All About My Mother
Commissioned and produced by Esplanade Theatres on the Bay
All About My Mother was conceived as a duet between me and my grandpa Joseph Yong. We wanted to talk about matriarchs and family. From opposite sides of the sofa (and life), we recollected and imagined our relationships to the women around us. Together we read Stella Kon's play Emily of Emerald Hill, that was one of our starting points.
My granddad died before we made it to the studio. So I brought together a team of friends and collaborators Kei Franklin, Alan Fielden, Jevon Chandra and Malachy Orozco to create the show with me and I performed the piece on my own.
All About My Mother explores the parent we least want to grow up into but can’t help seeing ourselves become. We try to understand the matriarch, to get under her skin but not make her angry; to get under her skin and use it as a blanket; to get under her skin, press our cheek against it and love her. In All About My Mother, I am grieving.
There is some singing, some dancing, some gossiping, and some bringing back the dead as we figure out what we are and who we’re made of.
Stella Kon attended the show, what an honour.
Here are some audience impressions on the piece:
"It made me think about the strength it takes to remember and forget with grace, to love detestable parts of those we love and ourselves."
"It was so good to hear the old songs... I was like Jemima when I was her age. I had the same thoughts and fears. I think in my 40s, I have come to accept them. We choose what we want to inherit."
"I love the show because it’s so honest, real and relatable... short and sweet yet deep and enjoyable.”
"Intended to be performed with her grandfather, who passed away before they could make the show, it deals filial expectations, sacrifice and inheritance; and ‘the fine line between inheritance and inevitability.’ It’s so considered and generous, and resists easy resolution."
Premiere: 22-23 April 2016, The Studios RAW series, Esplanade Theatre Studio, Singapore
Dramaturg, writer and co-creator: Alan Fielden
Technical designer, writer and co-creator: Malachy Orozco
Co-creators: Kei Franklin and Jevon Chandra
Lead artist and performer: me
Production photograph by Crispian Chan, courtesy of Esplanade