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Structure of the Play


"Welcome to Emerald Hill!”  We first meet Emily Gan in 1950, as a capable domestic manager, a fond mother and a society hostess.

 As the play progresses, we deepen our acquaintance with Emily.   Just as when one meets a new friend, we learn her life-story in bits and pieces, and the most intimate details come last of all.  Emily’s progressive self-revelation is the linear structure of the play.


The first flashback to Emily’s childhood and early marriage shows the traumatic vulnerability and powerlessness of her youth.  When we return to the 1950’s we see how Emily’s present flows out of her past.


The second act brings us to the late ‘50’s, followed by a flashback to the glory days of the early 1930’s.  Emily’s domestic triumphs culminate with a return to the late ‘50’s, “babi buah keluak” and the story of Kheong’s break for freedom.


The last scene shows Emily’s old age in modernizing Singapore.  Her mind drifts free of time.  Her memory rewrites the past as she would have liked it to have been, with every battle a sweet success and herself secure in the love of her big, strong son.


Stella Kon, 1999 

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