer, but rather a grey area.
The verbatim format was chosen, explains Ng, because it possesses immediacy and potency, but after the 60 or 75- minute mark, it also felt a bit tedious.
It fell onto the actors to hold up the play which they did well, particularly Ruzaini Mazani, Zachary Ibrahim and Jo Tan, who deserve a mention for how they sensitively portrayed different characters.
LGBT moved from abstract, general voices towards specific ones at the end of the play - an effective move as the audience could then put a face to some of the issues raised earlier.
It was also a good reminder of how far plays presenting LGBT issues have come - from the time of plays like Asian Boys Vol 1 in the early 2000s, known to be risque and provocative and overly campy, to a very straightforward telling of real issues that LGBTs face today.