From The Belly Of The Carp lends itself to dramatisation! The Glowers Senior Drama Group, based at Kampong Glam CC, staged a marvellous version (in June 2014) incorporating a lot of dialects, which was highly appropriate, given their focus on the first part of the book dealing with the flood of migrants in the nineteenth century.
If ever a book was suited to celebrating Singapore’s 50 Anniversary, From The Belly Of The Carp is it!
Review by Richard Lord
QLRS Vol. 1 No. 3 Apr 2002
Back in early February, we were treated to a strong theatrical experience -
Admittedly, this volume always packed a good deal of dramatic potential, being a series of dramatic monologues giving voice to the famous, the little-
But let’s concentrate here on how well Jenkins and his talented cast have sliced and stitched to make this a most enjoyable evening of theatre. The programme offers quick sketches of various personages, real and imagined, for whom the Singapore River has played an important role. (The “belly of the carp”, we are to learn, is Boat Quay.) Starting with the unavoidable Sir Stamford Raffles and ending with a modern-
Jenkins and company look at a broad collection of personalities who have contributed to the history of Singapore since Raffles first declared it the property of the British crown. We meet coolies, thieves fortune-
The trip is exhilarating, and at the end we feel that we have seen so much of the history of this place and wish we could see even more. It’s true that the work as a whole still exhibits a structure which at times seems a little disjointed or too convenient, so the whole stands as a collection of individual gems rather than an integrated work with a clear thrust. But taking the show on its own terms, this objection seems a little beside the point. What Belly does, it does very well, and we should appreciate it for that. Not that every piece in the program is a flawless gem (there are a number of caricatures, such as our tourists, and a few sketches are just too sketchy), but there is much more true value than dross here.
So, kudos to Wendy Kweh, Lim Yu-
I have staged From The Belly of the Carp twice -
As Richard Lord surmises in his review, as the book consists of dramatic monologues, even as I was writing it I was imagining the possibilities of staging it.
In both productions I have chosen to work with a cast of six who play multiple roles (between 8 -
Catherine Sng in her work with The Glowers’ senior citizens group has used many more and to great effect, and has often had characters speak in dialect too -