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Theatre review: Drama Box's IgnorLAND Of Its Time explores Bukit Ho Swee

Published on Jul 25, 2014 1:33 PM
IgnorLAND Of Its Time, a performance-tour involving community performers by bilingual theatre company Drama Box. It takes place in and around Bukit Ho Swee. -- PHOTO: DRAMA BOX

Singaporeans tend to have a strong attachment to space, perhaps because there is so little of it, and so little that remains the same.

In recent years, thousands have thronged the OH! Open House art walks, peeking into heartland homes in Marine Parade and Tiong Bahru; others might have experimented with a spell#7 audio tour through alleys and MRT trains. Audiences here seem to love interacting directly with spaces and excavating their stories, perhaps a spillover from our anxieties over our lack of physical heritage and fears of being cast adrift by the very spaces we call home.

Which brings us to the third edition of Drama Box's IgnorLAND series, which previously brought audiences to places such as Geylang and Labrador Park. The place in this year's spotlight is Bukit Ho Swee, most notoriously connected to the 1961 fire that wiped out thousands of homes and displaced thousands of people. Today, conspiracy theories continue to abound over the neighbourhood's history, but Drama Box wisely avoids the ceaseless politicking of assigning blame, and chooses instead to celebrate the people who built this community.

IgnorLAND Of Its Time is an intimate tour of the area with a few dramatic flourishes, a two-hour traipse through flats and shops (comfortable clothes and shoes are recommended). Its narrative framework is very simplistic - an older woman (played by Fanny Kee) brings us around while feeding us nuggets of history and offering us a glimpse of her relationship to the area, a heavy-handed metaphor for our own relationship to the past.

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