This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls
Sex. Violence. Blurred lines.
An undergrad and a lecturer begin a precarious flirtation. Two workmates go on a date that each remembers very differently. A long lost bogeyman returns to draw new blood from old scars.
Eight bodies collide. Eight souls crisscross. Eight lives get entangled in a web of pain, shame and heartbreak. And the world as they each know it will never be the same again.
Millions around the world are being pulled into the #MeToo minefield and the Time’s Up tsunami. This is a redefining period in our history, with numerous victims of sexual assault and harassment finding their voices as survivors and warriors.
Then there are the many, many voices that are never heard, stories never told, secrets never shared, truths never revealed.
Pangdemonium’s world premiere of THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO PRETTY GIRLS is one such story, with many sides, many secrets, and many truths, each one demanding to be told; a story of women and men who have not been liberated by the sea change; whose lives perch on the knife edge between damnation and deliverance.
Playwright Ken Kwek (award-winning director of Unlucky Plaza) has conducted over 100 interviews, and drawn from true-life stories of sexual trauma and survival, to create a provocative, poignant and powerful piece of theatre for our times.
Kwek says: “This play is partly a journey of my own reckoning with the #MeToo movement. I see this as being as much a men’s issue – if not more so – as it is a women’s issue.”
In this new dawn of gender equality and empowerment that is galvanizing our society, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO PRETTY GIRLS is an explosive and timely theatrical event that will pull apart preconceptions, confound conspiracy theories, and challenge you to question yourself and the people you think you know. Especially those who believe that “this is what happens to pretty girls”.
You have been warned.
“Kwek crafts a nuanced story that offers no easy answers. Tackling a complex whirlpool of factors such as unequal power dynamics and implied consent, he creates characters that are utterly relatable and almost painful to watch. Indeed, the play and its many shades of grey make for difficult viewing. One is unable to escape the weight of the discomfort and the unresolved, open-ended nature of these stories offer little consolation.
Director Tracie Pang has assembled a stellar cast of eight actors who deliver honest, heart-wrenching performances. Newcomer Tess Pang makes an arresting stage debut as a spunky millennial who makes a controversial allegation. There are equally strong turns by Oon Shu An as a woman trying to navigate a complex relationship, Serene Chen as an intermediary placed in an invidious position and Adrian Pang as a potty-mouthed man-child with a dark secret. Set designer and frequent collaborator Eucien Chia cleverly incorporates aspects of topography and the human anatomy into his set, alluding to the blatant bodily objectification and murky contours that dominate conversations about sex. James Tan and Genevieve Peck's sensuous lighting and Jing Ng's disconcerting soundscapes round out the emotionally charged atmosphere.
Pretty Girls is a timely reminder of the dangers of sexual misconduct and the importance of awareness to mitigate these issues. It would be wishful thinking to assume that these matters would disappear overnight but through understanding, we can play our part to shape attitudes, reframe the narrative and treat each other with the respect we all deserve”
“It is raw, powerful stuff - one that will leave audiences shaken. Provocation is central to the issues that the play, directed by Tracie Pang, wants to tackle: consent, sexual misconduct, victim-blaming, and toxic masculinity. It is less concerned with blunt finger-pointing and more with blurred lines. The characters are well-realised and relatable - both victims and perpetrators alike.
This is the most ambitious part of Pangdemonium’s project: the paradigm shift needed to demonstrate that people who commit or enable sexual harassment and assault are not always exceptional or monstrous. This too, the play tries to grapple with: What should happen in the aftermath of such harm? How should apologies be delivered, retribution pursued? This is What Happens to Pretty Girls is a sobering look at ways in which today’s culture continues to fail victims and create aggressors.
It should provoke audiences to ask themselves some hard questions of their own.”
“Unabashedly bold and brutally honest, provocative and polarizing, the play is a damning indictment against the notion in the title – it shows that sexual assault can happen to anyone. What Happens To Pretty Girls makes itself stand out from the other plays as it addresses the issue of sexual harassment in a rather uncommon manner. While the play drew inspiration from the #MeToo movement, it is actually not about the movement itself.
The play dissects the #MeToo movement and delves more into the grey areas and blurred lines instead – situations with no easy answers are addressed through the stories of our three victims. Overall, This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls is a riveting play that will leave you questioning yourself and the people you know, and reinvent your perception towards sexual assault.”
“Directed by Tracie Pang, This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls does a bang-up job of capturing the complexities of sexual harassment. Rather than a one-dimensional narrative about the oppression of women, it offers a multi-layered peek into the individual experiences of its eight diverse characters, each with their own story to tell.
The play peels back the layers of each character, revealing a nuanced presentation of the innumerable issues and scenarios tied to sexual misconduct and gender inequality. It grapples with the painful realities of life, many of which hit so close to home that certain dialogues sound like actual conversations you’ve heard. Everything feels familiar, yet nothing is sure. The script offers no straightforward answers or easy resolutions. Neither are there clear distinctions between who’s good and bad.”
