Citizen Pig: Venting on renting

Citizen Pig: Venting on renting
Oliver Chong on the play which he created with Liu Xiaoyi (above). They play all the characters in Citizen Pig.

Theatre practitioner Liu Xiao- yi, 30, has had more than 10 landlords over the past 10 years or so. But not because he was a misbehaving tenant.

The China-born actor-playwright-director, who now calls Singapore home, has many a tale to tell of unscrupulous housing agents who ran off with rental fees.

He has also been evicted by tenants posing as landlords and struggled with the rocketing cost of rent in Singapore. He now lives in an HDB flat in Hougang.

These housing horror stories have become the source material for an upcoming play by The Finger Players titled Citizen Pig, which will run at the Drama Centre Black Box from Nov 28 to Dec 1. It will be performed mainly in Mandarin with English surtitles.

Citizen Pig was created by Liu and fellow theatre practitioner Oliver Chong, 35, who also had his share of rental woes from renting an office space several years ago.

Their experiences in the tough world of real estate will be adapted to the stage. Both Liu and Chong will play all the characters. Has Liu had any nice landlords during his stay here?

He pauses for nearly a minute as he considers this question. Yes, he says, maybe one of them.

"It's not that they are good or bad," says Liu. "Everyone is just pursuing things for his own benefit."

Chong says: "Most people might think Singaporeans wouldn't get into this kind of s***. Because we don't need to rent a place - most of the time we live with our parents. But it has happened to me and I think I'm not the only one."

He cites an example of how, when he was working in advertising before going into theatre full-time, he discovered that his company had been paying rent to a "$1 company" (also known as a shell corporation) instead of the company that actually owned the office building.

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