Heartbroken @ FringeNYC

August 22, 2010

I was heartbroken today because one third of my show was wiped out when the sound system broke down right from the start.  I expended all my energy trying to improvise throughout the show.  Now, I’m so emotionally drained and disappointed…I can’t find the words to describe my pain.  This was meant to be my showcase, on opening night, and in a delusional way, I wanted to get back at my fellow privileged Singaporeans for laughing at me.  I wanted to prove I could do it in New York and perform a script that would have been banned in Singapore and every other Southeast Asian country.  So many people are patronising towards me back home – and these include those who think it presumptuous of me to be involved in theatre; those who chased me out of a nightclub for being transgender; those who couldn’t fall in love with me because I’m not a “real” woman…If not for my boyfriend, I would have lost it, absolutely lost it.  Through no fault of my own my play was compromised…

Ok, I’m going to be like Jennifer Anniston here and give myself just one paragraph to feel sorry for myself.  The sadness is over.  Tomorrow will be a great day.



New York – broken dreams and setting suns

August 21, 2010

It a perhaps with a sense of regret that I write this. Yesterday, sharing a cab with a new friend called Tania, I asked if there were many New York artistes who aspired to wealth and success at all cost (Tania happens to be a talent recruitment agent). I asked this because I felt that some of the shows I had encountered so far seemed to be friendly only because they wanted to push tickets, and there is so much aggressive self promotion going on. My message about the plight of Southeast Asian transgender women seems to have been lost in a sea of “happy valley” productions. Tania said that of the artistes who contact her, she only works with those who are truly devoted to their craft. And a true artist does not do what he/she does solely for fame or money. A true artist will find some way to express himself/herself regardless of the circumstances.

I believe there’s always a mixture of sincere artistic expression and self interest in any artistic endeavor. A brilliant artist who paints without a thought for tomorrow may either be discovered serendipitously by a talent scout or be consigned to a life of poverty should his/her talents go unrecognized. It is a matter of balancing one’s artistic endeavors with sound financial management.

This is, of course, the argument of a late bloomer like me whose urge for artistic expression could only be indulged at the critical age of 35 because I could not afford to do so previously. Even so, I am beginning to feel the pangs of financial loss. I still cannot afford the downpayment on a government flat in Singapore because of my costly experimental theatre projects.

Am I a deluded artist? Most definitely!

Do I even qualify to be called an artist? Maybe not.

Am I envious of the closeted gay men and women, beautiful straight men and women who rule the “artistic scene” in Singapore because they come from well-to-do families, and because (those who are gay anyway) they refuse to come out for fear of reprisals? What do you think???

The question that has plagued me over the past few days is this: what am I doing here in New York, a city that’s less receptive to my show than Singapore?

And the next question is: Why do broken dreams hurt so much?

P.S. When you are 35 and the age of Angelina Jolie, you stop wanting to be a successful actress. You just want to crawl into a corner and die or get laid. I can’t even audition for Sunset Boulevard because my sun never rose.

The fabulous Ms W

August 20, 2010

Finally a transgender woman in Hong Kong has plucked up the courage to fight the government over the right to get married to her boyfriend.  Hong Kong’s laws are ridiculously archaic – considering the more “conservative” China granted transgender folks marital rights quite some time ago.  Singapore led Asia in granting transgender folks marital rights based on the gender reflected on their IDs – and not birth certificates – more than 10 years ago.  So why should Hong Kong, whose laws mirror Singapore’s given that both were former British colonies, desist?  My suspicion is the Christian fundamentalists are a more powerful political force in Hong Kong than in Singapore.  Certainly there’s evidence of the religious right tampering with transgender rights in Hong Kong where the political scene is more vibrant.  Our right to get married as transgender women is not an issue open for dicussion – it’s our indefeasible human right.  To deprive us of that right is criminal.  Asian transgender women will be silent no more.

Breaking news-Mongolian trans girls saved!

August 19, 2010

The two Mongolian trans ladies who faced rape and abuse in their home countries have been granted refugee status in Europe. The Ah Kua Show congratulates the girls. We are a firm supporter of the Mongolian Lgbt centre run by Rob Garner.

We wish the girls every success in their new lives and their great commission-to help improve the lives of their trans sisters back in Mongolia.

See you at FringeCENTRAL on 20 Aug at 5.30 pm New York!

August 19, 2010

Yes, all three girls from the Ah Kua Show rolled into one voice will be at FringeCENTRAL (1 East 8th Street) on 20 Aug at 5.30 pm.  We’ll have 5 mins to tease you into meeting us on our opening day on 21 Aug at 4.30 pm at The Club @ LA MAMA.  If you can’t make the 5.30 pm slot, we’ll be at FringeCLUB at 11 pm on the same day.  Can’t wait to flash our BIG APPLES!

