The Road Less Travelled

Attended my first Life Theatre Awards today. For once, I wasn’t working or chickening out because I didn’t feel sociable. Sitting with colleagues as we reflected on and celebrated each others’ good work, I felt a sense of community and industry which, working independently, is sometimes hard to muster.

The LKY Musical won Reader’s Choice Production of the Year and the tension was palpable when the announcement was made. Theatre people are highly skilled at showing disapproval in varied ways. But the acceptance speech by the producer was honest, without airs; a timely reminder that all of us, old and new practitioners, work really hard against the odds, to create something from nothing.

Kudos to my colleagues and friends, writers, designers, producers, crew, directors, actors, artists, awarded or not, for baring your souls and taking the road less travelled, to bring stories to life and make human nature eminently watchable.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Don’t Forget to Remember Me

dftrm5

My next production is a play about Dementia. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart as my own father is in the late stages of a 20-year walk with Alzheimers.  Dementia is an umbrella term for a non-specific illness syndrome in which memory, attention, language and problem solving areas of cognitive function are progressively affected.  Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia.

Rehearsals have been both cathartic and painful as I watch Karen Tan and Goh Guat Kian who play daughter (caregiver) and mother (dementia patient) respectively. I’ve been rediscovering some familial memories, as well as some of my own… buried and forgotten because it’s been so long.

Dementia is a widely misunderstood disease. There is no known cause or cure. There is a huge social stigma towards remaining sane, yet losing one’s mental capacity. And the symptoms are often ignored because they seem like normal human lapses or signs of stress, and can thus be hidden. So people with dementia often don’t receive the help and understanding in the early stages of the diseases when they need it most. Instead, people get frustrated with them, and they get frustrated with themselves, which usually serves to quicken the onset of the disease.

Don’t Forget to Remember Me runs 26-28 Mar 2009, Thu – Fri, 8pm, Sat, 3pm & 8pm. Tickets are at S$10 and there’ll be a post-show discussion.  Here’s a synopsis of the play from the SISTIC booking website (www.sistic.com.sg):

When Madam Wong begins her retirement, all she can think of is enjoying her golden years with rest and serenity, surrounded by family and friends. However, rest turns into restlessness as she starts to lose her short-term memory. Her dream of a peaceful life soon becomes a nightmare of remembering and forgetting.

Presented by The Necessary Stage and commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Disease Association for Dementia Awareness Week 2009, this brand new play deals with the trials and tribulations of people with dementia and their struggles to come to terms with their illness.

In Singapore, about 6% of people above 60 suffer from dementia. It is an illness which causes brain cells to die at a faster rate than normal. This leads to failing memory, deterioration of intellectual function and personality changes.

Dementia is not normal ageing.

A touching and thought-provoking play, presented in Mandarin and English, with subtitles. There will be a post-show dialogue with the audience on dementia.

Don’t Forget to Remember Me is written by Haresh Sharma, directed by Alvin Tan with multi-media by Loo Zihan, and performed by Goh Guat Kian, Karen Tan, Sukania Venugopal and Timothy Nga.