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Communities of ImaginationContemporary Southeast Asian Theatres$
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Catherine Diamond

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835842

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835842.001.0001

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Singapore’s Cosmopolitan Identity and Its Theatrical Shadow

Singapore’s Cosmopolitan Identity and Its Theatrical Shadow

Chapter 5 Singapore’s Cosmopolitan Identity and Its Theatrical Shadow
Communities of Imagination

Catherine Diamond

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter studies the formation of Singapore's national identity and how it became central to all cultural activity. Singapore theatre's “coming of age” was demonstrated in the 1980s with the self-reflexive experimental dramas of Stella Kon and Kuo Pao Kun. As Singaporean theatre explored the nature of “Singaporeanness,” its trajectory was regulated by the police force's Public Entertainment Licensing Unit (PELU), which guarded the country's internal security by upholding taboos on discussion of race, religion, sexuality, and politics. The theatre challenges government presuppositions, but rarely adopts a confrontational approach. Playwrights began to distinguish between an “Old Singapore” of the 1990s, in which nearly everything was forbidden, and the “New Singapore,” where no one is sure about the limits of the acceptable.

Keywords:   Singaporean theatre, national identity, experimental dramas, Public Entertainment Licensing Unit, Stella Kon, Kuo Pao Kun

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