This play is a collaboration between Singapore and Malaysia which was first performed as Second Link – The Singapore – Malaysia Text Exchange. Like the title explained in Second Link, Another Country interprets literary texts consisting of books, poetry, monologues, scripts and interviews in chronological order, thus, giving us a glimpse of history through local literature.
On the night I attended, the play started with the talented and versatile Malaysian crew comprising of Ghafir Akbar, Sharifah Amani, Anne James, Alfred Loh and Iedil Putra interpreting an anthology titled Sayang Singapore, which began with The Malay Annals (15th to 16th century) of the founding of Temasek, taking us through colonial Singapore (Letters to the Singapore Free Press and Mercantils Adviser (1922-1924), And The Rain My Drink by Han Suyin, followed by Singapore’s independence with the readings from Fiftheenth of February by Francis Khoo, The English Langusage Teacher’s Secret by Catherine Lim to the modern local literature of the millennium by Tan Tern How (Dear of Writing), Amanda Lee Koe (Flamingo Valley), etc.
Everything was minimalist, the stage bare, the only prop were chairs and some hand held objects. There was some change in costume, if you can call it that, with black being the main attire, topped with sarongs, blouse, hats etc. Thus it was up to the actors to act out whatever messages they were trying to convey through the texts, which they did amazingly. What I couldn’t fathom was the part where they were in underwear.
After the first act, the Singapore crew (in white) came on and played Tikam Tikam with the audience in Tikam-Tikam: Malaysia@Random 2. The audience had to pick 30 plays in random order which they then would act on within 60 minutes. This presented a problem to me as most of the plays that were picked were heavy, unlike in Sayang Singapura where the texts were intermixed to be light and heavy intermittently. Unless, of course, most of the Malaysian text chosen were heavy instead of funny. The Singapore crew consisted of Janice Koh, Lim Yu-Beng, Sharda Harrison, Hani Karim and the very funny Siti Khalijah Zainal. Because they ran out of time, Emily of Emerald Hill by Stella Kon was not performed, which begged the question, isn’t this s Singapore text? I felt the directors could do a better job and just remove some heavy material and so away with the Tikam Tikam.
What was incredible to see was the changing faces of the actors. They had to cry one minute and act like a chicken the next, memorizing all the dialogues without any errors. For that, they deserve our applause.
If you are a fan of local literature, do go support our theatre and writers.