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Michael Chiang's Acclaimed Comedy, 'Private Parts', will be Restaged this November

By Flora  /  14 Aug 2018 (Tuesday)

Credit: Michael Chiang Playthings Ltd  (L-R: Michael Chiang, Hirzi Zulkiflie, Shane Mardjuki, Jason Godfrey, Chua Enlai, Zee Wong, Andrew Marko and Beatrice Chia-Richmond) 

One of Michael Chiang’s highly-acclaimed plays, ‘Private Parts’ returns to the big stage this November with a brand new cast. 

Directed by Beatrice Chia-Richmond, this 26-year-old play debuted at the Singapore International Arts Festival in 1992 and created a buzz for its daring approach to feature transsexual characters as protagonists in a mainstream comedy.

This fourth staging of the classic play marks the inaugural production under Chiang’s new non-profit company, Michael Chiang Playthings, and will be staged in its original context that is set in the 1990s.

Credit: Michael Chiang Playthings Ltd

The inventive story traces the misadventures of a popular talk- show host, Warren Lee, who mysteriously turns up at a sex-change clinic. There, he encounters the tart-tongued Mirabella, the light-headed Lavinia and the quietly intense Edward. In a bid to boost ratings, he tries to convince his colourful new friends to appear on his TV show, which leads to unexpected consequences…

Chua Enlai and Shane Mardjuki plays Mirabella and Lavinia respectively, together with Zee Wong as Edward and Jason Godfrey as the TV host, Warren. Other cast members include Jo Tan, Andrew Marko, Frances Lee, Hirzi Zulkiflie, Andy Cai and Andreas Chua. 

“It is a great responsibility that I have - to play a man who is transitioning to be a woman- in this play. I have to portray it in a way that is real and having that balance of the comedic elements without being camp,” shared Chua. 
He added: “I guess the challenge for me would be to play a woman rather than play a man playing a woman.”

Chia, who directed Chiang’s previous productions like Army Daze 2 (2017) and High Class (2013) calls Private Parts ‘Michael’s best piece of writing’. The idea of a restage floated around four years ago but officially started its pre-production last year with an open call which received an overwhelming response. 

Credit: Michael Chiang Playthings Ltd

“We had an open call in around April last year where we wanted to see who are the good actors out there who we are not familiar with. We had a tremendous response where so many people wanted to work on this production and we were so heartened by that. I don’t think I had ever auditioned so rigorously,” quipped Chia, who highlighted that it was crucial to get the right actors for the play. 

She explained that after “many long conversations with Michael”, it was a deliberate decision to not contemporize the 1992 play. 

“What was more interesting is when we read with the cast, it worked very much as a piece. When we don’t change it and situate it in the 1990s, then it allow us to see the piece through a long lens where we can now look at it in 2018 to see what was it like in the 1990s and ask ourselves as an audience how far have we come as a nation on this subject, and have attitudes and perspectives changed since.”

Private Parts will be staged at the Drama Centre from 2-18 November. Tickets to Private Parts are on sale, with early bird discounts ending on 31st August. 
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