Nobody cares, but Somebody does in New York

August 19, 2010

Still suffering from jet lag, I’m going to pen down my initial thoughts about New York.  Our ACR Vanessa Sparling was just fabulous.  She’s exactly who I imagined her to be – a down-to-earth, generous, kind and thoughtful New Yorker.  How did we stumble on someone like her?  A few months ago, we were still worried we would not be able to secure an ACR.  Then I placed a job ad with NYU or was it Colombia (?), and hey presto, this perfect fit of an ACR appeared on the scene!!!  Well, when Vanessa is less busy, she’ll send her photo bio across, so watch this space.

Tickets sales are trickling in slowly but surely.  I’m astonished by the enthusiasm of our friends and also our fellow Fringe participants.  See below a shout out for Gabrielle Maisels from Two Girls who’s a creative teacher (her students are so darn lucky)! Elena Holy, Artistic Director of FringeNYC, stunned us and made us feel really at home yesterday with a welcome hug.  The admin staff were also so patient and kind with us as our Stage Manager Robyn plied them with questions.  And we met the lovely Blaire who’s our board op assistant.   She works at Snacks, a lovely, cozy Greek restaurant that dishes up the most delicious Greek inspired dishes (we had the veal meatballs and kalamari salad).   Blaire’s an actress with a great future.

On the personal front, I met with Larry Tung who lectures at Richard Stockton University together with my mentor Dr Ken Dollarhide.  He treated me to a quiche at Buchon Bakery at Columbus Circle on 59th Columbus Street.  It’s a glitzy new mall.  Larry explained that New Yorkers aren’t mall people but that’s gradually changing (like Singapore?  Horrors!!!).  I hope not!!!  I love the niche eateries and quaint shops.  Don’t turn into a concrete jungle like Singapore, New York!  Nonetheless, the quiche was delicious. Larry will be filming our show on Monday as part of a documentary on my experiences as a transgender activist in Singapore (notice it’s the first time I’ve mentionned “transgender”).  Awesome!  Larry was the man behind “Envisioning Justice”, the 32-min documentary on the life and work of Pauline Park, a New-York based transgender activist.  I’ve arranged with Larry to continue the filming in Singapore next January. 

Today, I will meet with a childhood friend from Catholic High.  He was my senior.  He also went for the French Immersion trip almost 20 years ago!   Over the next few days I will catch up with new friends and business contacts.  This New York trip will be a great one I believe!

Tomorrow, I will be at FringeCENTRAL and FringeClub to plug our show, so watch this space for a new video!

About Two Girls

A solo show about “a friendship that blossoms and struggles in the “new” South Africa. Two girls, one black, one Jewish, take on the trauma that apartheid left behind.  Gabrielle is the granddaughter of Advocate Isie Maisels, successful defender of Nelson Mandela in the “Treason Trial” of 1958.

Good Morning New York!

August 18, 2010

Good morning New York!  A quick note from Union Square on how the ladies are doing.  Chantel is serving lunch specials to the bankers at Wall Street.  Nong is both terrified of and fascinated with the strapping African American men at Harlem and Leona is just about managing to stay out of trouble by not picking fights with prickly New York commuters.  Watch this space~!

We fly to New York today

August 17, 2010

Finally all three girls make their way to New York, all their hopes and aspirations rolled into one…to act their hearts out…to be themselves, to make their voices heard.


August 16, 2010

Nong is missing a pair of glittery silver heels because Leona couldn’t find a suitable pair in Singapore (ok, so she left it till the 11th hour).  Leona tried looking at a factory outlet in Germany where she is now.  But the ideal shoes were one size too small (the girls share the same shoe size!).  She’ll try looking at other outlets today, but worries that she’s running out of time.  She departs tomorrow for New York.  If you have recommendations for affordable, discounted shoes for a showgirl (size 40) in New York, give us a shout!

Thank you for supporting The Ah Kua (Ladyboy) Show @ FringeNYC

August 16, 2010

The Ah Kua (Ladyboy) Show may be a newcomer at the FringeNYC, but we have benefitted from the generosity of various NYC theatre sites as well as fellow communicators like Ned who gave us a one paragraph pitch in his online newsletter, thanks to my ex-colleague and friend Hwee Suan.     

We are very grateful to everyone who has helped us in one way or another.  My vision for the show is to take it to every part of the world and adapt it to the immediate context.  Transgender women exist everywhere.  We need to stop all forms of discrimination against transgender women now.  With the Ah Kua Show, I hope to use the age-old method of storytelling to move people to respect and embrace gender diversity. 

We look forward to seeing you at our opening this Saturday.  Remember, it’s 4.30 pm at The Club @ LA MAMA. 

We will plug the show at FringeCENTRAL at 5.30 pm on Friday, 20 Aug 10 and again in the evening at 11pm. 

See you soon!