Saturday, March 31, 2007

Chen Xi's "Fly Onto Clouds"

I betcha read about the case of that Chinese nude oil painting which had to be hidden from the eyes of minors a month back. I'd wanted to mention this because 251 is also about women's sexuality, art and repression. Why the hell are we so scared of women's eroticism? Why the hell is an oil painting controversial all of a sudden?

If anyone has a graphic of the original work (the one on the side is a screengrab from Psycho, stupid), please tell us. Scandal breeds curiosity.

The following article is from here.

Nude painting sold after Singapore prohibits general viewing

Singapore- A 4-metre-high nude painting barred from general public viewing in restrictive Singapore has been sold for 60,000 US dollars to an art collector, the gallery owner said on Wednesday. The painting by China artist Chen Xi showed a naked woman covered with soap suds and a parrot flying overhead.

The work, Fly Onto Clouds, was part of a month-long exhibition of Chen's works at the atrium of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts building.

SooBin gallery owner Chua Soon Bin managed to display it for only a few hours during a reception. The ministry pointed to guidelines stipulating that nude or erotic artworks "should not be displayed in venues which are easily accessible to general audiences, including
children and youth."

He was allowed to show it in his gallery to prospective buyers.

Chua took the painting back to the gallery and had to display it horizontally since the ceiling was not high enough to accommodate the work.

"It's an important painting and people like to collect major paintings," gallery-owner Chua said.

The painting was sold to a Singaporean, whose identity was withheld.

Chen told The Straits Times she plans to paint at least four other nude paintings for a solo exhibition in Beijing this year.

"I hope Singapore can become more open in the future," the 38-year-old artist was quoted as saying.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

Also see here, here, and here.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Us at the Life! Theatre Awards

The theme was "Curse of the Golden Flower and Other Dysfunctional Royalty". But mostly, we came as sluts.

Cynthia Lee Macquarrie in a slinky calligraphy cheongsam, Loretta Chen as an Indian princess (she got nominated before for Best Director for Ten Brothers, don't pray-pray) and Cheryl Miles as a can-can temptress.

Here we are again - on the right, that's me as LKY and Anne (Loretta's gf) as the Emperor Pu Yi. I dig those glasses.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

TODAY, 29 March 2007, plus section, p32-33

Lovely interview by David Chew... :)

Photos from the first runthrough!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Yesterday we did interviews with Today (should be getting a front cover story soon!) and with 8-Days - just us girls: Cynthia, Cheryl, Amy, Loretta and me. I do have some shots of my own, but my new Yashica camera refuses to upload pics onto a computer (it says it's supposed to be plug'n'play... what's with that?). Youtube rejects my videos, too. Technologically cursed, I am. Sorry for the lack of media.

Similarly, the mysterious post below was removed 'cos the Esplanade doesn't want us discussing their negotiations with the MDA on how much of the script we'll have to cut and how much to preserve - we'll probably come through whole in the end; doncha worry, and if we do get cut that'll be entirely in keeping with the theme of porn, won't it? :)

But seriously, there are important people at the top who've made concerned phonecalls to us to politely suggest changes to the play. I'm touched, I truly am - such people truly believe in the transformative power of art.

Anyway, this is just a li'l note to let my friends know that I can get a 10% employee discount for them if they buy through me - drop me an e-mail with the date you wanna come and I'll book ahead. Sorry, buckeroos; friends only - how else am I gonna know if you'll pay me back?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hey! Hey! MDA!

(As per request, this entry has gone away.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Digital music

I think this might be interesting to forward to our sound designer. -YS

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kiat Han
Date: Mar 21, 2007 1:50 AM
Subject: 251 & ii-V-I
To: Ng Yi-Sheng

Dear Yi-Sheng,

This is Kiat Han. I spoke to you a coupla hours ago at the Theatre Idols show.

251 isn't merely the Annabel Chong number. Like I said, 251 is also ii-V-I, the very common musical progression in Jazz music.

