Corrie Tan, Jom’s newish arts editor, has today published her first* piece of criticism for us, on “The Vault: Past Perfect”, a piece of documentary theatre that reveals how the Singaporean theatre industry has come of age.
“If we think of grammar as a linguistic structure within which we might make shared meaning of a world, or fumble towards collective points of reference, then ‘Past Perfect’ is the attempt of a specific generation of Singaporean theatre-makers to talk about what they ‘had made’ in the past. Implicit in these tensorial tensions are questions about the theatre-makers of the present (“are making”) and the future (“will be making”), and how they might inherit and reshape these structures.
What is the grammar of our relationships with each other?”
Corrie, who’s familiar to many in the arts community through her work first for The Straits Times and then ArtsEquator, has a wonderful way of teasing out larger themes from performances, and showing their resonances across society, with a literary style and voice that moves between the detached and macro, and the introspective and personal.
“To be an arts practitioner in Singapore is to understand that you are future imperfect, non-futureproof—and yet possess some catalytic combination of beguiling naiveté and stubborn idealism that produces enough hope for the engine of another generation to keep going.”
Corrie’s soon-to-be-completed PhD is about “the inheritances, relationships and labours of contemporary performance critics in archipelagic South-east Asia”. As many of you know, one of our larger aims at Jom is to help foster a more robust climate of criticism in Singapore, not simply in the arts, but more broadly across society.
I’m hopeful that our editors’ different positionalities and perspectives will benefit each other, as well as our team’s collective approach to criticism.
Read Corrie’s essay, and do reply to let us know what you think.
Note: it’s technically Corrie’s second piece, if one includes her review of Wild Rice’s “Hotel” in our print issue last December. If you like her work, get your copy now. We’ve already sold over half our run.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s news cycle this week has been dominated by the events of yesterday, specifically the charges against S Iswaran, former minister with the People’s Action Party, and the fact that he’s going to be contesting them, represented by the fearsome Davinder Singh. We talk about the affair, and its potential implications for the party, in our weekly digest, “Singapore This Week”. We also look at a very important panda’s first-class flight home, the furore among commuters over the SimplyGo transition, the extraordinary life of Malayan revolutionary and communist freedom-fighter Che’ Dat Bin Anjang Abdullah, and the highlights from the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival.
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