Local sex scandals on stage

Local sex scandals on stage

The high-profile sex scandals that rocked Singapore last year may have left the courtroom, but they will be getting another airing - this time, in the theatre.

From the highly scrutinised courtroom revelations of former Central Narcotics Bureau chief Ng Boon Gay, who was accused of corruptly obtaining sexual favours from Cecilia Sue to the notorious exploits of Malaysian sex bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, Toy Factory Productions' The Penis Society will mix current affairs with musings on what it is like to be a man in Singapore through anecdotes and sketches.

Playwright Goh Boon Teck, 41, who is artistic director of Toy Factory, says of the scandals: "The whole of Singapore couldn't take their eyes off their screens, buying newspapers, reading all these things - people are interested. I wanted to gather all of it and put it into a piece."

The play features actors Prem John, Wilson Xin and Ryd Salleh, who will represent male Singaporeans in general. The Penis Society, written by Goh, will attempt to address the stereotypes that are often associated with the male of the species.

Goh says: "We don't have an answer but we want to throw the question out there - we also want to have fun."

Instead of a regular theatre, The Penis Society will be staged at Aquanova Bar as a way of exploring new spaces and reaching out to a different demographic. Brand development and management group LifeBrandz is acting as co- producer and it provided the venue.

The play's provocative title has set tongues wagging. Goh says: "We've already started to get hate mail and we're shocked at how conservative some people can be. It's just the name of an organ but it has aroused endless concern."

He says the title "felt right" when he was writing the play and it captured the feel of a gentlemen's club and male culture that he was trying to evoke. "Whether it is provocative or not is quite subjective. To me, it's quite upfront and contemporary."

Director Patricia Toh, 31, found directing the work challenging, particularly when it came to male physical experiences with no equivalent for females. She says she has come to view the organ in question with more sympathy and "not as an aggressor".

She hopes audiences will be able to see past the eye-grabbing title and comedy and come face to face with some of the more complex issues raised in the play and its commentary on modern society.

She says her female friends found the sex scandals demeaning to women: "The play draws out hidden things on gender roles and expectations. Are these men at fault and are women capable of these affairs? There are all these other layers that I question as a woman directing this play."

But one thing is clear. Goh says with a laugh: "Men should really use their brains to think, and not their private parts."

corriet@sph.com.sg

The Penis Society: A Stiff Up Comedy
Where: Aquanova Bar, Block C, 01-09 Clarke Quay, River Valley Road
When: Till Sept 29 (no shows on Mon and Fri), 8.30pm
Admission: $26 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg) or $31 at the door
Info: Rated M18 (contains mature themes and some coarse language)


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