Vivien and The Shadows

Director's Notes

The following is an extract from the Director’s notes written for the programme of Vivien and The Shadows, performed at Memorial Hall, Carolina Performing Arts on October 2008…

“I have always been fascinated by Vivien Leigh and Blanche Dubois; how the two women meld into each other in the popular imagination due to the great Hollywood film. I read the play as a teenager and saw the film around the same time; my fascination has not wavered since. The opportunity to create around this fascination presented itself when Emil Kang of Carolina Performing Arts invited me to make a new contemporary performance.

Vivien and The Shadows is inspired by the “taboo” concept of copying. Can we make something new when we copy? Is a copy an original? What happens when I ask a group of artist collaborators to come together to explore what is the copy in their individual practice of acting, writing, video/film, music, design? Personally, I am interested in the concept of copying as the road to perfection in Asian traditional theatre. There, copying is an established art form where a master will transfer his/her skills to a younger performer by having the latter copy the precise gestures, movements, singing, emotional trajectory, etc. In our workshops, we look at the mechanics of copying and also regeneration, through free reinvention of the original into new originals.

At the same time, Vivien and The Shadows embraces the idea of “dreaming the dream” – where one lives out one’s fantasy and great hope, where one crosses the divide between the imagined and the real, where the imagined/fantasy perhaps makes living in the real world more bearable. This puts us on the slippery slope of Real vs. Artifice, the playfulness of an artificial theatre…”

Ong Keng Sen
October 2008

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