“A House is not a Home…”

Reviewer: Jocelyn Chng
Performance: 13 August 2017

The concept of Open Homes is intrinsically heart-warming – people from various walks of life opening up their homes and sharing their personal stories with a select audience (interested audience members are required to register due to the limited space within each home). First produced as part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) in 2015, this series has returned to SIFA 2017 with 30 more doors being open to the public.

The idea of being invited to someone’s home carries a certain significance; in the urban, high-rise context of contemporary Singapore, visiting someone else’s home usually means that one is either family or one is considered a close friend.

In this ‘visit’, Lemons Lemonade, the host Laura Schuster imbues the idea of “home” with added layers of meaning. Having spent more of her life living outside of her country of birth, and having moved house various times within as well as across countries, the idea of what or where “home” is becomes complex and bittersweet. As she invites us in, she makes it a point to say that although this is not her home, it is where she currently lives, and we are nevertheless welcomed.

Once we are all gathered in her front hallway, or “Indonesian hall” as she calls it, Schuster wastes no time in diving into her story. One cannot doubt the remarkable nature of the personal story she shares – she reveals difficult episodes in her life such as going through a divorce and being diagnosed with breast cancer. Reminding the audience of the title of her session, she references the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” while serving us – no surprises there – lemonade.

Although this is ostensibly Shuster’s private space, there is something very theatrical about the space that makes this home (or house) an ideal site for a project like this. Each room in the house is impeccably curated/dressed – the front hall filled with traditional Indonesian crafts and decorations, the library filled with a truly impressive collection of plays and books on theatre/performance and movement, and her bedroom hidden behind a false wall, filled with the palpable sense of precious personal time.

Influenced by Shuster’s emphasis that this is not her real “home”, I am aware of being in a liminal space – transitional, not only for us, the audience, but also eventually for her. As the performance progresses, this liminality is heightened as the ideas of performance/performer and audience are themselves increasingly implicated into the nature of the experience. I leave slightly disoriented, and pondering the cliché that home is where the heart is. Because although she has taken pains to stress that this is not her “home”, it clearly still is a place of deep personal meaning.

And isn’t that what home is?

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LEMONS LEMONADE by Laura Schuster
13 August 2017
Laura Schuster’s Home


Jocelyn holds a double Masters in Theatre Studies/Research. She is a founding member of the Song and Dance (SoDa) Players – a registered musical theatre society in Singapore. She is currently building her portfolio career as an educator and practitioner in dance and theatre, while pursuing an MA in Education (Dance Teaching).