251 is a provocative play based on the life of former porn actress Annabel Chong. She was born as Grace Quek, who was unnaturally bright and was in the elite gifted education programme. However, her doppelganger Annabel was just as precocious. Annabel broke new ground and pioneered significant changes in the adult film industry by setting a new record – 251 men in 10 hours. Annabel Chong became more than a household name – she was an international star.
Then one day, Grace decides she has had enough of Annabel. With each step of Annabel’s rise to prominence, Grace felt an additional part of her was taken away. Thus, she decided to “kill” Annabel and publicises it on Annabel’s website, proclaiming “ANNABEL IS DEAD”. Grace Quek was thus reborn as a web designer.
251 traces the fascinating story behind Grace and Annabel. A series of narrative re-enacts, re-constructs and imagined conversations between Grace and her world, Grace and her father and finally Grace and Annabel. It aims to expose our national psyche and our attitudes towards adult films, alternative lifestyles, sex, creativity and individuality.
More crucially, it also challenges the benchmarking of a “national hero” – just how do we define one? Can one be considered a National Hero by beating the odds and setting new records? Is she Reckless Rebel or Radical Pioneer? Porn Princess or Media Maverick? National Pride or National Shame?
Go watch the play and find out for yourself.
SHOW TOTALLY SOLD OUT
I was waiting to purchase tickets for the play “251” one week prior to its opening and guess what the sistic outlet staff told me? Sold Out. I left with a slight disappointment but what I will say is that Grace Quek or should I say Annabel Chong was searching for herself in her journery through the porn industry and in the induldgence of flesh. She lost the meaning of her life after she was gangraped in London while on her scholarship. Being a Christian, she constantly have to battle her inner demons as well as coming to terms as to what and who she really is. And she did her soul-searching by embracing the taboo.
I remembered when the Newpaper broke out this news about a Singaporean being in the porn industry, alot of Singaporean greeted it with disgust and embrassment. Me and my friends was gossiping about this at the coffeeshop while some of them even went and bought her VCDs from Malaysia to catch a glimpse of what sort of fetish did she induldge in.
While it is easy to dis her for her immoral behaviour, Singaporeans being Singaporeans tend to neglect the real reasons behind towards her actions.
If people was to watched the movie “SEX: The Annabel Chong Story”, which was raved as a indie classic documentary about a Singaporean Girl who embark on what was a extremely taboo mission in search of her true self and identity, they would have a clearer picture and explanation from Annabel Chong herself. Some tear-jearking scenes I might add when it comes to her reconcilling and seeking forgiveness with her parents.
But with all explorations and journeys there must be a ending as with any rebellious child coming to terms with responsiblity. I am not sure whether after going through her taboo path that Annabel Chong has made peace with her side but judging from her career achievement such as being a Editor of a Women’s Magazine, a web designer and being featured on Vibe as one of the successful writers back in 2002, I sincerely believe that she is happy and is moving towards her career goals.
So much so, she became rather illusive and perhaps determined to kill off her “Annabel Chong” character. Even when the preproduction of 251 was in the works, Grace Quek refused to talk about her past life and would only give her blessings to the play through a friend of hers.
In my closing, as just anyone of us, we all have issues in our life but for Grace Quek or Annabel Chong it’s was exceptional. Why so? It was because of huge media amplication towards its notoriety as well as its taboo nature in a rather conservation society like Singapore.
It is a classic study for human flaws but at the same time forgiveness and making peace towards oneself. Thus only cast the first stone if one is without sin.