SMALL TALK 话家常

Drama workshops with seniors
First commissioned by PAssionARTS

We always hear of older folks who can speak a smattering of other languages. They may not be experts in those languages, but they can always make small talk with friends of other races or dialects.

In this 8-session workshop, a group of 14 elderly neighbours living at Hougang Avenue 3 gathered every week to share their stories from days past. Between 51 years old to 80 years old, the senior participants may not all speak the same language, but through the workshops, they managed to uncover stories of their lives in the neighbourhood, finding a common language of memory, through the colourful tapestry of small talk.

我们总认识几个除了自己的母语以外,还会讲很多种方言,英语,甚至马来语,印度语的人。他们不算精通,但至少可以跟长者与左邻右舍亲切地话家常。如今,母语、方言已经很少人会说了,祖辈的很多故事是否也会随之消失?

你认为“家”在哪里? 对居住在后港3道的十几位老居民而言,家是养鸡养鸭,上山挑水,跟弟妹抢东西吃,看五毛钱一出戏的地方。在剧场导演韩雪卿的引导与构思下,她们穿越时空,用潮州话、马来话一起回忆儿时精彩的趣事,闲话家常。来跟我们一起话家常吧!


“It is a privilege for me, at 80 years old still has a chance to go up stage and hold a microphone. All these years in my life, I do not have a chance to do so.”Toh Kim Hong

“…Ms Jalyn Han listened to our kampong stories, she choreographed and turned it into a small talk performance. She patiently taught us how to overcome forgetfulness, be natural, presentation skills and we also enjoyed ourselves thoroughly…” – Irene Soon

“The performance at Kovan Hub and Kallang CC has given me confidence, joy and a victorious spirit. The sharing of the era between 1950s to 1960s has indeed given our younger generation an understanding of what is it like at that time…” – Lee Theng Inn

“My granddaughter is very proud that I, almost 80 years old have the opportunity to perform despite being wheelchair bound.” – Tan Tnar Chuan (po-zua auntie)

*Quotes has been translated to English

文:傅容慧

在时间的长河里60年不算什么。可是在我生长的土地里,意义是何其重大。就在这半个世纪里,一个语言可以消失,好像不曾存在过一样。我的父母会讲福建话,华语,马来语,英语,还有其他籍贯的方言。除华语之外不算精通,但至少足以用来话家常。而这看似在寻常不过的”话家常”,却因为语言的生疏而变得不自然,甚至困难。我方言讲得四不像,虽然有很多问题想问这几位活宝,却难免因为语言问题而却步,也无法好好了解她们的分享内容。

庭音阿姨说,她孙子都不会讲华语,只讲英语,其父母还花钱送他们上华语补习班,结果两个星期后只会说一句:王老师,晚上好!

当时我们都笑了,可是我回想起这个故事,只觉得心里一阵酸。华语是最贴近我心灵的语言,想不到下一代的华人已经开始不会说了。祖辈的很多故事也都会随之消失,我们是否会在60年后完全丧失身份,不知道自己是谁?与其花钱上补习班,做父母的不如以身作则,用华语跟孩子沟通?

众阿姨们异口同声说:以前看到5分钱就会捡,积少成多!如今的5分,没人稀罕,除非是分数的”分”!5分就买得到八片 ‘马利’饼,给现在的小孩他都不吃。因他有冰淇淋,汉堡,炸鸡可选。不像先辈们,根本没有选择。我们活在一个选择太多,多得令人窒息的年代,阿姨们则活在一个没有选择的年代, 所以她们容易满足。我们虽然拥有很多,却总是想要更好的,更贵的。一出世就面临这么多选择,从不知道什么叫做”苦”-如果不去聆听阿姨们的故事,我也不会去想这么多。也许,我们的苦,是因为无法满足自己的欲望而造成的。

五嫂育有二男六女,在物资匮乏的年代还可以这么”多产”,现代人称之为”勇敢”。我也到了成家的年龄,26岁结婚,在同辈间算早的了,半个世纪前这叫晚婚。自己都还是个大孩子,无法想象自己也生8个孩子!现今的生活费也不是’省吃俭用’就能凑合的。就算养得起,我质疑自己教育孩子的能力,所以真的不敢’乱来’。 也许,我是想太多了。想必五嫂年轻时也没想那么多,经媒妁之言嫁人,能生就生,八个孩子靠天养,没想到一晃眼,就过了60年,孩子自有成就,她也已是个满脸皱纹,每周都要染白发的老人了。

《话家常》是2013年百盛艺术节的项目之一,笔者为此项目的制作助理。