This presentation channels the trilogy recently staged by Drama Box “It Won’t Be To Long” to dwell in the haunted spaces of land-scarce Singapore, asking which spaces are allowed to survive, how spaces are repressed and what remains as a place is disinterred.

The first part (The Lesson) is a free interactive performance held outside the Toa Payoh Library. A new MRT station is to be built for a housing estate and members of the public enter the scenario assuming the roles of property agents, policy-makers and power-brokers, ultimately deciding what must go to make space for the community. The Cemetery unfolds as a two-part performance (Dawn and Dusk) that explores Bukit Brown Cemetery, a site that is slated for redevelopment to make way for a 4-lane expressway. Dawn is a site-specific performance at the cemetery while Dusk is a piece of Verbatim Theatre that documents the struggle between the various stakeholders of Bukit Brown, including the Heritage Society, civil society representatives, institutions and the families of those interred.

By conjuring the uncanny figure of ‘haunting’, this paper evokes the spectral notions of a place that connotes persistent lingering, recalcitrant remains, and posits other modes of phantom dwelling that disturbs the claims of a generic space that is ‘tabula rasa’. This paper casts the performative intervention of “It Won’t Be Too Long” as a haunting that remains even in the afterlife of the cemetery. The haunted space of the performance represents a site of contestation that renders uncanny the hegemonic articulations of space in state narratives. What is ‘un-homed’ in the exhumation of a place? Perhaps the only thing more terrifying than ghosts then is the very absence of their haunting.

Moderated by Dan Koh.

About the Speaker

Shawn Chua’s performance research engages with the uncanny lives of objects, from puppetry to archives, and from thinking machines to queer personhoods. He was awarded the NAC Art Scholarship (postgraduate) and holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Chua is currently a researcher and archivist at The Necessary Stage.

About the Moderator

A Singapore Creative Writing Residency 2013 writer-in-residence, Dan writes and edits creative non-fiction about Singapore’s history, heritage and culture. The author of ‘Gila Bola!: Surviving Singapore Soccer’ (2012), Dan’s essays and articles have also been published in Time Out Singapore, BiblioAsia, Infopedia, NYLON Singapore, The Online Citizen and other publications. As an editor, Dan edited and co-edited over 15 books for local publisher Epigram Books, including the biographies ‘Let the People Have Him––Chiam See Tong: The Early Years’ (2014), and ‘The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye’ (2015).

[Part of Survey: Space, Sharing, Haunting, curated by Post-Museum]