Amos Yee sketch cut from Chestnuts may go online

Sketch comedy show Chestnuts 50, written and directed by Jonathan Lim, poked fun at the Jubilee celebrations and the recent General Election.
Sketch comedy show Chestnuts 50, written and directed by Jonathan Lim, poked fun at the Jubilee celebrations and the recent General Election. PHOTO: STAGES

A 40-minute sketch that was cut from the popular parody sketch show Chestnuts may yet go on show, albeit online.

The play, Chestnuts 50, which ended its 11-day run on Sunday, was 150 minutes long after the cut.

Writer-director Jonathan Lim, 40, told Life yesterday that there are plans to turn the segment that was dropped into a YouTube series or mini movie online.

The sketch that was removed was inspired by the court case of teen blogger Amos Yee, who was tried and found guilty earlier this year of making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a video and of uploading an obscene image.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) had issued a licence for the performance of Chestnuts 50 after the "problematic segment" was dropped.

In a statement to Life, MDA said the finalised script for Chestnuts 50 was submitted by the show's producer Artsolute less than two weeks before the show's premiere and more than a month past the submission deadline.

"Although MDA could have rejected Artsolute's application, we did our best to process it so the show could continue," said an MDA spokesman. "Given the short lead time, MDA was not able to process a problematic segment and work with Artsolute to address specific content concerns before the opening of the performance. After Artsolute agreed to drop the segment, MDA proceeded to issue the licence."

There is no rule that prevents the dropped sketch from being recorded and posted online. The MDA's Internet code of practice, however, allows it and/or other government agencies to take action against Internet content providers who broadcast content that is against public interest or order and national harmony, or which offends good taste or decency.

Lim said the idea to show the missing sketch online was sparked by conversations with about a dozen people from the arts and film community who watched the show.

"They believe that what the missing sketch contains can be significant and are determined to see if there is any way the Amos Yee sketch can have a new life rather than let the chapter close on it."

He stressed, however, that the aim is not for the online sketch to be "a lost artefact" of Chestnuts 50.

Instead, he hopes it will be an opportunity for people to reflect on an important incident in Singapore's Jubilee Year and discuss it openly.

"People should be free to argue, free to take sides, but we must talk to one another about it. Basically, we need therapy."

He added: "But we'll make it only if the people of Singapore want to see the topic discussed and remembered."

This is why he is adopting a crowdfunding approach to produce the online sketch. The crowd-funding campaign will be rolled out in a few weeks.

He said: "We hope to release the sketch online by the end of the year as a last hurrah for SG50."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'Amos Yee sketch cut from Chestnuts may go online'. Print Edition | Subscribe