© 2020 by Sim Yan Ying "YY"

Reviews - I LOVE WHITE MEN

"YY has incredible stage presence. Funny, charming, and real she takes us through her time in New York through the lens of the white men she slept with. She navigates each story wonderfully and plays off of the audience with ease. The story is crafted in such a way that you are laughing and cringing so much one minute that you do not expect the rug to be pulled out from under you the next. Suddenly, the story sheds all of its comedic disguises and we are told a very real and very powerful story. YY handles all of these moments expertly.

[...] “I Love White Men” was a thoroughly entertaining show in no small part due to the talented writing and performance of YY. It was a coming of age story that’s still coming, meaning that she didn’t try and provide us with answers for the questions asked in the play. She expresses that she’s not quite sure of the answers herself and this only adds to the play’s honesty. The impact is felt more because we know there isn’t any attempt to manufacture answers. “I Love White Men” is definitely worth checking out for anyone looking for a fun and honest night of theatre." - Max Berry, OnStage Blog

 

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"Sim Yan Ying (also known as YY) has a commanding presence and unique rhythm to her speech that captivates even as it delivers devastating punch lines. During the show that I attended, she was able to diffuse a potentially disruptive audience participation overstep with aplomb.

[...] "At the end of the piece, YY reveals that she has been able to compartmentalize her love for the white men in her life, in her new home, and in the world at large. She has finally come to terms with her love for white men and is able to move on with her life. And move on she does, as she concludes the piece talking about what matters most to her... As YY would be the first to tell you, the woman who began this journey is not the same one who ended it. With a one-person show, and a young artist, this change is not only par for the course but a uniquely compelling part of following the journey." - Zach Ezer, Long Day of the Modern

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"YY is earnest throughout. She digs into what could explain her white addiction. Maybe it was that weird chat guy that groomed her to pursue white men. But it could have a lot to do with Singapore worshipping the effects of British colonization, which she tactfully explains, first by telling a sweep-clean version then by uncovering the backhanded elements of British domination. It could have a lot to do with her parents asking when she’ll get a white boyfriend. There are plenty of laughs and the more serious deconstructive moments also stick as much, and YY retains an openness for self-growth. She herself created this show to deconstruct whiteness but hasn’t quite found easy answers. Any person of color, Asian women in particular, would need to hear this candid cringy work by YY." - Caroline Cao, Medium

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"The end was similarly heartfelt and thought-provoking. YY questions why so many Asian stories are centered around whiteness or heavily involve it, and that inspired me to reflect on why that is. We're left with the thought, " I love white men as the stepping stones which led me to discover some very important things about myself. I love white men as a part of my past," which was a really powerful ending." - Evangelyn Rachel, The Odyssey Online

Interview with VaudeVisuals, on I LOVE WHITE MEN

 

Source: Vaudevisuals Interview with Sim Yan Ying

Other Features & Mentions - I LOVE WHITE MEN

 

Broadway World - "Caveat NYC Presents I LOVE WHITE MEN By Sim Yan Ying 'YY'"

Broadway World - "I LOVE WHITE MEN Opens Tomorrow at Caveat NYC"

Asian American Arts Alliance - "Performance - I LOVE WHITE MEN"

Playbill - "Ars Nova's 12th ANT Fest Announces Lineup"

Reviews - Without Reason

"Without Reason is an important play in Singapore’s theatre canon, daring to raise questions about the viability of and challenges to the survivability of an interracial relationship in our judgmental island home. [...] Yan Ying’s bold script does not hold back from showing the ugly side of Singaporeans lying just beneath the surface of our supposedly racially and religiously harmonious country. There’s a conversational quality to her script that’s relatable and could well have been extracted from an actual talk in real life. This was also buoyed by each family’s realistic portrayal of their familiar family dynamics, and Yan Ying has done good research to write each of them as a believable family.

 

[...] For Peer Pleasure, Without Reason is a crucial, daring play that highlights these often overlooked issues that too many simply ignore or smooth over with the guise of ‘I’m not racist, but…’ statements. Without Reason ultimately spoke to its audience on a clear, understandable level, and hopefully, enlightened them on the long way we still have to go towards true racial harmony in Singapore." - Bakchormeeboy, The Arts and Culture Review

 

"Central to the strength of the play is its commitment to very human characters who are complex, distinct, flawed, and relatable. Sim and Kosnan have together fleshed out a world in which most characters are both relatable and foreign, likeable and detestable, and that has made all the difference. Though it roots for the two protagonists, it also gives audience members the space to evaluate and interpret for themselves... It was a play that shook the audience firmly, and pointed to a place we need to look at. We need to wake, live with awareness, advocate intentionally, and practice active kindness." - Kiayee

"Digging deeper, Sim Yan Ying’s play talks about the issues arising from interracial marriages, from misconceptions of the other race, of racism, ignorance and growing up in Singapore. These issues were sensitively dealt with but also bravely, I would say. Ignorance of the other’s religious practices and culture became starkly funny and awkward for the audience, as they recognise the potential disasters that could happen here if the characters on stage were not teenagers/acting [...] I thought it was precisely Yan Ying’s craft in making this lighthearted yet serious that made this piece so wonderful for conversation and discussion." - Artsy or not

Feature of Without Reason by Berita Harian

Translation: "Ms Sim, who is studying Theatre and Psychology at NYU, said that this play aims to promote the understanding of each other’s ethnicities while understanding the uniqueness of our own ethnicity. She was inspired to write this play based on the experiences of a close friend who experienced challenges in an inter-racial relationship.

