Archive for July, 2010

Fringe as Guardian of the Soul

July 31, 2010

Fringe as the Guardian of The Soul
by Richard Chua, Director, Ah Kua Show in New York 
31 July 2010

The fringe of theatre functions best in looking into the plight of minorities, without a political or profiteering-lens attached to it. For the very nature of the fringe is to tell the truth, and to — in British dramatist Edward Bond’s words — create human-ness. Urban societies, similar to the one Leona and I are living in, are losing human-ness, for post-industrial capitalism has taken root, deeply entrenched in the society. Commercial theatre — like everything else in this society — has taken the mainstream discourse laid by the establishment in promoting inane and inhumane theatre serving misled imaginations like economic progress and national development in the name of creating prosperity for national communities. Hence, the only sane voice in this society lies in the fringe: the guardian of the soul. 

The title Ah Kua Show in New York might sound silly in Singapore theatre. Words like “Ah Kua”and “Bapok” are equivalent to “faggots” and “loafers” in the United States, laid with derogatory meanings. Every self-respecting artist with good aesthetic taste will avoid using these words in entitling their shows, but it also takes a truly self-respecting artist to look at this demon in the face; to present these misconceptions with different perspectives, showing the very truth on how these words have lived in, impacted upon, misrepresented the GLBT community in Singapore. 

As a fringe activity — and to audiences of the New York City Fringe — we aim to guard the soul of the characters in the play, and the soul of plain honesty in mentioning the much “taboo-ed”, not to mention looked down word in the GLBT community lexicon in Singapore — Ah Kua. 

 – end –

Richard Chua is a theatre-maker in Singapore. 

評論.theatre reviews.
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Advertisements reports on Ah Kua Show

July 30, 2010

Click here for the coverage.

Thanks Fridae – you’ve always been super supportive of sisters in Singapore!

Listing on NYC Arts – Ah Kua Show’s poised for New York!

July 30, 2010

Scroll down to #6 for the listing.

Khairy Sulaiman Story to be Retold at Fringe NYC’s Ah Kua Show

July 30, 2010

Picture from Singapore Press Holdings' Stomp, first suggested by our reader Manessa

Misrepresented as a “transvestite” by the Singapore media, the story of Khairy Sulaiman will be retold as part of a trilogy about three Southeast Asian transgender women at this year’s Fringe NYC.  Khairy is among a number of Malay transgender sex workers who have been shamed and misrepresented as “transvestites” in Singapore’s newspapers since the 1960s.  Newspapers here will only dignify their transgender subjects with the pronoun “she” post sexual reassignment surgery, but it is internationally recognised that transgender women are women even if they have not or do not intend to go for SRS.  The respectful thing to do would be to ask the subject if unsure, rather than impose a pronoun through sheer ignorance.

 Click here for my opinion piece on the Khairy Sulaiman incident.

Click here to purchase tickets to the Ah Kua Show in New York.

Sex (change), Gossip and Indonesia’s Frivolous Fatwas

July 28, 2010

AFP reported today that Indonesia’s highest Islamic body, the meddlesome Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), has issued a fatwa banning Muslims from watching gossip shows or  -gasp! – having sex-change operations.  This is the very council that messed up the correct prayer direction for the world’s most populous Islamic nation. 

Like me, dear reader, you must be tired of the trigger-happy clerics in MUI who abuse fatwas to consolidate their influence over a largely ignorant populace – all this while perpetuating heinous crimes against humanity such as the taking of child brides.  Like most fundamentalist religious groups, MUI’s priorities are misplaced – surely the rampant corruption in Indonesia (amongst government officials, politicians, civil servants and the infamous immigration officers) merits more attention than gossip shows and hapless transgender individuals?

Of course, like most politicians, the clerics are more interested in scoring brownie points with attention-grabbing gestures than actually solving the real social evils.  We need to be clear about this.  The Indonesian masses need to be clear about this too.  Alas, the United Nations has foolishly adopted a resolution that, in theory, protects these hypocrites from criticism.  No one has the right to persecute a person on the basis of his/her religious beliefs – that’s fair enough.  But neither do religious groups have the right to persecute sexual and/or gender minorities based on their misinterpretation of religious texts.  Ironically, we can take some comfort in the fact that the UN has no teeth – otherwise Aung San Suu Kyi would have been freed a long time ago. 

In light of MUI’s religious fascism, I declare a fatwa against their ridiculous behaviour.  And why not?  At least my fatwa is well researched and based on logic and truth.  In embracing our true selves, I believe transgender women are closer to God than these morons.

Ah Kua Show on TheatreMania

July 28, 2010

Click here for our show’s page on  More important – book your tickets online now!

Candy Darling

July 26, 2010

Candy Darling on her death bed. Source: Original photo from cover of album "I Am a Bird Now" by Anthony and the Johnsons.

New York is full of surprises.  Surely Candy Darling was a pioneer transgender woman – before the “label” was even coined – in the 20th century.  According to Lee Kiat-Jin (Ph.D) who’s a Visiting Scholar at Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, Candy Darling “was a Warhol superstar and transwoman whom Lou Reed immortalized in his song, ‘Walk on the Wild Side’.”  Somehow it seems to me that transgender women from Candy Darling’s era – from the ill-fated starlet herself to esteemed British travel writer Jan Morris –  were more accepted by society than transgender women today.  Of course, April Ashley was the exception, but perhaps because she was dramatically outed by a newspaper.  I consider myself a third generation transgender woman who’s had the opportunity of a good education in England and also various platforms to interact with transgender women from all over the world, so much so that I’m even seeking to reclaim the voices of Southeast Asian transgender women with the Ah Kua Show in New York.  Yet I have the sneaking suspicion that if I were to walk down Christopher Street, I would get the sense that we haven’t progressed much in terms of transgender rights.  Perhaps the world was a kinder, gentler place in the post-war years, when the civil rights movement was in full bloom, before the category “transgender” was coined, before Wall Street greed displaced our raison d’etre and before the Christian right spread its ugly wings.  Perhaps like Sisyphus I’m fighting a lost cause, and perhaps there’s nothing noble left in defeat.  But like the Holocaust survivor who quoted from Beckett’s novel The Unnamable, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

AKS venue map

July 24, 2010

Be sure to look for us at Venue #6: The Club @ LA MAMA!  Here’s the map:


Our new twitter address!

July 22, 2010

Follow us at ah_kua_show

Post cards almost ready!

July 22, 2010

Our post cards are almost ready!

Here’s a preview of the back; the front’s our icon. 

Remember to pick up a postcard from FringeCENTRAL next week!

The Ah Kua Show’s ready to roll!