Thick Beats for Good Girls
Five years ago, I was sent on a Singaporean theatre residency, supported by Playwriting Australia, AustCham Singapore and Grey Projects Tiong Bahru. On that residency, the producer and Smart Guy Dan Prichard insisted I meet fellow artist Pooja Nansi to talk about life, poetry and more. We immediately clicked and realised we needed to write a work together. We sat down at a cafe and wrote a list about the things we wanted to explore. The item on the list that excited us most was “hip hop music”.
Since 2013, this work has steamed along, developed and been nurtured by the addition of Huzir Sulaiman and Checkpoint Theatre. In 2017, Checkpoint brought us all into a room for a fortnight to do an intensive creative development. And finally, in March and April this year, we rehearsed and produced the show.
This experience has been joyous, challenging and monumental. But instead of telling you anymore, I’ll share some reviews and testimonials:
“Thick Beats For Good Girls” shines a light on our loneliness, and how to resist it; how to fight the quiet moments when we are alone in our bedrooms feeling as if no one understands us, when the only thing in the world that makes sense are free-associative suckerpunch rhymes bursting from small speakers. Huzir Sulaiman has pulled together a production that is admirably restrained and low-key, putting the writing front and centre. Come and have your hearts broken in painful familiar ways. And then we’ll drink to that together.
Thick Beats for Good Girls runs for another two weeks and you have to make time to watch this very compelling work. The collaboration amongst Pooja Nansi, Jessica Bellamy and Huzir Sulaiman is as electrifying as it is soul-touching. Thank you, for capturing the flow, the ferocity, the awkwardness and conflicted-ness of being a good girl who likes listening to hip hop, who feels the beat in her fumbling uncoordinated limbs while awkwardly pushing up her glasses but also wants to think about it. I feel so heard and seen, and recognised that it is even more important that women – my sisters – of other colours, religion, social status, and sexual identities had space to be heard and seen, front and centre, vulnerable and strong, charming and unapologetic. That toggle between the intellectual and the visceral, with no neat categories or tidy answers, and the realisation that really, expanding our definitions of good and enjoyment will heal the human spirit. It unsettled me, even in its form as a very talky play, which for me strengthened the belief that we have to consciously make room for women to be unpolished and acknowledged as they are, not for theatrical and everyday audiences. To reference a line from the actress-writers – is your feminism wide enough to encompass us? I am co-teaching a class on feminist theories in counselling in three weeks and all I really want, at this moment, is to list this production as a compulsory presribed reading/viewing for class. Don’t miss out on this show that will have your feet tapping, blood singing and head whirling.
Watched “Thick Beats for Good Girls” by Checkpoint Theatre. I never really considered myself a good girl, I was at best, pretty lukewarm. I was one of the “reggaeton minahs” Pooja Nansi mentioned and still proudly am. But I never thought I could tear up thinking about clubbing, and the Dbl-O, the Zirca, the MOS days. But I am as good a girl as anyone, and no one is ever going to tell me otherwise. No one is going to rewrite me if I don’t let them. And so thank you for that Pooja, Jessica Bellamy, especially for your moving honesty, Huzir Sulaiman and the Checkpoint team. And now for me to ride past Mohamed Sultan Road and Queen Street on my way home to remind current me of that fearless, bleached-blonde, tube-top-wearing, dance-without-a-care, living-on-2-hours-of-sleep-eve
ryday 21-year-old me.