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Undressing Room

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Participant 11: Kenneth Chia
(Completed on 3rd April 2017, Singapore)

1) Why do you choose to reveal your identity in this documentation?
I have nothing to hide and value being a part of this production – there is no reason to conceal my identity. I want people to know that the documentation is given by real people/participants, it reflects beliefs and perspectives that are important to me.

2) What were your thoughts and feelings when you first read about Undressing Room?
I was really excited to be a part of the work. It was a concept that I had not encountered in theatre/performance locally and I wanted to be a part of it. Many of my friends who were talking about the work were too shy to sign up, so that increased my curiosity toward the work in the initial stages. 

The idea of removing our clothes and confronting the stigma of baring our skin to others was always something I felt was worth exploring through performance – we often do it in various circumstances in our own lives but framing it through a meditative/restorative lens is a powerful reminder of the barriers we put on ourselves. There is great liberation in being bare skinned, and I was interested in the insight to be gained from an intimate exchange with an artist.

3) Describe your experience of Undressing Room.
(see next question)

4) What was it like for you, being a participant in Undressing Room?
I will answer question 3 and 4 together. I think the whole journey through the work was a transition of emotional states. I was running late from a previous audition and experiencing the work really helped to recenter my mind and body. It was very peaceful.

I was trying to focus my mind and body on being a calm presence – I felt that being in a calm state would prime me best to receive the work in its entirety. And also to be present. Once I was able to do that, I was able to appreciate the silence and the process of undressing each other… from the details on each other’s clothes to sensing each other’s bodies.

I’d say the silence was the most challenging part. It was also the aspect of the performance which significantly influenced the work. I’m not very accustomed to silence in my daily life and having to work intimately within those circumstances required a lot of concentration on my part.

5) How was it for you to undress each other and touch each other’s naked skin?
It was a pretty comfortable experience – I think many people have a fear of being naked because it connotes vulnerability, let alone in the presence of a stranger – but I’ve long gotten over that fear. That openness on each others’ part helped avoid any awkwardness on our parts. I think it was also refreshing to engage with another naked body without the common expectation of sexual activity as a follow up. We are at our most vulnerable and most powerful when naked, I feel.

There was some arousal, initially. To be present is to let ourselves be open to that possibility – after all, it is a biological function that we cannot completely control. And I think that’s also quite beautiful… to say ok, I do not have control over some aspects of the spontaneous interaction and thats completely fine. Past that stage, the time shared was tender and kept me very grounded in the moment. Exploring a new body is always very fascinating and I don’t see why we should be ashamed/shun it. In fact I think if everybody spent more time engaging in such a manner, we would feel and treat each other better.

6) What did you get out from the whole experience? 
I was really calm and happy after the performance – I had a long day ahead after finishing Undressing Room yet there was a general feeling of lightness and positivity that could not be dampened. It was a wonderful experience. It magnified and exceeded my expectations. 

It’s a great reminder of the power we have to express ourselves and understand each other if we shed inhibitions. I think it will always be a memory to return to/ re-experience in moments where I might fear being vulnerable or cling too tightly to inhibitions; a memory that would help centre myself.

7) Did you feel unsafe or threatened at any point in Undressing Room?
Nope. The performance was framed very clearly and therefore allowed me to work freely within the parameters together with Ming.

8) Would you participate in Undressing Room again?
Yes! Bring it back, adapt it as a regular session where people can practice and encounter different bodies and learn more about themselves and those around them.

9) Other comments.
None