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Fringe Commission • World Premiere

R18 (Homosexual Content)

11 - 14 January 2017, 8pm
14 - 15 January 2017, 3pm
Black Box, Centre 42

Written and Directed by: Tan Liting
Cast - Deonn Yang, Farah Ong, Shannen Tan, Fadhil Daud and Henrik Cheng

What does it mean to be “feminine” or “masculine” today, and can you take on shades of both? 

Five characters navigate life on the fringes as they grapple with gender definitions, whether by choice or by circumstance. At best, society disregards them. At worst, they are relentlessly harassed—even viciously bullied—for being different. 

Inspired by the true stories of women (and men) who relate to being butch,Pretty Butch examines feminine masculinity that is often hidden from everyday life and explores the diversity of butchness through the experiences of different people who defy gender conventions.

Pretty Butch, was developed in residence at Centre 42, under the Boiler Room and the Basement Workshop, a programme for new works and works-in-the-making.

Supported by Two Queens Asia, FRY Rooftop Bistro & Bar, BAR NAKED, The Garden Slug and Dough Empire.

Through a series of painfully honest monologues and intimate dialogues, these characters reveal their internal struggles between remaining true to themselves and acceding to society’s convention.
[On scenes between Becs and Leslie] I find myself feeling thankful for an onstage intimacy that is neither forced nor awkward.


‘Pretty Butch’ is a comedy, a sequence of character studies, a confession with some built-in campy dream sequences.
The drums in the sound score create an air of suspense. The four actors are convincing, and there are great moments of comedy and surprise.
In the evolving story of a pregnant lesbian couple, the profundity of queer anxiety is prominent, going for a pre-natal parenting course. Absurdity ensues when finding out there can only be “one mummy and one daddy”. It’s incredibly painful, but the script keeps it light. The receptionist ‘aunty’ is played by 3 actors, a brilliant device.


Let me begin by praising the show. At first glance, it would have seemed to be about angry butches who were struggling to be pretty, or struggling or fighting for acceptance. Here is where the audience is proven wrong. Sensitive and nuanced, this piece is almost like a Judith Butler essay, popping at the seams with its investigation of gender and the way it is performed, mimed, mocked and torn apart basically.
Every story is relatable, the dialogues are accessible, and did not alienate anyone. The approach was structured and simple yet very emotional. I felt a pinch to the heart when there was discussion about bringing a child to this “fucked up world”. These parts were tender, but intuitive to reality. They were so REAL.


In the third story, Farah Ong and Shannen Tan played a lesbian couple with their own child. Despite trying to live as a ‘normal’ couple, society attempts to thwart them at every turn, finding fault and misconception everywhere, such as asking who is the butch or femme in the relationship, or being mistaken for a man in the ladies toilets. The true value of this segment then, is showing how the most important thing of all that helped them get through the daily struggle was the strength they found in each other. Even in spite of the difficult circumstances, with the emotional support, the two are able to triumph over haters. With their convincing portrayal as a queer couple in love and doting mothers, their story left the biggest impression on me, and really allowed me to sympathise with their plight and listen to their sincere performance


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