And Suddenly…

And Suddenly

Cast Photo by Victor Kuansong Zhuang. Thank you for permission to use.

Yesterday, I attended the final performance – a matinee – of “And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues“. My friend, Alvan, has written a brief review of the show here. I like some of his views on it, and I highly recommend a quick visit to his blog post.

This isn’t a review of the play, really, it is more a sensory recollection.

An incident occurred prior to the show has left me chewing on the tangled cud of emotional-sensorial-mental discombobulation mixed with shock, sadness and other slivers of unidentifiable, nebulous discomfitures. As a result, I entered the physical confines of the theatre in a bizarre state: sharp, heightened vigilance juxtaposed against torpefied somnambulism. My body felt like it had turned into a quivering blubbery mucilaginous mass, muscles twitching involuntarily like small invisible electrical circuits going awry, and throbbing, pounding pain that felt somehow distant, as if experienced through a separate, second embodiment. I could feel the delicate mucosa in my mouth literally breaking apart as deep, searing hot ulcerations began to surface, going pop, pop, pop all over the tongue, throat, inner cheek and lips. A buzzing low frequency began to sound, the signal of fever creeping up from mysterious nether regions. I shuddered as I sat in my seat, only half aware of the kind young person who was showing me to my seat and the words she was conveying to me.

I am unable to give a coherent, intellectual account or critical analysis of the play and performance, but I can remember the sensory-spiritual impressions, which, to me, are more important at this point.

I loved the soundscape, it was gentle, yet never ever bland. The polyrhythmic nature of instrumental and vocal blending, melding, ebbing and flowing in animated soft exchanges of silence and stirring was superb. My hyper senses are attracted to such clear, clean mellifluous lines, they are like silken threads of multiple colours and hues, elegantly intertwining. The messages of disability, parallel embodiment and identity unfolded gracefully yet with authority, and I noticed the excellent blending of captioning, sign language, audio description, music and sound, with the spoken narrative, in intricate fluid contrapuntal movement. Ah, that sensation again, silken threads… For my senses, a J.S. Bach fugue, at times even a toccata, zephyr-like but never cheap muzak, its intrinsic force lay in the embedded message and the cogent energy emanating from each of the performers.

Such a pulchritudinous composition and execution of exquisite artistry, and a powerful example of Disabled Leadership. Not every performer is disabled, but the spirit of Disability orchestrated and pervaded the work with unmistakable vitality.

There were stabs of extraneous disturbance: painful olfactory dissonance interrupting my enjoyment, I could smell the breaths of the people sitting next to me, and each time they exhaled forcefully, my gag reflex would kick in. Some noisy interjections – people zipping and unzipping their backpacks, rustling of paper and plastic, hoarse whispers, and shaking vibrations travelling from their chairs to mine – served as minor irritations. Yet, these failed to dampen the potency of the work unfurling before me, enveloping me in its caress, wave upon wave.


Thank you, my friends and fellow arts warriors. I have been vehemently waving my fists and waffling on and on about Disabled Leadership in theory and practice, while slowly becoming exhausted and discouraged at the blank walls facing me, the condescension mixed with anxiety that is thrown at me, and the evasive humming that lead nowhere. “And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues” has restored my hope and passionate belief that this can be achieved right here in Singapore. We are ready.




Sonorous Repose – Lucy Like-a-Charm 2015 by Dawn-joy Leong     (please do not reuse without seeking prior permission)

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We have made it! The PhD has passed muster and now it’s time for acknowledgements.


Scheherazade’s Sea – autism, parallel embodiment and elemental empathy.

 Dawn-joy Sau Mun Leong, UNSW Art & Design, April 2016


To my father, Dr. Leong Vie-Ying (1930-2007).


This work would not have been possible without the following:

Deepest gratitude to my supervisors,

Professor Jill Bennett and Dr. Petra Gemeinboeck,

for your patience, guidance, advice, support, and for believing.

Thank you, Dr. Sally Clark, for your advice, encouragement and support.

My Lucy Like-a-Charm

My family:

Thank you, mother, Molly Chye Gek Ong, for your care and fortification.

My beloved baby-sister and faithful champion, Althea Leong,

thank you for always being here, there, and everywhere for me.

Dear brother-in-law, Robin Sing,

thank you for your patience, sustenance and unquestioning support.

My canine nephews, Bizcuit and Tiny Sing

Thank you, my friends who have played important roles in my journey:

Yee Sang, Ho

Rick Feedtime

Minh Vuong

Kateryna Fury

Colin G. Marshall and Misty Marshall

Shan Patterson and Sally Patterson

C.J. Wan Ling, Wee

Margie Anne Edmonds

Brad Beadel

Gavin Koh

Boon Ling, Yee

Shane Fenton

Andrea Kingan

Rosemary Wilkinson


Everyone who has walked a part of our journey alongside us, however briefly, every single moment has mattered.

The Big Anxiety Project


The Big Anxiety Project

The BIG Anxiety Project is an innovative citizen science venture developing creative approaches to health research and data visualization.”

Lucy and I are honoured to be a small part of this amazing project, which kicks-off on 5 June 2016, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 3-6pm, level 6, with this interactive talk-cum-discussion session.

Friends in Sydney, if you will brave the weekend’s wet and wild weather, please do join us at this interactive event.

If you are not in Sydney or unable to attend the above event, please take part in the Big Anxiety Project’s survey on anxiety at the Black Dog Institute: click here!

A Thin Fine Line

This is a musing about invasion of privacy and the thin fine line between funny and sinister.

When one has been accorded much care, consideration and respectful support from a great number of people, one may become not only quite overwhelmed, but also lulled into a feeling of security, such that when this sense of ‘safeness’ is challenged, one becomes suddenly unsure how to react. One incident was highlighted in my previous post, “Confronting the Invisible.”

Recently, I have been encountering a series of little events, each one so minute in isolation that only the very observant or meticulously private person would react to, let alone notice at all. I have tried hard, in deference to the more prevalent “hey, relax!” laissez-faire social perception of the majority, to downplay in my own mind, each of these events which nevertheless irked me greatly. However, now that I am faced with an escalating rate of recurrence of these ‘small things,’ and the accumulation of which are forming a disturbing but as yet nebulous denouement with an accompanying mixture of utter weariness and foreboding, I am finding harder and harder to brush them all off. Continue reading

Confronting the Invisible


Guardian Angel

This is a musing about confronting, and the confrontation of invisible disability.

What happens when the invisible is confronted in a stark and abrupt instant?

A recent encounter inside the lift on my way up to my art studio brought me once more, eyeball to uncomfortable eyeball, with the conundrum of ‘framing’ an invisible neurological difference. In my case, it is autism – and this is an issue that autistics living in the normative realms are constantly faced with, because we exist and function in the midst of, and juxtaposed with, the ‘normalcy’ of neurotypical constructs and systems. Continue reading

My Life with Hypersensitivity and Asperger’s

My Life with Hypersensitivity and Asperger’s – lecture notes from a session with professionals in special education, specifically about sensory acuity and coping with hypersensitivity. (UNSW, School of Education, 14 May 2012, 5-7pm.) Continue reading