Silence of the Kittens
Not a Hannibal Lecter knockoff by the way. This was a play I watched last night with Slayer at the Black Box at the National Library. [one of the smallest performance areas in Singapore]
The play draws on the SARS period, where cats were blamed for spreading the virus, and there was talk on whether they should been culled from the streets, to the chagrin of many cat owners. Using this as an inspirational springboard, the play examines how, in trying to create safe, comfortable lives for ourselves, we somehow let go of what makes us human, or rather, our 'inner cat'.
If I had an inner cat, my fondness for slacking and snacking would probably make me a Garfield. But I do fully agree with one of the lines from the play, where the actress says,
"Somedays when it's hot and I know it's going to be cool later, I like to lie down and laze.... The work can be done later."
My thoughts after the play... Hmmm... I don't know whether it's because I'm older now, or working or whatever, but I find myself half agreeing with the themes in it, and half disagreeing. Half agreeing because I think there's something profoundly disturbing about the idea that it's somehow acceptable to disregard other human and animal lives in the name of societal peace and stability. What kind of people are we if we are unable to show kindness and compassion to the animals in our world? What does that show us about our attitude towards those we deem the weaker and unacceptable in society?
I think if you consider yourself human, then you should have that shred of compassion that separates you from the animals.
In this sense I can fully agree with the allegory presented in the play. We can try to create a safe, comfortable environment for ourselves and our children, but in doing so, we may risk them growing in a sterile, growth-impeded environment, where anything 'dirty' or 'different' is to be chucked away or hidden under covers.
In fact, we risk creating a narrow, close-minded society where people are unable to accept those even slightly different from themselves.
But of course, on the other side of the coin, looking at the audience members already show you what kinds of people are those who are agreeing and identifying with the themes in the play. A quick glance around showed western-educated, [i heard a few faux accents] well-dressed and possibly decently-paid employees. In other words, those who have the money to spend on plays, and the time, on a Friday night to watch the show. Maybe cos they have no children to occupy their time, and no need to work late in order to earn a living.
No surprise then, that they are the minority who are bemoaning their lack of response or rights in this society.
For a better comparison, maybe we can compare the students in my secondary school, to the students in the primary school where I teach. Most of us back then had both parents around, grew up in a relatively middle class setting, and enough money to at least eat during recess and buy the textbooks and stationery we needed.
Looking through my pupils' particulars one day, I could see, albeit through a lot of second-guessing, what kind of lifestyles they led. Some pupils had the particulars for either the father or mother conspicuously blank. Most parents were working in lower income job brackets, and possibly earned less than I did. One girl once skipped school because her mother had to work in the afternoon and didn't want her coming home to an empty home. [huh?] Some pupils went without green pens or didn't have exercise books or activity books for weeks because their parents forgot. I'm praying it's not because they didn't have the $2 to spare at that point of time.
How do you tell these people the importance of civil rights for all? How do they convince them that such values are important, when they are too busy trying to eke out a living for themselves?
Who are the real victims?