story Hadul Abmid
A bare stage, a string of monologues, and many interactive segments with the audience—is this the new theatre of Yale-NUS College? Long established in the college, the DoSpians have been known for their performances, which attempt to articulate a vision for the community, but Thursday night’s piece, DoS Forum, deserves praise on its own for pulling all the stops for an arresting night of drama.
As befitting a cutting-edge liberal arts college, DoS Forum departed from many formalisms of the theatre, eschewing elaborate sets and costumes for extreme minimalism. A wooden floor and the use of house lights effectively blurred the lines between the real world and the performance itself. The performers, Kale Parsley, Dory Pau and Chuck Baileys delivered stirring monologues on notions of change while wearing khaki pants. “I’m sure they were symbolic in some way, I just know it,” said Bodoh Peh Kambing ’17.
Other students were less enthusiastic about the radical departure from form. “It was a strange performance,” said Estra Gon ’17. “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!” Gon said. He felt that monologues were subpar, even if they were delivered beautifully. Budding theatre enthusiast, Pretend Shus Tul ’18 added, “I couldn’t hear Pau from the back of the performance space, but her monologue was full of feeling”.
Kambing, a professional wayang specialist, felt that the collective effervescence as audience and performer shared the space was all that was needed. “The clapping at the end of every segment was genius. I’m sold on this new form of theatre and I’ll use it during my own wayang performance,” he said.
Baileys was arguably the best performer of the night. His baritone voice filled the space as he pontificated on the difficulties of improving “the Common Curriculum”. He brought full dramatic energy to the line “Would you be interested in reworking the liberal arts education from the ground up?” and left audiences enraptured by his compelling stage presence. Tul noted that Pau’s monologue may have benefitted from more intense workshopping, saying that “The language, I felt, could have benefitted from a more Shakespearean flavor. Give me rich descriptions of the size of our toilets, and our nine square meter rooms! Let me smell that musty concrete.”
The show was not without its hiccups. During one of the interactive segments, where audience members were cajoled into asking questions, a student interrupted onstage action with his own tirade on safer sex practices, much to the chagrin of the audience present. “Leave it up to Yale-NUS students to interrupt everything,” Tul said. “He could have waited until the post-show dialogue to have his views heard!” he added. Tensions looked to have peaked at that moment, but diffused soon with Parsley’s improvisation incorporating the tirade. “That was a close save, who would have known what we might have talked about if Parsley didn’t stop him,” said Gon.
“I had my reservations about DoS Forum putting Parsley, Pau and Baileys together, but it’s a perfect blend of East meets West!” said Kambing. And indeed, as everyone rushed to have the free food held hostage till the postshow dialogue was over, it was evident that the DoSpians had once again, gotten everyone on board with their abstract performance.
This article was part of our April 1st, 2015, satire issue. Individuals, statements and opinions in this issue are purely fictional and not representative of any real-world entities.