The Lunar Interviews is a series of seven monologues in which moon goddesses Chang Er, Diana, and Hina – from Chinese, Roman, and Polynesian mythologies respectively – recount tales of both divine creation and mundane loneliness. The stories touch on themes of creativity, motherhood, and relationships.
Singaporean playwright Verena Tay wrote The Lunar Interviews in October 2007 while she was attending the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, USA. The play was staged the following year on 23 and 24 August as the last in a set of four plays about women by female playwrights called Blood Binds at W!ld Rice’s OCBC Singapore Theatre Festival. It was presented by Magdalena (Singapore) and The Substation, and starred Renee Chua, Elizabeth Gott, and Fanny Kee.
The Lunar Interviews was generally well received.
Reviewing for The Flying Inkpot, Ng Yi-Sheng commended the play’s poeticism, calling it “modulated, delicious and intense”.
I’m quite a fan of the last play of the set, however. Verena Tay’s The Lunar Interviews (3.5 out of 5) goes beyond its tired premise of presenting voices of various goddesses of the moon and instead becomes an extended poetic essay on the relationship between women and language. My favourite of the play’s seven segments has to be the first, where the three actresses describe the difficult process of textual creation using the dense, visceral imagery of childbirth. I’m also appreciative of the stories of everyday women who talk too much or too little, sandwiching the stories of the goddesses, cementing the lot into a modulated whole that transcended expectations.Four Her by Ng Yi-Sheng. In The Flying Inkpot (Aug 2008), http://inkpotreviews.com/2008reviews/0821,bloo,ny.xml
Straits Times critic Tara Tan similarly enjoyed Tay’s text, but not so much the production.
Tay’s painstakingly chosen words in an abstract prose had lines such as ‘inseminated into my mind, ideas swim freely in the blood-rich milieu and compete to enter the seed of my imagination’.
The staging, with the three performers Renee Chua, Elizabeth Gott and Fanny Kee flapping and waving long, white shawls with words printed on them, did not help. The flurry of action detracted from the complex, poetic prose.Family ties re-examined by Tara Tan. In The Straits Times (25 Aug 2008).
- The Lunar Interviews can be found in the anthology In the Company of Heroes, published by Math Paper Press in 2011.
- The programme and brochure from Blood Binds can be viewed in The Repository.
The Vault: Becoming Mother is the third and final presentation in a series dedicated to exploring dance and Singapore play-text. Grounded in their dance practices of bharata natyam and ballet respectively, Shanthini and Jocelyn respond to themes of creation and creativity in the dramatic writings of playwrights Verena Tay, Ovidia Yu and Chong Tze Chien. Find out more here.