Wikipedia has everything. Check this out- II-V-I - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. How incredible!

have fun,

Kiat Han

Monday, March 19, 2007

Art Jam, March issue, p23-25

This NTU arts magazine features an interview with Loretta. Cannot scan leh...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

AP, Friday 16 March 2007

Stage group to tell story of Annabel Chong, Singapore's most infamous porn star
Associated Press Writer

SINGAPORE (AP) _ A play about the life of local porn star Annabel Chong _ who gained international notoriety for her 1995 film showing her perform 251 sex acts in 10 hours _ is likely to push the envelope of public tolerance in conservative Singapore.

The play's producers hope that it will challenge some of the preconceptions of Singaporeans, who have long professed a love of traditional "Asian values," even as the government tries to portray a slightly more liberal image.

The video of Chong's antics, which the producers billed as a world record at the time, has never been available in Singapore's stores because pornography is banned here, and Chong has since retired from the industry.

But now Singapore's Toy Factory Productions, an independent stage group, is revisiting the X-rated actress' brief but controversial career in a play titled "251" that opens next month.

"251" explores a little known side of Chong _ including her troubled experience with religion as a teenager, a violent sexual assault as a college student overseas, and the intellectual premise of the video that earned her a spot in porn history.

"Whether we like her or absolutely hate her, we can't deny the fact that she is very much part of our national psyche," said director Loretta Chen. The cast includes local actress Cynthia Lee-MacQuarrie and four others.

But "251" has already been criticized even before its April 5 opening.

"I think its cheap and vulgar to use Annabel Chong as (a) play production," one user named "Tommy" wrote in an Internet online forum last month.

Playwright Ng Yi-Sheng, who wrote "251," said the criticism was unsurprising.

"Annabel is iconic to all Singaporeans because she's a force of sexual chaos," Ng said. "Just to say her name is to suggest a taboo."

In one scene, the Chong character encounters a childhood friend to whom she reveals that her exploits have perhaps affected her self-esteem.

"You never sold out," the friend says.

"I sold my body to everyone - to the church, to the strip club clientele, even the lonely men and women in their homes in front of their video screens," the actress responds.

Director Chen said there would be partial nudity in the play, but declined to detail how they would depict the stunts that earned the play its name.

Annabel Chong was the stage name of Grace Quek, 34, who is now said to be leading a quiet life as a Web designer in the United States since leaving the porn industry in 2003. Quek has since declined media interviews and attempts to contact her were unsuccessful.

Born into a middle-class Christian family, Quek was a top student in Singapore before she went to London to study law on a scholarship. There, she was reportedly gang raped one night.

Quek began working in adult films when she moved to the United States for postgraduate studies. Her stunt led to several media appearances, and in 1999, a documentary about her life was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Quek later admitted only about 70 men were involved in the shooting of the video, though 251 sex acts were shot. She said that she had been partially motivated by her experiences growing up in Singapore - a wealthy financial center with sometimes harsh social and political controls _ a theme Chen said "251" would also tackle.

"The notion of sex is still controversial even though we say we're opening up," Chen said.

The play, which is restricted to an over-18 audience, is being staged amid efforts by the government to boost tourism and cater to a generation exposed to overseas influences. Pornography is still banned, but more films depicting nudity have been screened uncut to restricted audiences, and racy magazines such as "Cosmopolitan" are on sale - though sealed in clear plastic to avoid browsing minors.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another biographical Singapore play of mine...

I'm finally having my play, "The Final Temptation of Stamford Raffles", performed next Wednesday 21 March, 8pm at Action Theatre's 42 Waterloo St theatre. It's just a staged reading, part of their annual Theatre Idols competition, but I've got a solid cast - Gerald Chew, Lim Yu Beng, Janice Koh, Wendy Kweh and Jeremy Lee (the only experienced actor in the current production of the Swimming Instructor, whom I noted has a nose that French desserts should be named after).

