We learn to play

My friend and I went to catch a play called ” Note for Note #skintones”. It was held at The Arts House (Old Parliament House) on 23rd June 2018. The price of the ticket is $10.


The three pairs that are performing are Singapore Literature Prize-winning poet
Joshua Ip with cellist and electronic musician Vick Low, award-winning slam
poet Stephanie Dogfoot with singer-songwriter Zee Aura, and Australian
spoken word artist Will Beale with punk musician Hafiz Bastard.

Note for Note is a private conversation between the poet and musician. This play is to show that poetry and kinds of music are able to collaborate. This edition’s theme #skintones invites us to look at life differently. How one poet’s muse is another’s madness. How a musician can find harmony in discord.

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The first performers are Joshua Ip and Vick Low. Vick Low plays the cello while Joshua Ip recites the poem.

The first poem was about how everyone should comfortable with who they are and not fake who they are.

 “it takes a bit more to fit in, to grit your teeth and admit to your own skin.”

This tells us that it is easier to be yourself then faking to another person that society likes. Other people shouldn’t be the one telling you who you are as they don’t know you better than you know yourself.

“This is the thin red line between comfort and swagger. Don’t get too comfortable in your own skin.”

He also said that one shouldn’t be always in their comfort zone and that they should leave their comfort zone now and then see the world from a different perspective. Sometimes when one gets too comfortable, they might get too arrogant.

The second poem tells us about how a boy is trying to an adult. He uses a tree to represent the boy when the boy is just a seedling.

“I am a tree, dreaming I am a boy trying to be a tree.”

“I am a boy dreaming of becoming a man and it is nightmare that I am also an old tree.”

“As of all things, the most difficult part is growing up or growing out of this.”

It says that a boy dreaming to be a man but it is a nightmare of being old. This relates to me a lot as when I was young, I always dream of being a working adult so that I wouldn’t have to deal with any homework. However, when I thought about it carefully I actually didn’t want to grow old so fast as I didn’t want to leave the world so soon. There are so many things in the world that I have yet to appreciate thus growing up slowly isn’t a bad thing.

The third poem talks about relationships

“Because you are a planet and I am a planet. If very person is a circle then every relationship is a venn diagramm. Some people occupy only their own center and others expand to fill their uncircumscribed space with their air and atmosphere and yet other choose to orbit their own emptyness.”

He talks about how some people are in a relationship. Some only care about themselves, some tries to makes the surroundings better and some just are void itself.


“If you are a planet and I am a point.”

“Whats the point of this pronunciation. You are so far away I have to make an appointment for your life. By the time reaches, it’s always a disappointment.”

The poet did talk about long-distance relationships which could either be with his friends or his partner. It says that people living in another country pronounce things differently and do things differently. And whenever you try to meet up with them, your timing and theirs seems to always clash due to the difference in time zone.




The second performers are Stephaine Dogfoot and Zee Aura. Zee Aura plays the piano and she also makes the background sound effect when Stephaine Dogfoot recites the poems. She has a chopping board, knife and a carrot to cut and even pots and it’s cover to create sound effects.

The first poem is about how one’s life is delicate.

“To remind me that I to is vulunerable to fire, to water, to heat, because I too can burn and leave. Because i too is just made of meat.”

She compares herself with an animal life.  She talks about how animals can be slaughtered so easily just for food. The animals don’t know it is their turn to get slaughtered, just like how we don’t know when our time on earth is ending. Our life can actually end very easily just like any animal.

The second poem.

“When I tell you that if we got married the border agency will presume that if it just to get my citizenship… See I never wanted to marry you, I just wanted your secret formula for immortality.” 

“And you would always say Janis Joplin will still be around if she has got into acids instead of heroin n whiskey… But, maybe the truth is we all have different defination of immortaility.”

Immortality meanings (dictionary.com) :

  • the ability to live forever; eternal life.
  • the quality of deserving to be remembered for a long time; timelessness.


