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Gateway Arts’ I and You echoes the beauty of mutual support

2 mins read

A collage of vintage band posters. A loft bed with staircase storage full of books and CDs. A teenage girl sits underneath, laughing to herself behind a white curtain. The music in the room continues to grow louder until an intruder bursts into the room, leaving the girl shrieking in fear.

No, this isn't a play-by-play of a horror movie, but the opening scene of Gateway Arts’ award-winning play I and You. 17-year-old Caroline, played by Evangel Wong, suffers from a liver disease that keeps her at home, causing her to think about her life and death every day.

The mysterious intruder is her classmate Anthony, played by Zulfiqar Izzudin, who could not be more different from her. He’s a star student who’s also on the basketball team, but most importantly, he turns out to be the friend she never knew she needed, her lifeline to the beauty and possibility of the outside world.

An unlikely bond

Anthony bursts into Caroline’s room with the phrase “I and this mystery, here we stand'' hanging from his lips. As it turns out, they are unwilling group mates for their school’s literature project on Walt Whitman’s poetry, and the line is from his famous poem Song of Myself.

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Despite being classmates, the pair don't know much about each other. But as Anthony continuously probes Caroline about her hobbies, passions, and dreams, she slowly opens up and is eventually won over by his sincerity. Now, they no longer see each other as a puzzle to solve, but instead, they accept each other as true friends, quirks and all.

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Their bond is affirmed when, towards the end of the play, Caroline uses the white curtain that once kept her isolated from the outside world as a backdrop for her cherished mini planetarium instead. She invites Anthony into her space, the two gazing at the projection of the night sky, shoulder to shoulder.

Ultimately, I and You remind us of an important lesson that’s often taken for granted—the value of human connection. Caroline herself presents this precious lesson during their literature project on the use of the pronoun 'you' in Whitman’s Song of Myself. “You is very much…we,” she says.

The audience also becomes a crucial part of “we”. On select dates, post-show dialogues were conducted by TOUCH Mental Wellness, breaking down the play’s themes and allowing audience members to share their thoughts on which character they resonated with or why they felt the characters acted in certain ways.

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At its core, I and You is about our shared humanity, reminding us that sometimes, we don’t have to fight our battles alone.

Directed by Samantha Scott-Blackhall, this play ran from 16 to 25 May, coinciding with Mental Health Awareness month. I and You is part of a larger series of Gateway Arts’ productions whose theme is mental health, including the children’s play staged earlier this year, SmartyPants and the Swordfish.

For first dibs on Gateway Arts’ future productions, keep an eye out right here on!

All images are credited to Gateway Arts.

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