Text by Tracey Toh, Images courtesy Wild Rice
Which is the other country? Is it Singapore, Malaysia, or the nation that was once the product of our brief union? At the end of Wild Rice’s latest production, there is still no clear answer.
Sayang Singapura, the collection of literary texts from Singapore, was presented in chronological order, playing up the perception of Singapore as a straight-laced society. Alfian Sa’at’s curation is admirable for its richness and diversity, giving voice to alternative perspectives, including that of political detainees, homosexuals and transsexuals. Unflinchingly honest, it was also unfailingly good-humoured, thanks to the endearing Malaysian cast who injected verve into their satirical portrayal of Singapore.
Leow Puay Tin’s selection of Malaysian works echoed Alfian Sa’at’s; not only in our shared folklore but in our contemporary social struggles and frustration with a disingenuous democracy. The segment was executed in the spirit of ‘Tikam Tikam’, granting the audience a say in which works they got to see that night, highlighting the freedom and concomitant chaos that is stereotypically Malaysian. True to form, the Singapore cast set a strict time limit on their performance, but surprised with their self-deprecating, side-splitting depiction of Daulat and Moonrat: Tikus Bulan.
There seems to be a tenderness and candour common on both sides of the Causeway. What Another Country arguably does best is demonstrate the inextricable nature of our national identities; we are separate and yet the same.