If you guys wanna come, e-mail Action Theatre for comps - 2 to a person. Sorry leh; it won't be as sexy as 251.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shot memory

Tonight, I'm going for the first full-run with my brand-new Yashica EZ Digital 5011 camera (it's cheap and of dubious branding, just like me.) God, I'm nervous, and I'm not even acting. Just for the hell of it, here's some shots from the original photoshoot.

Click here for more shots of our lovely leading ladies in lascivious states of undress.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Heaty Durians

Met with the Esplanade's Director of Programming J P Nathan today - also Assistant Director Jobina Tan and Programming Officer Rydwan Anwar. (Lovely office they've got in there; I ended up falling into the pebble pond. Sorry, no photo.)

The Esplanade's really in an odd spot when it comes to staging controversial works. They're a government body staffed with non-government management who really do care passionately about developing the arts in Singapore. This means that they've gotta answer both to public and official conservatism as well as to the artists' demand for freedom. If they're staging a work, it doesn't have to be vetted by the MDA beforehand. But if it's rude art, it's gotta be good art.

And they're not requesting changes or anything... Problem was, Nathan was holding on to a copy of the first draft of 251, which was a bare brainstorm of the initial ideas for the play - totally unlike the show you'll be watching in three weeks' time. And he was just terribly worried that what we'd produced would be the same kind of pornographic trash that exploits Annabel all over again. (Quite obviously, our posters haven't helped to dispel that myth.)

The Esplanade's helping us with space and tech and the director knows what else. They're collaborators in this project. Everyone's thrown heaps of passion into this project and naturally we want it to be a critical success.

But I'm also prepared for failure. You see, I've realised that when people look back at Singapore's dramatic history, they don't necessarily remember whether a play was any good. They remember that it happened. So the very fact that we've got a play about Annabel Chong off the ground is half the battle won.

Trust me; someday someone's going to look back at Annabel Chong and create another play/artwork/novel/epic musical. And there's a chance this person's going to think our play was a crock of shit, offensive and devoid of redeeming artistic value. So what? We'll have blasted out a new dimension to the legend. We'll have made a new myth.

Better than just staging tried-and-true favourites over and over again, drawing audiences who'll just go home to compare it to the 1988 version. Isn't that happening a lot recently? Sure, we need our classics, but I miss the '90s, when more than half of all scripts performed were new. Big institutions have gotta take risks and support new plays, new companies, new ideas.

God, I really hope we get glowing reviews and slaps on the back and bouquets and shit, and that the Esplanade doesn't find its faith in us misplaced. But after all that nail-biting, I have to go home and get back to writing.

The passion of the artist is not to succeed, but to create.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Histrionics on the jetty

Some zany pictures from the chalet of Lee Weng Kee and Amy Cheng improvising at the Changi chalet. Doncha love the cast? That's Paul Lucas in the foreground, btw.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Trans Crypt

I've been extremely remiss about updating this blog. For one thing, the webchat transcript is recorded here:

Some memorable quotes:

Dutch: For me, I was curious when I heard that we produced a porn star in the US. Later when I knew more abt her background, did I *silently* thank her for showing the world that it is not only boring old Bureacrats running a country of 4 mil zombies. WE CAN SHOCK TOO

kalidas: I agree with DUTCH

kalidas: but dont give heart attack lah


F_ggie: Loretta what would you say to 18year olds who come and see your play & themselves have asperiations to be like her, maybe they'll try for 252?


Loretta: have i seen 9 songs? no tell me about it. i want to watch it

Mouse: it really blurs the line btween porn and art

Mouse: ts 69 (lol) minutes of two people ****ing


F_ggie: Loretta, before you leave do we get complimentry passes for helping advertise; )

Loretta: comp passes? compliment me first!

Incidentally, kids, Loretta's a DIRECTOR. Although she did do a lot of producer work this time round, corralling up sponsors like Okamoto (yay! Safer sex is hot sex!).

Some photos coming up...