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News From:The Straits Timesposted on 11 March at 4:00 PM
11 March at 4:00 PM

Sexy theatre production Venus In Fur makes its Asian premiere in Singapore

By Corrie Tan

Theatre director Ed Iskandar, 31, has his mind made up - Asian folks are an inherently masochistic bunch. And not just in the bedroom.

Iskandar, who was born in Indonesia and is based in the United States, declares: "We're hysterically masochistic people. More so than any other culture in the world."

He adds over the telephone from New York: "I mean, the number of times I've seen people torn up over a bad grade, or over not getting what needed to get done that day - it's crazy what we expect ourselves to be able to do and it's a virtue that's celebrated within so many Asian cultures."

And it is one reason he feels the Singapore audience will enjoy a play that deals with just that: American playwright David Ives' sultry Venus In Fur (2010).

Iskandar is directing this intense two-person play, which opens this Friday at the DBS Arts Centre, presented by the Singapore Repertory Theatre. It was inspired by 19th-century Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novella Venus In Fur (1870), from whose name the term "masochism" was derived.

In Ives' play, the actress Vanda shows up to audition for a role in playwright Thomas' adaptation of the erotic novel Venus In Fur. Late and rain-soaked, her arrival incites a sexually-charged power struggle that straddles the play and the play within the play.

Vanda will be played by American actress Steffanie Leigh, 25, and Thomas, by American actor Anson Mount, 40.

Ironically enough, Leigh is coming to this work fresh from starring as the goody-two-shoes nanny Mary Poppins on Broadway. She says, in a separate telephone interview, that this vast change of character has been "so much fun".

For more, read Life! tomorrow.

corriet@sph.com.sg

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