Following his debut play in 2021, former Resident Artist at Drama Box, Chng Yi Kai, returns with a brand new show – When cloud catches colours, playing at the Drama Centre Black Box this March.
Marking Drama Box’s first production in the theatre in 2023, When cloud catches colours is based on true accounts collected from interviews, that highlights how the sense of safety changes for a queer person as they get older, a rarely discussed issue amidst celebration of diversity and equality. Written and directed by Yi Kai, When cloud catches colours features the stories of Qing and E (Judy Ngo and Julius Foo), two homosexual individuals who are in their fifties and finding that they have different sets of challenges to overcome at the cusp of old age.
As a theatre practitioner with aspirations to create socially-conscious works that extend the capacity of humans and communities, Yi Kai is drawn to telling stories of marginalised communities. “A few years ago, I heard a story about a 60-over-years-old gay person who lost his long-time partner to cancer, but because he never really came out to anyone he had very little support network. Due to years of suppression and internalised oppression, the devastation from the loss became quite complex and difficult, and I can only imagine the pain and loneliness that he was going through”.
Through research and conversations, Yi Kai learnt that this type of loss is quite common for queer people above 50 years old, especially when the relationship was largely hidden. “I realised that issues faced by older queer individuals are not talked about as often, which led me to think about ‘queer ageing’ as a topic to explore”. Despite the sexual orientation of the play’s central characters, the issues that they grapple with – solo caregiving for elderly parents, not gaining the acceptance of family and facing old age alone – are universal.
Drawing from his background in anthropological studies, Yi Kai is interested in the notions of “realness” in storytelling, and how real stories and words allow the audience to listen and receive in ways that feel more honest, intimate and genuine.
Yi Kai shares why he continues to use verbatim theatre for his new work, “Many of the methods in verbatim theatre is to gather stories via conversations and interviews, and then transposing these stories into theatrical forms. This extension from an intimate interview to a larger audience is also, for me, an aesthetic of opening up stories beyond the individual. In this case we get to present real stories, words and thought processes of the queer community, but still allow the interviewees to maintain a safe distance through anonymity. This allows those, who are not as open about their identity, to also share their stories to the larger world truthfully but safely.”
When cloud catches colours runs from 3rd to 5th March 2023 at the Drama Centre Black Box. Tickets available from BookMyShow
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