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Daily Archives: June 15, 2007

King Lear to keep clothes on in Singapore

King Lear will keep his clothes on in Singapore.
When the Royal Shakespeare Company's production makes a three-night stop in Singapore in July, British actor Ian McKellen, as Lear, will not remove all his clothes during a scene in which the king is forced into exile, Gaurav Kripalani, artistic director of the Singapore Repertory Theatre, said yesterday. The scene has been performed nude at Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of the playwright William Shakespeare, Kripalani said, and could have been repeated in Singapore with an R18 rating. R18 restricts the performance to those over 18.
But with more than 1,000 students booked to attend the Singapore performances, Kripalani said the Singapore theatre asked the Royal Shakespeare Company if McKellen could cover up.
They said "it's far more important to them that we're not turning kids away," said Kripalani, whose theatre is presenting the play in conjunction with Esplanade Theatres on the Bay.
"I don't think it's going to lessen the experience in the slightest," he told AFP.
Kripalani said the decision had nothing to do with censorship, and he has had no discussions with authorities on the matter.
"If they do it here they just require an R18 rating, which is fine," he said.
Kripalani said the Lear performances, from July 19-21, were 90 percent sold out.
Singapore is the only Asian stop in the Royal Shakespeare Company's world tour, the local theatre said.
Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's second minister for information, communications and the arts, said recently that the city-state was undergoing liberalisation but retained a very strong conservative core.
At the Singapore International Film Festival in April, two films were withdrawn from screening after censors made cuts. The festival said scenes depicting homosexual and group sex were removed from one film, while another involved a scene of a woman in a nun's habit in a sexually suggestive pose.

Malaysian actress berated by muftis for going bald

An award-winning Malaysian actress who shaved her head for a film role has attracted criticism from influential muftis who say her act is unIslamic and sinful, a report said yesterday.
Sharifah Amani Syed Zainal Rashid, 21, drew widespread shock and interest after she went bald Tuesday, with photos of her splashed across the front pages of Malay-language newspapers a day later.
But muftis in the conservative Muslim country have called on authorities to issue guidelines to prevent Malay Muslim artistes, especially actresses, from extreme behaviour or dressing, the New Straits Times reported.
"Unlike Muslim men, going bald for women is forbidden in Islam. It is sinful for men to act or behave like a woman and vice versa," the mufti of central Selangor state, Mohamad Tamyis Abdul Majid was quoted as saying.
The mufti of northern Perak state, Harussani Idris, said Muslim artistes were becoming increasingly daring and warned them against being influenced by the actions of their foreign counterparts.
"As Muslims, we should not sacrifice our religion for the sake of wanting to be popular," Harussani was quoted as saying.
"I have been observing that nowadays our artistes are becoming too open and daring, either in their actions or attire," he said.
"It is only appropriate for the relevant authorities such as the information ministry to introduce regulations to make them toe the line."
A well-known actress, Sharifah Amani is featured in current perfume advertisements with her trademark long, straight hair.
She shaved her head for a role in a movie by critically-acclaimed Malaysian independent filmmaker, Yasmin Ahmad.
Yasmin's first and best known film, "Sepet", broke social taboos by depicting an inter-racial romance between a Muslim Malay girl, also played by Sharifah Amani, and a Chinese boy.
The film was attacked by film industry leaders, who said the movie threatened Malay Muslim culture and could corrupt Muslim audiences.
Commenting on her decision to go bald, Sharifah Amani was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times Wednesday: "I have no regrets. My hair will grow back."