17 Apr - 13 May 2001
The Room Upstairs @ 42 Waterloo Street, Singapore
Take a walk on the wild side with Zoe, a Malaysian cross-dresser and gardening enthusiast who sees life in London through false eyelashes. From monsoons in Malacca to steamy hothouses in Kew Gardens, An Occasional Orchid explodes the myth of a “good Chinese girl” and dishes the dirt on East-West relations in a fertile post-colonial garden. An unforgettable evening of intercultural horticultural wanderings in a Wonderbra!
Joe is a medical student in London, experiencing new freedoms half a world away from his Malaysian hometown and his parents' watchful eyes. An Occasional Orchid follows his transformation into Zoe, an exotic Asian transvestite, a beautiful flower of the East, meticulously constructed to please Bryan. Initially emboldened by the lustful white male gaze, Zoe embarks on an increasingly desperate search for love.
Slipping between illusion and reality, tragedy becomes self-realisation as she strips off the artifice constructed for Bryan and places a call to Malacca: "Hello? Mum? I've booked my flight. There's someone I'd like you to meet." New challenges await but Zoe has survived the eroticisation of the exotic, to dress up another day.
AN OCCASIONAL ORCHID was picked from over 250 scripts submitted to the 2nd London One-Person Play Festival and premiered on 30 Oct 1996 at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden Town. It was one of the"Picks Of The Festival", and transferred to Battersea Arts Centre as part of Time Out magazine's "I Wish I'd Seen That" season.
In Jan 1997, it was a highlight at the Hong Kong Fringe Festival, and in May, it went on to play at the Watermans Art Centre as part of the TRIPITAKA in Triplicate season, a retrospective of Ivan Heng's body of original intercultural works.
Just weeks later, it was staged at the Institute of Contemporary Art of Great Britain in the Fortune Cookies season (May 1997), an international platform featuring the work of the international Chinese Diaspora, where it represented Singapore, Malaysia and the UK.
In December 1999, the Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands in Amsterdam invited AN OCCASIONAL ORCHID to perform as part of their Chinese Karakters season.
In 2000, AN OCCASIONAL ORCHID was staged twice in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia as a W!LD RICE production in collaboration with Dramalab KL.
The writers have refined the script over the years with each performance and this version of AN OCCASIONAL ORCHID is the fifth and probably final draft of the play, Ivan Heng and Chowee Leow hope to have it published in the near future.
CREATIVE & PRODUCTION TEAM
Playwright Ivan Heng & Chowee Leow
Director Ivan Heng
Set Designers Ivan Heng & Chowee Leow
Lighting Designer Ivan Heng
Sound Designer Neale Hanvey
Costume Designers Ivan Heng & Chowee Leow
Hair & Wigs Ashley Lim
Production Manager Felina Khong
Stage Manager Teo Kuang Han
Producer Ivan Heng
Chowee Leow as Joe/Zoe
"The irresistible honesty of Chowee's performance and Ivan Heng's direction really pulled the piece together and they had the audience eating out of their hands."South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
"It's an entertaining, if occasionally excrutiating, glimpse at the cultural experiences of a son becoming his mother in a foreign land. Powerful!"Time Out, London
"Chowee Leow is a talented racounteur, exploding myths with deadly accuracy and dropping carefully timed bombs among the bonhomie. Funny and sad in equal measure... Don't on any account miss it!"QX International, London