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.

Spellbinding.

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.

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