Why we look to theatre to understand uncomfortable truths
Theatre company Pangdemonium hopes to inspire empathetic conversations around the #MeToo movement with its production, This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls, starring Oon Shu An and Thomas Pang (above). (Photo: Pangdemonium)

Why we look to theatre to understand uncomfortable truths

It started as a hashtag on social platforms to share stories of workplace harassment and assault, quickly evolved into a global phenomenon, and more than a year on, the #MeToo movement has changed the way we regard the topic of sexual harassment and assault. No longer is it swept under the carpet.

In Singapore, people have joined the movement by sharing their #MeToo stories on social channels. And the arts have been seeking to provide a sensitive space offline for people to talk about and understand the complex issue.

Homegrown theatre company Pangdemonium, for example, hopes to inspire empathetic conversations around the subject with its latest production, This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls. The original play by Singapore playwright Ken Kwek is fictional, but it was penned after he interviewed more than 100 people on their real-life experiences.

He believes theatre is “the best artistic form for exploring this issue” because the live portrayal impacts audiences in a visceral way that makes it deeply relatable. And having been moved personally, the audience is more likely to address the issue with an open mind and a desire to listen and stand in another’s shoes.

His sentiment about the power of theatre to seed empathy is shared by the play’s director Tracie Pang.

She says: “The play gives us a chance to experience all sides of the story and to debate it with your friends and family members, away from the public arena of social media and without real-life people being dissected.

“The play is a launch pad for people to engage with, discuss and further open the understanding between men and women.”

This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls will play at the Drama Centre Theatre until 26 May. Details here.

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