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Today: Two plays at upcoming M1 Singapore Fringe Festival exceed R18 rating: IMDA

Reena Devi (26th November 2016)

Two performances at next year’s M1 Singapore Fringe Festival will have to be changed or dropped after the Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) assessed that they contained excessive nudity.

In a statement on Friday (Nov 25), the IMDA said the two performances, Naked Ladies and Undressing Room, exceeded the R18 rating under the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC) due to “excessive nudity which included scenes of audience-participants stripping naked, and graphic depictions of exposed genitalia”.

A statement from the festival team said they were “extremely disappointed” by IMDA’s decision, adding: “Both works do indeed feature nudity, but nudity was not in any way used for the purpose of titillation. Rather, these are intelligent and well-crafted pieces exploring issues of vulnerability and identity.

“We are disappointed that they fall beyond the current guidelines, and that they are assessed for strictly nudity than what the purpose of nudity was for the works.”

It is understood that the IMDA is open to reassessing its decision if the festival chooses to revise the performances. The festival team said it would wait to hear from the artists involved in the performances, both of which were submitted by festival organiser The Necessary Stage.

The 13th edition of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival is due to run from January 4 to 15 next year. Prior to Friday’s development, the upcoming festival had already drawn online protests for the sexual and LGBT themes in its upcoming performances.

Naked Ladies and Undressing Room were singled out for criticisms in a Facebook post by a group called Singaporeans Defending Family and Marriage. The post questioned whether the festival was trying to pass off pornography as art.

Undressing Room, by Singapore dancer Ming Poon, is a one-to-one performance between the artist and a participant who will be challenged to bare all in a private space.

Naked Ladies is a performance lecture about the history of the naked female body by Canadian artist and academic Thea Fitz-James. She undresses during the performance and will be naked for large parts of the show.

Well-known figures in the local arts scene, including director Ong Keng Sen and award winning actor Lim Yu-Beng, have defended the performances and the Fringe Festival online.