Blog Post: Singapore snippets, same as before but hopefully this time with the images

I’m in Singapore this week.
It was meant to be a week choosing a site for a remount of an old show that the Singapore Arts Festival were kind enough to want to present. An easy enough trip.
But I broke the news yesterday to my ever patient producer that I’ve realised that I don’t really want to remount that show and if we are going to bring the whole team over to Singapore it should be to do something amazing, and specific to this strange and brilliant island.
So it turned in to a bit more of a week than had been originally planned.

So I’m sat here in Singapore banging my head around everything to find a new idea for a show and as an act of avoidance here is a selection of things that I’ve learnt or heard this week

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My favourite food is Singapore Noodles. In Singapore there is no such thing as Singapore Noodles. The same dish does exist though, it’s called Hong Kong noodles. Noodles are relative apparently.

The guy driving us around on the first night passed a church at a set of traffic lights and said,”Oh that place is called the Human Curry Church. In the 80’s they discovered the caretaker in the cellar and he… well the rest is obvious”

My father was in Singapore when he was a kid. But the Singapore that exists now is 25% larger than the one he lived in. The entire CentralBusinessDistrict sits on reclaimed land. It took me a while to realise that it had been reclaimed from the sea. The sky-towers in the picture above are all on reclaimed land.
A road runs along where the coast line used to be. It’s brilliantly called Beach Road.

A picture of a giant playing peaky boo.

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Apparently the Government reclaimed the land by buying earth from Indonesia and then dropping it on top of the sea. So in reality, as someone pointed out to me, Singapore is growing, Indonesia is shrinking and both are moving closer to Malaysia.

University lecturer Paul sent us on his company’s audio tour on our first night. He took us to a place, gave us a map and an MP3 player and we walked around an area called Little India: like David Leddy’s Susurrus (sp?) in terms of format and tone. 
I hadn’t slept in 30 odd hours, only just stepped off the plane and it was heavy, dark, sweaty and at times very intimidating. One of the refrains in the piece is “Look at her. Can you see her?”. Little India at night is one of the most heavily masculine place I’ve ever been- men everywhere sitting on the street in the dark doing nothing. Hundreds of them staring back at me- “Look at her. Can you see her?”. 
I just about kept it together. 

Anyway Paul was telling us that the only reason they made it in the way they did was because their original form (microphones performers being followed by audience) wasn’t given a licence. You see in Singapore you get 15 minutes “mingling time” specified in the performance licence. Time in which the audience and performer can talk to each other and this time is specified so members of the audience can go backstage and congratulate actors. 
But the original form of the show involved constant ‘mingling’ and so couldn’t be licensed. However audio tours involving MP3 players and no actors do not need to be licensed in Singapore. This discussion led to the trip’s best quote so far “Like lesbians there’s no penal code against audio tours.”
It also led me to the amusing realisation that in Singapore Belt-Up Theatre Company’s entire back catalogue would be illegal. 

The penal code does in fact allow for the punishment of gay men but not women. Apparently it was nearly repealed but the extremist Christians are powerful in Singapore and keep blocking the legalisation of homosexuality. 
Singapore (to get the bounce on Dubai) recently built two amazing, huge, futuristic casinos. Until a couple of years ago gambling was illegal.
But in order to keep the very agitated Christians happy all Singaporeans have to pay $S100 (?50) each and every time they set foot in the casino. Foreigners don’t. It’s to stop gambling amongst the residents. There are also posters everywhere for a phone line where you can report yourself to the authorities and they will ban you from the casinos.

At the last election the official opposition party did not field enough candidates so that even if every single one of them won their election they still couldn’t form a majority. 
The same Government has been in power since independence.


Anyway- better get back to it.
hope all are well
A
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