Review of festival author Alfian Sa’at’s play HOTEL: “Even beyond SG50, our history textbooks are pretty whitewashed: we’re taught that the British were benevolent colonists, that our ancestors were hardworking immigrants, that the races were segregated to their own separate kampungs until the PAP brought them together in harmony, and that the principal heroes of our narratives are Chinese men. Even the National Heritage Board doesn’t dare to admit that Bugis Street was a transgender red-light district.
This isn’t just censorship. Effectively, it’s brain damage: a calculated attempt to rewrite our minds. But Hotel is therapy. It brings back the past—not in a teacherly way, but in the fashion of a loved one coming to us with a photo album and filling in our forgotten names and faces, joining up the dots of our family trees. We’re overwhelmed by a sense of recognition: remembering what we once knew.”