With/Out (2015) – Performance

14 to 18 January 2015, 8pm
Black Box/ Rehearsal Room, Centre 42, Singapore
presented as a 'Fringe Highlight' of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival

“How can one re-stage a play like that–the candle prop will still burn, the video projection of rain will still evoke images of cleansing and renewal, but Chew might not be around anymore.” – Alfian Sa'at, The Straits Times, on Completely With/Out Character

In May 1999, The Necessary Stage worked with Paddy Chew to stage a monologue titled Completely With/Out Character at the Drama Centre on Fort Canning Hill. The docu-theatre piece records his experience as the first person in Singapore to come out publicly with his HIV-positive status. Unfortunately, Paddy passed on in August 1999 a few months after the production’s conclusion.

In 2015, AIDS is no longer perceived as a terminal disease; HIV-positive individuals can lead a relatively normal and healthy life with the aid of advances in medication. In part, this is due to the roads paved by individuals and researchers who came before us, individuals like Paddy, who defied convention and conservatism to tell his story at a time when there was still much ignorance and prejudice surrounding AIDS.

With/Out is a faithful interpretation of Paddy's monologue. Through the use of multi-media, video documentation and other archival material, Loo Zihan re-constructed the production as an extension of his research into performance re-enactments, the mediation of a 'live' presence via the use of technology, and the re-visioning of queer histories in Singapore.

The performance space was divided into two areas - a black box that is sited above a white cube. In the black box the audience encounters a three-screen synced video projection of various archival documents that span the length of the 1999 production documentation.

In the white cube, a reader performs a transcript of the text in cadence with the production video documentation. Each evening features a different reader and the performance is streamed 'live' online for a virtual audience, an archive of the webcast is available here.

With/Out was developed in residence at Centre 42.
Production Manager and Set Design - Chan Silei
Video and Technical Support - Kelvin Chew

Click here for an interview on With/Out with Singapore Poetry website.

Excerpt from video documentation of Completely With/Out Character (1999) by The Necessary Stage featuring Paddy Chew