The ushers put on a show

Saturday 16 June 2001 – Singapore

Met Dr Tou Liang Chang at Wheelock Place for a further discussion of the SSO. (Dr Chang is on the board and is also establishing a new Marketing Committee to try and get the orchestra out of the doldrums it finds itself in. He is also extremely passionate and knowledgeable about music and writes a lot of the program notes and copy for the orchestra, the Lyric Opera and the Friends of the SSO.)

Our meeting lasted a couple of hours, so afterwards I wandered along to Kinokuniya bookshop, where I purchased a Penguin compendium of Joseph Conrad’s tales of the Far East, my interest having been piqued by my visit to the Indonesian Islands.  I’ve been reading a book a fortnight since arriving and hopefully this one will last a few weeks, otherwise I’ll never get them all home! I also purchased a new cassette walkman, quite a high tech little device, and found a couple of tapes (no-one much sells pre-recorded cassette tapes any more!) to play on it.

I decided to see a festival show in the evening, and chose a Swiss production that I knew nothing about – Hashirigaki (meaning talking whilst walking in Japanese). It was performance art, combining interesting design, beautiful lighting, a gorgeous soundscape, text from Gertrude Stein’s The Making of an American, movement and more. It was art, but didn’t take itself too seriously, a mistake often made by such productions. It made for quite a daffy evening’s interest.

I ended up sitting next to Leslie Tan, and we chatted about various things, which was good as we hadn’t managed to get together for that purpose yet. The ushers of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall should be given their own show in next year’s festival. Tonight, they certainly did their best to steal the show from the performers we’d paid to see. They would be a fine match for the Shelverton family at Hobart’s Theatre Royal.

They fiddled with drapes, dropped trays of glasses outside the door and entered and exited the theatre during the performance for no apparent reason (except for one who came in near the end of the show and gathered up his change of clothes, shoes and hanger that he’d left on a seat). They managed all of this whilst being of no service whatsoever to the audience (I found I’d forgotten to collect a program before taking my seat, and had to descend three floors to get one from the main foyer!)

Statuettes of Ganesh in a Singapore shop
Statuettes of Ganesh in a Singapore shop

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