“Pangdemonium boldly brings to the fore the contentious subject of sexual misconduct in This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls, a breath of fresh air in a climate of technology-enhanced activism, where third-party bystanders swiftly dole out blame and impose victim/perpetrator binaries. The piece focuses on the grey areas inherent in some cases of sexual misconduct, delivering a couple of uncomfortably visceral moments with sufficient nuance. It is here where the play makes its most salient point – witnessing all sides of a story unfold concurrently through an unbiased lens does not make it any easier to hold one party fully accountable for violated boundaries.The multifaceted nature of the parties involved in each developing scenario is also explored.
Confounding character traits and histories surface throughout the play, disrupting an easy mapping of stereotypes onto characters based on gender or power-play within situations. Exposing a character’s inner vulnerability and desperation for clarity and repentance humanises them, without negating the severity of their offending action.
The strength in This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls is thus in its ability to offer us what the real world cannot – time and space to thoroughly review a matter through multiple lenses and perspectives, and the realisation that some cases of sexual misconduct and the labels we attach to those involved are perhaps more layered and complex than they may seem.”
Oon Shu An
Paul Courtenay Hyu
Advisory 16 (Sexual Scenes and Coarse Language)
No one age 15 or below
will be allowed entry.
Drama Centre Theatre
10 – 26 May 2019
Power To The People
“This play is heart-wrenching, thought-provoking and talks about day-to-day situations that affect all of us. It will leave you with many impactful thoughts. Let’s create a society where we can have meaningful conversations and finally talk about all the greys. We can all make the greys less grey.
Thank you Ken Kwek and Pangdemonium for being our voice, and for allowing me to find peace.”
“Hit me like a ton of bricks. This play is urgent, harrowing, and somehow both unexpected and totally expected.
This is required watching.”
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for injecting life into this play and making it possible. Thank you. This is What Happens to Pretty Girls was an absolute stunner. A stellar cast with the delivery try of an invigoratingly smashing and provocative performance. All the cast were absolutely amazing.
Thank you Pangdemonium for constantly provoking audiences and inciting important conversations that have been neglected for far too long in our society. I, as a graduating Criminology student, struggle at times to engage in these conversations with people around me, and the impact is often minimal. People do shun these perspectives. What Pangdemonium is doing is absolutely imperative, and the impact of your plays are positively pandemic, like an influenza everyone should catch.
Please keep up the fantastic work!”
“World class, unrestrained, painful, true, breathtaking. Theatre at its best, as theatre is supposed to be.
Thank you Pangdemonium.”
“This was an extremely painful but necessary pill to swallow. It is haunting, brutally honest, and hear-wrenching. It made me reflect on me own actions and it was painful to face my own former demons, but it is so, so vital.
I laughed, l cried, I shook in horror and remorse, but most importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson.”
“Wow. Pangdemonium. This has got to be one of the most traumatising plays I have ever watched. Watching this and then reading the programme made me realise how much we have [not] progressed as a society, and how much more work we need to do to ensure the safety of all genders.
Words cannot describe how disturbed I was during this play, and how sad I was, living as a male and seeing all of this unravel in front of me, wondering how this could possibly happen to anyone, male or female.
But also, I am hopeful that with more proper open civil discussions, we will get better. We MUST get better. Thank you Pangdemonium for this amazing offering. Thank you to the cast for coming out of your comfort zones for this.”
“What an utterly powerful and devastating piece of theatre. This is What Happens to Pretty Girls lays it all on stage, and makes you ashamed of the way we’ve all played a part in perpetuating the very problem portrayed in the title. Stunning performances by the cast, and what an insane piece of writing from Ken Kwek.
Pangdemonium never fails to impress, but this one really takes the cake.”
“Pangdemonium absolutely handled this issue beautifully, without downplaying any part of it. I could not ask for a better portrayal of this intense issue that is so prevalent in our society. Thank you. So glad there are people who see the importance in this conversation.
It’s scary how uncomfortable some parts got. felt every emotion that was expressed by the wonderfully talented actors. I cried, I was shaking, I was shaking so much I couldn’t give the ovation it so deserved.”
“Today I watched my first Pangdemonium show - This is What Happens to Pretty Girls - and I just want to say THANK YOU. I am a victim myself, and the words in the play are almost the exact ones thrown at me when I voiced out. And you are right, these things scar us for life. And victims like us don’t dare to voice out because nobody believes us anyway. But I am extremely grateful for this play - it really portrayed what I couldn’t tell my perpetrators, and it gave me strength from within.
So, a heartfelt thank you for saying what I couldn’t. And for making me believe that there are people who understand us.”
“And Pangdemonium nails it again! It can be tricky handling the topic of sexual assault, but I really enjoyed how this makes one leave the theatre contemplating the issues of consent, the grey areas and ambiguity in adult dating and relationships, drawing perpetrator/victim lines. Loved how there were no clear-cut heroes and villains, and excellent characterisations of the complex emotional nuances pre and post-assault - extremely real reflection of how and why people may respond in seemingly irrational ways in such compromised situations. As a woman it makes you wonder how you would/should respond.
As a man, I suppose it makes one look in the mirror and question ones own masculine beliefs and views of entitlement towards women’s bodies. There were some real moments of discomfort, where you could almost hear that intense, deafening silence from the entire audience, either from resonating with their own lived experiences, or from internally going “oh this, this can’t be happening?!” Highly recommended!”