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Singapore

We scavenge and curate homegrown works from aspiring artists and dreamers alike.

Play With Peranakan Patois

Happenings

The C.H.O.P.P.A Experimental Music Festival ran from 22nd to 24th January at the LASALLE College of the Arts, featuring prominent musicians like Toshimaru Nakamura, Gerry Hemingway, Anla Courtis, Xu Fengxia and members from homegrown experimental and electronica band The Observatory. 

Play With Peranakan Patois

Syafiq Rafid

BijI Mata Mak

By Gunong Sayang Association

Set in post-war Singapore, Biji Mata Mak (loosely translated to Mother’s Pet) is a rewrite of an old, venerated Peranakan play by the same name. It recounts the story of an elderly Baba Nyonya, Bibik Bong Neo. It is a tear jerking narrative about a mother’s love, sacrifice and pain when she is beset with an ungrateful son. 

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More than just a story about familial issues, the play presents the rich and coloured Chinese Peranakan world in such vividness that it will seem almost overwhelming. Their attention to detail in terms of dressing and mannerisms is excellently executed. 

Kelvin Tan, playing the lead, does a magnificent portrayal of a suffering mother and a Peranakan matriarch. Following the steps of traditional Peranakan theatre, other cross-gendered casting choices, such as the humorous  Lee Yong Min as Ah Foon, provide a glimpse into a culture and practice that has persisted for many years. 

Perhaps the most distinctive quality of this play is its use of Peranakan patois. The characters of the play speak, cry and joke in fluent Peranakan patois, a mix of Malay, Hokkien and English that is rarely heard anymore. While it may be hard for those who don’t understand their intricate lingo, the language was essential in deepening the sense of culture and ‘Peranakaness’ that the play seeks to represent. 

Organized and supported by Gunong Sayang Association, a cultural organization promoting Peranakan cultural actives through music, dance and drama, the play is a tribute to years of Peranakan heritage. More information can be found on their Facebook page, and tickets are available here.

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