The art of change: Discover pass·ages at Esplanade Theatre Studio

Published on 09 April 2024
By Team Catch

Are you ready for your swan song, or are you ready to be honest with yourself?

It is the last thing 58-year-old Shivani, a mature dancer past her prime, wants to hear from her doctor after suffering a meniscus tear. Despite her determination to demonstrate the strength and vitality of ageing bodies, the reality is that hers is starting to face very real limitations.

Her story is just one of four different storylines in pass·ages, a multi-disciplinary production about the complexities and anxieties surrounding the inevitable process of ageing and how navigating this looks vastly different for everyone.

Collage of Sim Yan Ying "YY", Jean Tay, and Dapheny Chen (from left to right) 

Immerse yourself in this collaborative masterpiece by Sim Yan Ying “YY”, Jean Tay, and Dapheny Chen (from left to right)

Conceptualised and directed by theatre artist Sim Yan Ying “YY”, the play is part of TRIP, an Esplanade programme that gives early-career directors a chance to showcase their work at the Esplanade Theatre Studio. With the creative input of Jean Tay's writing and Dapheny Chen's choreography, pass·ages evolves into a collaborative masterpiece, leading audiences on a captivating journey.

The dance of time

Full shot of pass·ages performers rehearsing

Prepare to be mesmerised as talented actors take centre stage and bring this story to life!

The topic of ageing often has a gendered dimension to it. Simply put, gendered ageism exists, and women who are visibly ageing are often dismissed as less valuable and competent simply because they no longer fit society’s vision of a youthful and attractive woman. 

In an early scene, Shivani pitches her idea for a dance production titled “The Aging Dancer”, only for the judging panel to tell her that it “won’t fit the festival lineup”. 

But there is no denying that ageing sometimes brings about distinct, life-altering changes. Another character, the elderly Aunty Ching, is a shell of her former self, suffering from dementia so severe that she calls her mirror a “thing” to “see face”. On the other hand, 39-year-old Ogy is in a race against her biological clock, trying desperately—and failing—to conceive even after years of IVF treatment.

For others, ageing is a privilege. The play’s youngest character, 18-year-old Millie, is diagnosed with a terminal brain illness and only has limited time to live. “I want to grow old, mum,” the teenager says desperately in a particularly poignant scene. “I want the white hair and the dentures.”

Delving deeper with sensory immersion

pass·ages key visual

Embark on a captivating journey this weekend with pass·ages!

The play seamlessly weaves together compelling storylines and abstract dance sequences, where characters move to atmospheric music as if they're in a different world. These scenes lack specific meaning as “it’s meant to be more visceral than cerebral,” said director “YY”. 

This direction can already be seen right when the play starts as the audience are invited to close their eyes, practise deep breathes, and reflect on given prompts. Essentially, It establishes the play as a space for contemplation from the very beginning. With its diverse and empathetic characters, there's something for every woman in the audience, regardless of age.

Pass your time wisely with pass·ages running from 12 to 14 April 2024 at the Esplanade Theatre Studio. Tickets are priced from $24. There will be a post-show dialogue with the director after the 8pm and 3pm performances on 13 and 14 April respectively. 


All images are credited to Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.


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