September 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
At first it seemed to be just me. No one seemed to be noticing it. I scanned the newspapers, but there was nothing written about a strange smell going round. I thought I was going crazy. But then I started to notice that a few people also seemed to be suffering the same problem. I would for instance catch a person taking a deep breath for no reason, with a puzzled look on their faces, and then doing it again, as if trying to catch hold of some shadow in the air that they were not sure was there at all. I caught a few people sniffing themselves. Or looking at people near them with their noses crinkled, wondering whether to stop breathing so as to end the horrible smell or to breathe in harder to see if it was really there and coming from someone.
They were the exceptions. I never dared or thought to ask any of them if they were experiencing the same thing as me. I was too frightened to find out either way. These people as I said were rare. But they proved to me that the smell was not the creation of my imagination but a fact. Most people went on with their lives totally oblivious to the odour of decaying meat that pervaded the air.
What had made them immune? Were they the lucky ones to not notice the reality? Or were they pitiable in not even knowing that they were constantly steeped in this putrid vapour that hung about them all the time like an invisible blight? I, of course, was otherwise so comfortable that I didn’t think of leaving. And I think that was also true of all those who were like me.
Later when I left the place because of circumstances outside my control, I thought about the nature of imperfection. There is first the imperfection of the material, and it seems to me that these can be tolerated. A television that does not give a perfect picture, or clothes that are less than totally fitting, a car that makes a rattling noise. Then there is the imperfection of the spiritual. And it seems to me that such imperfections, no matter how small are intolerable. That is, we would be less human if we see these imperfections and do nothing about them.
After I left that place of the rotting flesh, I also thought hard about those people who could not detect what was at certain times so obvious, no matter how faint. What had made them lose their ability to smell? Or what had made them unable to smell it in the first place? And again I go back to the question of what it is to be human, truly, fully human.
Fear of Writing by Tan Tarn How is published by Epigram Books.
September 13, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Video clip from Theatreworks’ original production
Performed at Victoria Theatre, Singapore, 13 -14 June 1998
September 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
FEAR OF WRITING
An absurd play
Written by Tan Tarn How
Directed by Ong Keng Sen
Premieres on 1 September 2011
Tel 67377213 / Email firstname.lastname@example.org
September 6, 2011 § 1 Comment
Fear of Writing portrays a playwright’s creative handicap—the writer’s block—under intense anxiety and scrutiny. Through this crisis, Tarn How uncovers the existentialism of self-censorship and freedoms in Singapore. An urgent provocation of the country’s boundaries—as bound to art, artist, citizen and humanity.
Fear of Writing proposes a theatrical parable for the politics of today, a future for the Singapore dream:
“This play is about the complacency of the average Singaporean, of theatre audiences and practitioners because there is no danger, no real change enacted by our works. It is about the commercialisation of theatre; hijacked as entertainment rather than being an engine of change. Can we find a real political theatre, where the audience goes in X and comes out Y? This is the difficulty in writing this kind of work in this day and age, hence the long gap between my last play and this one.” - Tan Tarn How.
Date / Time : From 25 August 2011, 8pm nightly
Venue : 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road Singapore 239007 (MRT: Clarke Quay)
Tickets : $35
**Early Bird Discount: We urge you to book your tickets now with the Early Bird Discount at $25 per ticket. For students and NSF, tickets are at $10. No booking fee applies.
To purchase tickets, please call 6737 7213 or email email@example.com
September 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
August 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
- Gender benders express themselves (The Straits Times)
- A harvest of political plays (The Straits Times)
- Wither political theatre? (The Business Times)
August 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
TheatreWorks would like to invite you to a reading of THE FIRST EMPEROR’s LAST DAYS written by Tan Tarn How and directed by Ong Keng Sen. TheatreWorks premiered The First Emperor’s Last Days in June 1998 at the Victoria Theatre. The play imagined four writers tasked – under detention and surveillance – to pen a posthumous biography of a country’s first great ruler.
Read by Lim Kay Tong, T Sasitharan, Lim Yu-Beng and Karen Tan, it is on 27th August 2011 (yes, the day of our Presidential Elections). Time is 3pm and venue is 72-13, Mohamed Sultan Road.
The reading is in conjunction with TheatreWorks’ premiere of Tarn How’s new work, FEAR OF WRITING, his first in ten years!
At the same time, this marks our efforts to introduce Singapore writings developed by TheatreWorks to new audiences whom may not have read or seen these works onstage. Such works bring into focus the dilemma of playwriting in Singapore under nationhood, the state and cultural policy.
Please send your RSVP to KC. Ring him on 6737-7213 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org