Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Exclusive rehearsal pictures: Three women, one voice


Two things confirmed my worst suspicions recently – first, an off-the-cuff remark by a new friend formerly based in Chicago that Americans wouldn’t understand what “Ah Kua” means. Second, an article in today’s Business Times about Fred Deluca’s business name change. Fred DeLuca is the man behind the wildly popular Subway sandwich chain. Years ago, when they had only one or two outlets, Mr DeLuca opened his first shop called Pete’s Super Submarine Sandwiches and he said:

”From there I just basically learnt the business one day at a time and of course made lots and lots of mistakes.” One of the mistakes was the name given to his shop.

Mr DeLuca said:

“We changed the name after about three stores. The reason was, when people used to ask me where I work I used to say ‘Pete’s Submarine’. Then they would ask ‘Oh, what kind of pizzas do you sell?’

“At first I wouldn’t understand why they were asking me that. But after a few times I realised they were hearing ‘Pizzas Submarines’ instead of ‘Pete’s Submarine’. It was then we decided to change the name to Subway.”

It’s too late for me to change the name of my show to “The Ladyboy Show”, but that’s essentially what Ah Kua – a derogatory term to transgender women – means. This mistake would cost me lots of theatre-goers who do not read beyond the title and who would not want to watch a show about Asian water (which is presumably what they think Ah Kua means), but I’ve to stop thinking like a disempowered Southeast Asian transgender woman. I’ve to stop slipping into character.

The point is, the choice of title for my maiden show in Singapore was brilliant. Ah Kua is a derogatory term capable of stirring a nation’s imagination, in Singapore and Malaysia at least. But the choice of Ah Kua for the US market is stupid, and being a PR consultant, I ought to fire myself. However, as my own boss, I can’t do that. Like DeLuca, I can only own up to my mistake, change whatever I can, and move on.

So here it is: Ah Kua Show is really Ladyboy Show.


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