“Five Easy Pieces” is a theatrical show which is currently being played at Victoria Theatre in Singapore International Festival of Arts.
The show is based on a life and crimes of notorious Belgian criminal Marc Dutroux. He was a paedophile who was arrested in 1996 for series of child sex crime which shook the nation.
The show, which involved advisors, a child psychologist, and the young actors’ parents during the rehearsals, is performed by seven young artists who enacts five scenes, playing roles that include a police officer, one of the victims, the parents of a victim and the father of Dutroux.
The show was performed over three days (18 – 20 August), was rated R18 by the Media Development Authority (MDA) on 16 August. MDA claims that this is because the show explores mature context of paedophilia.
The director of the Singapore International Festival of Arts, Ong Keng Sen , expressed his disappointment on his Facebook account saying that the tale is a cautionary story which affects children most, just like sex education. It is important for the children to understand the full context of what they can be exposed to.
He said that the consultative panels are usually volunteers who come from a variety backgrounds with limited time to research the contexts. They are not professional experts.
“MDA has to be the responsible expert to provide the contexts or else it should not have the important role of controlling information flow in our country,” he said.
Mr Ong said that he had submitted the full script and the full video more than two months ago and if only the panels managed to work through this query at the time, they would have enough time to look at the show and would have perceived the need for young people to be allowed into the theatre for an issue which concerns them.
He said, “This is a wasted opportunity for informed engagement with young people of the dangers which exist all around them, performed by their peers.”
Mr Ong said that a politician asked him whether it was exploitative that children are performing such intimate stories for adults only.
“I said its only here in Singapore, no where else have they encountered this. Singaporeans have to ask why our censorship system leads to distortions like in this case the neoliberal consumption of these children’s stories as the young are no longer allowed to experience what concerns them most. The strongest reason to do the work has been lobotomized,” he answered.
The show has ended, and Mr Keng wrote, “The audience loved the show despite the senseless censorship. we are getting so many letters from parents, from teachers, from journalists, from general public questioning the need to restrict the audience.”
Read here for the review of the show by Ng Yi-Sheng.
Edit – Earlier it was noted that Mr Ong is the director of the show, it has been corrected that Mr Ong is the festival director of the entire Singapore International Festival of Arts. We apologise for the mistake.