Friday, February 12, 2010

Damn. Lee Weng Kee's dead.

He passed away on the morning of Wednesday 10 December. (Mervyn corrected me; I thought it was the 11th.)

For those of you who don't know him, he was one of the older members of Singapore's English acting scene - he'd actually grown up on a farm and run away from home several times, and been irritated when Kuo Pao Kun came in to advise them on a play they were workshopping and claimed that city kids could never understand what farm life was like just from one day's immersion.

He was in his '50s. Maybe '60s. Pneumonia, says Facebook. He'd acted as the father in "251", my Annabel Chong play, where he'd taken me out for coffee near a gym afterwards and told me about his life: how he'd lived in England and had a passionate affair with a priest who lived in a castle and seen old lovers, much aged and with symptoms of HIV, in Babylon bathhouse in Bangkok, which was one of the only places people in Singapore could openly cruise in the old days.

He'd written a play as well, he told me, in which he slaps the dead body of his mother.

A number of people had bugged him to write his autobiography, but he'd never got round to it.

He played a feng shui master in the very first episode of "Under One Roof", Singapore's first English sitcom. He was also a regular in "Happy Belly", I think. Recently, he played a charming man in a senior citizens' home in "Chasing Adam Cheng" and a hospitalised man who can see ghosts in "The Patient". I'd critiqued those two plays.

I don't know what to say in moments like this. I wasn't close to him. I wasn't a gigantic fan of his acting. But I respected him. And it does feel like one of the fires has gone out in this world.

(He was very frank about his sexuality, so I don't feel it's a betrayal when I tell you these stories. Strange also, knowing that as someone who wasn't a close friend, I didn't have enough of a relationship with him to betray him.)

1 comment:

Readymade said...

R.I.P. :/ I'd have read his autobiography.