“Occupation” review: love won in a time of loss

Checkpoint Theatre kicks off its 20th anniversary season with chamber readings of Occupation. The show follows Sarah (Isabella Chiam) a self-professed “charming bureaucrat” tasked with interviewing Mrs. Siraj (Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai), an elderly character heavily inspired by playwright Huzir Sulaiman’s grandmother. Sarah listens to Mrs. Siraj’s personal accounts of youth and romance under the Japanese Occupation. Mrs. Siraj recounts waving to her lover every night from her window and eventually getting married in 1944. It is a cloyingly sweet story, as Sarah points out that Mrs. Siraj’s occupation is “loving and being loved”, far from the expected tales of woe and suffering.

Occupation effectively teases out this uneasy tension between our expected notions of a Japanese-occupied Singapore versus a personal retelling. As PJ Thum writes:

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A Renewed Hope: an interview with the cast from “Waiting For The Host”

So who went and made Zoom the default communication tool for 2020? We conduct Zoom meetings for work, for weddings, for webinars, and alas, for performances, like in Pangdemonium’s first ever digital play Waiting For The Host. It is intriguing and alarming, how this platform has dominated our digital discourse in less than a year.

In fact, for my interviews with several cast members of Waiting For The HostNeo Swee Lin, Petrina Kow, Keagan Kang and Adrian Pang, Pangdemonium’s artistic director — I suggest having a chat on Zoom or via phone. Most of them choose Zoom.

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Watching “The Pitch” made me miss theatre – like, a lot

The Pitch, a short film co-produced by Pangdemonium, Singapore Repertory Theatre and WILD RICE, premiered about three weeks ago now. It follows the three companies pitching for a fictional COVID-19 friendly show. The cast all play themselves (Adrian Pang, Gaurav Kripalani, and Ivan Heng), and poke fun at their own male egos. But boy, watching The Pitch make me miss Singapore theatre so, so much.

For the past couple of years, I have a rolling Google doc entitled “Theatre schedule”, where I will list all the plays I wanted to catch every month, ticket price, whether I’ve booked it and whether I’ve written a review for this blog. It was last updated March 9.

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Voices uninterrupted: “Two Songs and a Story” review

We’re more than six months (days? years?) into the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore. Cancellations for arts and theatre performances started as early as in February, as countless performances and discussions have gone online.

Enter Two Songs and A Story, or more accurately, ten songs and five stories – the latest work by Checkpoint Theatre. The online video series comprises of five parts, told by five distinct voices (ants chua, Inch Chua, Jo Tan, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, and weish). These pieces were written and composed during the Circuit Breaker period1, and it emits an earnest sense of creativity and attempts in meaning-making during isolation.

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