Victoria Theatre like funeral parlour

From ‘Old seats look like coffins’, 23 July 2011, Life!mailbag, ST

(Chua Thian Yee): I would like to share my view on the use of the timber-moulded backs of the Victoria Theatre’s old wooden seats as feature walls….It looks to me like coffins stacked together. Please do not use this design and turn Victoria Theatre into a funeral parlour.

(Bernard Chua): The wall of the timber seats resembles suspended coffins in the illustration that accompanied the article. I hope the real thing looks better than the picture.

This design will raise the dead

Aesthetics aside, the horizontal lining of the old wooden seats is intended to enhance the ‘acoustic feel’ of the theatre, and probably also a functional way of conserving furniture which would otherwise be put to waste. Of course Singaporeans , having an irrational fear of death and baulking at anything that reminds them of impending doom, whether it’s landscaping that looks like tombstones or buildings that look like sinking ships, would be terrified by a nostalgic arts centre having a feature wall looking like a fancy floating drawer of coffins, when they’re in fact just long wooden seats arranged in a space-saving manner. Which probably explains the sterility of our arts scene here, being stifled by the wild imaginings of the superstitious who see taboo and inauspiciousness in anything funereal. A funeral, by the way, is the only social gathering people organise on your behalf which you’ll never attend, and most of us spend a few days occupying a coffin at least once in our lives. So being afraid of a coffin, especially if it’s floating, is like refusing to gaze at a new home which every one of us has to move into eventually.

You can never please everyone when it comes to design, and if the National Arts Council (NAC) thinks stacking seats together in an eco-friendly feature wall design serves its intended purpose, then it should just ignore the naysayers who haven’t any better ideas of what to do with old furniture. Especially those who cry Armageddon at the sight of coffin replicas, but are willing to lie in an actual one in Thailand to ‘cleanse bad karma’.


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