LASALLE College of the Arts
In a Singapore where dialects have been losing relevance for generations, Grandmother Tongue traces a young man’s struggle to connect with his 84-year-old Teochew-speaking grandmother. He teaches her to use a mobile phone. He helps her buy her favourite brand of soya sauce. He visits her in hospital after a fall. Along the way, he begins to understand just what it means to spend decades in linguistic and cultural exile.
Inspired by Kuo Pao Kun’s seminal Mama Looking For Her Cat, Thomas Lim’s funny, insightful play examines the social costs of our mother-tongue language policy and the erasure of dialects in today’s Singapore. In ways both humorous and heartbreaking, Grandmother Tongue explores how our identities are bound up with the languages that we use and the ones that we lose.
Performed in English and Teochew, with English surtitles. Grandmother Tongue was presented by W!LD RICE and premiered at the Singapore Theatre Festival 2016.
CREATIVE & PRODUCTION TEAM
Written & Directed by Thomas Lim
Set Designer CK Chia
Lighting Designer Petrina Dawn Tan
Hair Designer Ashley Lim
Make-up Designer The Make Up Room
Language Coach (Teochew) Lim Ngian Tiong
Production Manager Xu Xin'en
Stage Manager Pamela Lai
Producer Tony Trickett
Tan Shou Chen
“The sold-out success of the play is based on its content and cast… Rei Poh is brilliant in multiple turns… Tan Shou Chen is strong in his low-key role as the grandson…a foil to Jalyn Han’s superb enactment of the grandmother. Giggles are audible as she fusses over her grandson or feeds him or battles him over wasting food… there are sobs when she quietly deteriorates into death.”The Straits Times
“…the regular sniffles from the audience meant that the play struck a close chord with many… captures many facets of what it means to be a senior citizen in Singapore today – painting a very vivid picture of an 84-year-old woman getting alienated from a rapidly changing Singapore… Actors… are simply excellent… a play which does more showing than telling – but speaks volumes nonetheless.”The Business Times
“…an eloquent evocation of the linguistic, cultural and emotional ghetto of an elderly woman who is cut off from a society which regards her native tongue as substandard… Grandmother Tongue captures this ambiguity well, the sense that many of us are stranded in a linguistic no man’s land, able to speak a coloniser’s language well, but unable to communicate in, literally, our grandmothers’ tongues.”Ong Sor Fern
“故事情节立足于社会现实，再现了本地华人隔代语言习惯的差距。祖孙两辈的交流，通过熟 悉的生活场景呈现，亲切动人，令观众在欢笑和感伤的交替中，产生共鸣。The story is firmly rooted in social reality, and depicts the inter-generational differences in the linguistic traditions of the Chinese. Through familiar scenes of everyday life, the interactions between grandparent and grandchild are tender and touching, forging a connection with audiences through their laughter and empathy.”LianHeZaoBao