The Pitch

A HUGE APPLAUSE to this great collaboration among the three big-time theatre companies! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸΏπŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸΌ

Great story! I saw many efforts put in this short film! However, I wish there could be captions for the background song at the end credits!

After Adrian sang in his full emotions, I could feel my love going out all to this collaboration. Then, the end credits arrived with the song that I couldn’t “hear” fully. No captions…!If only this part got captions, I could possibly cry out my heart to everyone who makes art in a variety of forms.

The Covid-19 situation has affected many of us – artists, musicians, theatre creators, so on… BUT what about d/Deaf and Disabled artists in Singapore? We’re also affected – we’re considered as the “non-essential” artists. Even lower than those mainstreamed artists; perhaps at the bottom line.

Pardon me for my poor or lacking writing skills; I wish I could express myself in Singapore Sign Language (SgSL). Not many hearing people know SgSL. I’m accommodating myself to this mainstreamed society in Singapore, just for a little “pitch” for faith.

I wonder why Singapore couldn’t create grants specially designed for d/Deaf and Disabled artists who might be much affected by the Covid-19 situation. Possible to make the application process sweet, short and simple for us?

Many asked us to go try Very Special Arts Singapore. Why? We are often seen as a symbol of charity, just because of our disability. Sign Language is definitely not part of charity. You can’t treat it as your part of your “circus act” – song-signing!

I repeat, what is song-signing? Clearly, this is in support for ableism. Many hearing signers often transliterate words that are sung, into sign vocabulary. More of representing the English structure, without understanding the Deaf culture. Many people see this act by hearing signers, and they applaud their “lousy” signing unknowingly and blindly. Often associated with their “entertaining efforts in helping Deaf”. Are they sincere in “helping Deaf” just with their stupid song-signing?

“No, no! I just practice my signing skills with songs!”

“You should not create and publish those videos, just for your practice! You are entertaining in a WRONG way! You’re murdering the Deaf culture! Also, making the Deaf people divide! That’s not inclusivity that you promote for!”

Another example of culture appropriation in music is demonstrated in this link. Andy Dexterity adopted sign language in his performance for the Voice Australia 2020. What he did on television had angered the Deaf community in Australia. His intention was misled, with the words, “accessible” and “hear your favourite song” as he had failed to understand the heart of Deaf culture. Obviously, it is merely for his own gain – to become popular among his society!

I advocate for Deaf music, that has its continuum in interpreting music and songs in Deaf way. This form of art is led by the Deaf musicians (or music practitioners) around the world. They know their language, community and culture the best. Music has silence, music has noise, music has off-beat notes, music has sign language – self-expression in Deaf way… Deaf music is all about the art of making music in Deaf way. It is not necessarily beautiful, but also it could be ugly! Silent, but noisy. Rhythmatic, but off-beat…

900-Strong Singapore Virtual Choir sings Home (Dick Lee)

Last April, at a short notice, I was asked to participate in this project by Voices of Singapore. You can see me standing out with a green background, and I wear the black top. Anyway, I was delighted to be part of this initiative, and I could represent the Deaf community in Singapore. Also, this could be another platform to show the Deaf music to the public.

Stay At Home, Singapore (Kids’ Edition) | The Straits Times

Impressed by this video. My Deaf music is seen between 0.34 sec and 0.39 sec. Only for 5 seconds. With captions in English, you could feel it better, and it is including more hearing people to appreciate it that way.

Please do not compare me with other big-time musicians, such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Dame Evelyn Glennie. We have experienced deafness at a different time. Dame Evelyn became deaf at her age of 12, and Beethoven started having his hearing problems at around his age of 28. My deafness is discovered when I was two. Our musicality is different; we have acquired music at a different time, too. We have our different music journey.

Ken Kwek has come up with his story, “The Pitch” for three “giant” theatre companies, SRT, Pangdemonium, and WILD RICE. This evoked many thoughts and feelings from me, so I wrote them here as the Deaf art and music practitioner. I have neglected this art & passion of mine for some time, and due to the Covid-19 situation, I resorted to earning enough money from teaching sign language online – my only income source.

Covid-19 has impacted many of us in positive and negative ways. It has taught us many things about life. With making art, will we emerge to succeed better or go down like a good-for-nothing? Do we need collaborations for better support? What kind of collaborations? What will you see yourself in the next 3-5 years, including the toxic Covid-19 period?

We just need a little “pitch” for faith from you all. With this, we will become more resilient and adaptable.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.