Life and Practice
MRS TAN is a by-product of the need for political expression, and the want to make a creative statement. She transcends boundaries that limit the art of drag by elevating the vapid, and normalizing the off-kilter. These binaries are what has created a body of workwith solid foundations, but is also open to growth.
She’s currently a part of GlobalGrace’s Artist in Residency (Philippines, 2021) and several theatre productions that tackles capitalism, sexism, and mental health issues. To further redefine the concept of drag is the ultimate mission for this young queen. After makingher mark on brick-and-mortar night clubs, she continuously explores her artistry. Her works has been featured in various international art festivals and conferences, including Home Unbound: Southeast Asian Queer Cultural Festival (ASEAN, 2021); Liveworks: Live Dreams: Portal Australia (Sydney, 2021); fluctoplasma: FAULT LINES (Hamburg, 2021); Prague Biennale Re-Connect Art (Prague, 2021); UCLA Queer Intimacies: Community, Control, Resistance (Los Angeles, 2021); International Federation for Theatre Research Galway Virtual Conference (Ireland, 2021); NYU Performance and Screen Class (New York, 2021); ASEAN Youth Forum Yuwana Zine #4 (ASEAN, 2021) and Output No 4 (Denmark, 2021)
Living in a world I made up is what I am good at. From child’s play till choosing the medium of art I am doing right now, I have been making an alternate reality that I control. But I have always wondered: what if this control is to be challenged by people entering this world that I created?
Tandemonium is the tug of war between power and control –my power to set the rules and play by it, and the strength of audiences’ control over how the course of the performance will unfold. Tandemonium also stretches the limits of compassion in these audiences and shows how compassion is its own power.
Tandemonium kept on evolving within me, and in its creation, pressure built up.
When the gates opened on the first night, the dragons of this world ate me up. I completely lost the power and control of how the course of the performance will happen. I became a living puppet. An inner emptiness I tried to hide, and the hunger to make a living became apparent. My body shut down on its own.
Found myself in my sanctuary, the bathroom, completely helpless. I found myself lost.
When I thought I couldn’t bring my power back from the depths of my emptiness, another part of me opened –the vulnerable and soft side that I had been trying to hide.
I found the power within me when I became vulnerable again and learned to play with it in the short amount of time I had before the gates opened again. With the power of trust the team had given me, it transformed me into a formidable player to be able to challenge the rules that I myself established.
I realized that this performance became a game of power and control with people having an option to play around the circumstances given in a particular task – to make a request or to cancel one. It reflected people's sensibilities, even kinks, and fetishes, their own humanity.
When the final task was done, everything flashed right in front of my eyes. A re-imagination of my journey as a drag artist –how, at one point, my performance in drag was run by the whims of others, but now, I was the queen of my world. It opened my eyes to new possibilities. It filled the emptiness in me with love and even more trust.
There’s hope. And it is just there within me.
© 2021. GlobalGRACE Philippines