When Goh Boon Teck first read about the transsexual, Maggie Lai, his tears couldn’t stop flowing. Overcome by her poignant tale of a boy who just wanted to be a girl, the playwright set about creating a tribute to her, in the way that he knew best.
Hence, the play ‘Purple’ was born. That was 17 years ago, today, in 2012, ‘Purple’ will be back on stage and in Goh’s words, more “dynamic, playful and exciting” than ever. The play will run from 2 August to 18 August at Bugis+’s Joyden Hall but unlike its previous runs in (first in 1995, then 1998); it will feature an updated script, additional music, as well as some circus elements. You can expect to see more musical bits and circus acts like the trapeze as well as aerial silks woven into the play.
With regards to such delicate subject matter, Goh was worried about not slicing up too much blood, yet still keeping the tears.
“The hardest part was to write about the problematic relationship between the father and son. I really desire to account a moving and engaging story yet I do not want to hurt anyone in the process.”
‘Purple’ is also an observation of a human being embracing the two worlds- the male and female. It’s this merging that also explains why he named his play Purple.
"Purple is a sexy and complex colour that is fused with Blue and Red. Blue is usually associated to masculinity and Red for femininity," Goh explains
To Goh, Singapore, as a “nation is acid-bleached”. Yet, he feels that there is so much more going on, underneath its seemingly pristine exterior. Besides the telling of Maggie’s tale, ‘Purple’ was also meant to examine the ways and the extents that people were being castrated, in figurative terms, emotionally, creatively and mentally.
Responding to the idea if today’s large amount of cross-dressing roles was a stereotype, Goh denied this.
“Many years ago, one of the guidelines under MDA was “Do not cross-dress in Theatre” but Iam glad it is no longer there. Cross dressing is part of theatre art which could be traced backto 2,700 years ago. Artists are asked to perform the other gender if need to and this is simply a test of acting skill. It is not a stereotype but a powerful and technically challenging acting device.”
And powerful and challenging it is. Looking at his work, he remarks, “I am very glad that a play I wrote 17 years ago is being restaged. This updated 2012 version is dynamic, playful and exciting!”