This poem is pretty hard for me to understand. My perspective for this poem is that she was dating her partner just to know what was the secret formula for being able to live forever. But to her partner, the definition of immortality means the quality to be remembered for a long time. There are many celebrities who died from overdoses of heroin and whiskey but there aren’t any celebrities who died from taking in acids.

The third poem tells us about moving on from the past relationships.

“They flew to places that Wendy has only see in fairytail, cartoons, national geographic. Soar over the cities n laugh at the traffic. Fought dragons and pirates and road giants and fishes.”

It says about how Peter would bring Wendy for many adventures and bring her to many places that she dreamt of going. Unfortunately, Peter got into trouble with the police and ended up moving away. He became a new person and ended up getting married to someone else.

“So wendy slips this new girl a half tab on the bus…”

“But wendy knows that peter legacy is also a curse. So pray for herself to this one to be different by which wendy means nearly as nearly as good as the first.”

This says that she knows that her past relationship was a curse because no other relationship could be better than Peter and hers. So she tries to make her current one be better than the previous and hope that it would last unlike Peter and hers. I feel like one shouldn’t compare their present relationship with the past relationship. As you can really force the present relationship to be better but you can be a better person in your present relationship compared to how you were in the past.


The third poem talks about how she couldn’t cook but managed to succeed in the end.

“I lied on my application tht I knew my way around the kitchen, around fire.”

” That smell that make roommate stop in the door way and sniff the air while shaking off coats and gloves and throwing their hands over the fire. Eyes widening  combination of confusion, anticpiaton of whatever the hell that is.”

She basically fakes it till she makes it as she couldn’t really cook but she decided to just briefly follow the recipes. However, the outcome of the dish was surprisingly good even though they don’t know what food was it. With a positive mindset and perseverance, one can actually succeed in doing whatever they want.



The third performers are Will Beale and Hafiz Bastard. Hafiz Bastard plays the electronic guitar.

The first part of the poem talks about how one should not bottle up everything to themselves.

“Now open up everyone you know. Opening up into the night evacuating all inside spilling secrets into the streets, void decks. Now open up tell me how that feels to miss everyone that u wants to forget to capture the barriers. A family story that no one photograph like how 5am sings the perfect harmony.”

When you keep everything to yourself, it might harm you in a long run. Sometimes it is better to share your thoughts, ideas and your feelings to someone that you are close to. You may feel like it is a burden to share your thoughts with anyone but it really lifts rocks over your shoulders after sharing. Your friends or family might even be able to help you with what you are going through and give you moral support.

“In these waves of brain made memory foam, you remember everything, everything about yourself that you try to drown.”

There are some things that you don’t like about that you try to forget about it but it just keeps coming back. You should find time to understand what you don’t like about it and kind of appreciate it so that you will be able to move on from it.

He also talks about how he felt when he first moved to Singapore at an age of 11 years old.

He told us that when he first moved to Singapore and got into a new school, he suffered from anxiety as he doesn’t know much about Singapore and everything here was new to him.

“Anxiety calls, fear grips and we wish panic has a snooze botten. I pressed it and I stopped talking for weeks.”

He dropped out of school within 3 months and ended up not wanting to talk for 6 months. He ended giving up on trying to get better.

At the age of 26, he moves back to Singapore. Sunrise was still hard for him so he didn’t wake up before 9am. His the cuts from 11 years old are still too fresh.

“My therapist shows how a healthy relationship looks like 2 sun kissing. She shows me what my relationship looks like now, an eclipse and a sun going down swinging.”

His relationship with anxiety was actually dragging him down and it “enables” him from seeing the good things in his life. His anxiety took what he could so he decided to say enough. From that day onwards, he slowly falls in love with sunrise, dancing all night to catch every sunrise. This is when he started appreciating every morning and every new day.


Poems can be seen from many perspectives, thus everyone explanation of the poem will be different. Sometimes, we just have to take a little more time to read in between the lines to really understand what does it mean. Therefore, we shouldn’t rush and judge things too fast but we should take our time to see it from another perspective.


Immortality. [online] Available from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/immortality [Accessed July 15, 2018]


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