Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Do the places in our memories still exist?

That was the question that came to my mind after watching the World Premiere of A Stranger at Home, presented by Drama Box, last Saturday.

It was quite thought-provoking, while being fairly entertaining. Some of the scenes subtly highlighted on the several ironies, but I have a sense that I could not fully appreciate all of these ironies. I still could not comprehend the significance of many of the scenes. In some ways, there were stories within a story. When one finished watching the show, these stories which did not seem at all related initially suddenly felt interconnected to each other.

The entire production was in Mandarin, with English subtitles. While the subtitles and the body-language of the casts were helpful to guide the non-Mandarin-speaking audience understand what was going on, somehow some of the nuances in the script just demand one to understand Mandarin. There was a few passages whereby the script was articulated in Hokkien (a kind of Chinese dialect) and I felt totally lost because I did not understand the language.

As the name of this production suggests, it is possible for one to feel like a stranger in one's homeland. Maybe the familiar is no longer easily within reach?

There was a scene whereby the main cast spoke about her meeting of a person whose primary school, secondary school and university which he had attended no longer existed. Demolished, obsolete. The main cast said that this person told her all these in a matter-of-fact manner. Was the underlying tone of acceptance or of resignation, I wonder?

Now I wonder, do the playgrounds that we have spent our childhood years in still exist? Do the places that we had used to frequent many years ago still remain for us to revisit?

It sounds like progress is the supreme word that would give the permission for old buildings and facilities (containing much of our heritage) to be demolished so that there will be space for new ones to be built. But would things be the same again?

I remember that there used to be a playground on the eighth floor of Wisma Atria shopping mall when I was a child. When I was a teenager, I had wanted to revisit the place, but alas, it was no longer there. I remember visiting Van Kleef Aquarium when I was a child, peering through the glass surfaces of the many tanks to see fascinating marine creatures. When I had wanted to take another look of it years later, it had been demolished. The inevitable, because we have to progress? Maybe memories are meant to exist in our mind?

Of course, new things can be welcomed. These create new memories for ourselves. It is just that could there be better ways to keep our heritage alive, without sacrificing progress?

A Stranger at Home is quite an insightful and sincere production, hopefully it will presented again in the future so that others who have missed it might catch it.


Simple American said...

I understand this feeling PY. Every home I lived inside the Houston city limits has been demolished for new development. Even the two apartments I shared with my wife are gone. Makes it hard to rekindle some memories.

Goldilocks said...

best to take lots of photos then =) (although it doesn't help recreate the "feel" of the place)

pinkie said...

exactly my tots, Goldilocks! Greatest invention is the camera! to capture every moment... ;)