Fringe as Guardian of the Soul

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. 

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