 

Hafidz, when interviewed said, “This play is not just a love story. Yan Ying has managed to discuss issues that are relevant such as, must a person change their beliefs because of love?” “Weiyi, in the play, grew up in an ethnically Chinese school and never had friends from different racial backgrounds. So Weiyi sometimes doesn’t realize how her words can offend other races." - Nurmaya Alias, Berita Harian

Interview with TODAYonline, on Without Reason

"Earlier this month, Without Reason by young playwright Sim Yan Ying was staged at the M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival 2017 and tackled inter-racial relationships.

 

The play portrayed challenges couples face, such as the prejudices of their family members and peers and also their own hidden biases.

 

Sim, 21, wrote the play to explore issues that arise from living in a multiracial society, which she felt she had not really grappled with while growing up in Special Assistance Plan schools.​

 

"I graduated having no friends of other races besides the acquaintances I made in primary school, and I wasn’t aware of how problematic that was, until I met people of various ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds in the theatre industry. I realised then, how much I didn’t know about people of other ethnicities even though they live in such close proximity to me.

 

“Hence, I wrote Without Reason as a way for me to explore this problem, to get to know another race better, and to understand my racial privilege,” she said.

 

Exploring these multiracial themes in theatre also addresses issues that may provoke a deeper thinking and discussion.

 

“Racial harmony goes beyond producing a National Day music video painting a utopic version of ethnically diverse Singapore, nor should it be simply gauged by the fact that we’ve never had racial riots since the 1960s,” Sim said. “The underlying racial tensions are present in Singapore — we see them erupt on social media sometimes — and just because they don’t manifest themselves in violent ways doesn’t mean that they aren’t as insidious or harmful. Even after we learn how to accept and understand each other — how do we then go beyond merely co-existing, to integrate without losing our sense of individuality?”

 

Sim wrote Without Reason to join the conversation about these issues." - Reena Devi, TODAYonline

 

 

Interview with Bakchormeeboy, on Without Reason

 

"As an international student and a minority in the United States, ‘The Other’ is pretty much my identity – which is not always a bad thing. Sure, I don’t understand a lot of the American cultural references that my friends make, I occasionally have to deal with racial slights, and it’s annoying having to constantly repeat and explain my name to people in the U.S., who tend to assume that ‘Sim Yan Ying’ takes on the conventional English first name/ middle name/ last name structure. But in general I’m fortunate to be living in New York City, a very diverse place, with people who are generally quite accepting (can’t say the same for many of the other places in the U.S.).

 

Most of the time I thrive on being ‘The Other’ here. I relish in breaking racial and gender stereotypes in my art and in my life, and in an ironic twist I sometimes even take pride in self-exoticism. I like surprising people. In terms of creating works in the theatre, I am able to draw from experiences that differ greatly from most other artists, and hence provide fresh insights and perspectives. Being an artist who is an ‘Other’ in a place like NYC feels to me more an asset than a curse – if I leverage on it, it can really help me to stand out in a way that’s advantageous, as I’m able to create works that are more interesting and unique." - Interview with Bakchormeeboy

Interview with ArtsWok Collaborative, on Without Reason

 

What is so unique about theatre as a form for engaging with social issues?

 

"The fact that it focuses more on the human story than the issue itself – more specifically, how social issues affect people on an individual, personal level. Like news reports, lectures, and statistics on the issues, you can process a play logically and rationally. But more than that, you engage with it emotionally and sometimes even spiritually, which can be very powerful.​

 

Theatre allows for a range of perspectives – there’s no need to make absolute statements, because theatre explores an issue rather than debate about it. I hope that through my work, people can entertain the possibility of doing or thinking about things in a different way – hopefully in a way that’s more empathetic and compassionate." - Interview with ArtsWok Collaborative

Interview with ArtsWok Collaborative, on Without Reason

Source: Audience Reactions to Without Reason

Citation of Without Reason in Arts Education and Cultural Diversity: Policies, Research, Practices and Critical Perspectives

"(ii) Without Reason, a full-length play, performed from 2nd till 4th August at the Esplanade Theatre Studio, written by Sim Yan Ying and directed by Adib Kosnan. [...]​

 

Performing diverse perspectives about how the Other is often excluded, misunderstood and disenfranchised, participants expressed multiple ideas about how to deal with these problems and rethink reductive norms. At times they pointed to glimpses of a utopian future, but more often they enacted the frustration, and at times confusion, of having to steer through paradox and contradiction when thinking about the human condition. The purpose was not to fully resolve these questions but work towards imaginative engagement with complex issues, in the hope that they become less daunting and more comprehensible through the process of dialogue and performance."​

 

Source: Arts Education and Cultural Diversity: Policies, Research, Practices and Critical Perspectives by Chee-Hoo Lum & Ernst Wagner

Review - 06:58

 

"The Rooftop Collective certainly holds potential, and many of the ideas explored in the second movement could very easily have been transposed to a full theatrical production to add new layers and nuance. What 06:58 is then, is a taster of the wealth of possibility these young theatre makers still have for the local arts scene [...] These are people who are aware of where their strengths lie, and they should continue to capitalize on their individual strengths and work towards producing a truly cohesive whole." - Bakchormeeboy, The Arts and Culture Review

Interview with The Straits Times

 

"While her peers were mulling over which university to choose and what to major in, Ms Sim Yan Ying was undertaking creative roles and production responsibilities in the theatre industry.

 

Having graduated from Hwa Chong Institution after her A levels in 2013, she shelved her pursuit of a degree to explore her passion in theatre. "Working with local theatre companies allowed me to experience different roles such as acting and stage managing. This deepened my understanding of theatre as an art and as a profession. I am more focused in university now because I have a clearer sense of purpose, and I know what I want to achieve," said the first-year drama student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

 

Ms Sim, 20, is among a growing group of youth who are taking a gap year before university. Among the "gappers" whom The Straits Times spoke to, reasons for taking a gap year include volunteering, gaining work experience and travelling." - Ng Keng Gene & Wong Shiying, The Straits Times