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DEP Devising Workshop at the Esplanade
Over the weekend of 1-2 July 2017, the J1 Drama Elective Programme (DEP) students were invited to participate in a devising workshop at the Esplanade as part of ACJC’s involvement in this year’s Singapore Youth Festival. Titled ‘Building Communities through Drama’, the workshop was led by Ms Natalie Hennedige, the Artistic Director of local contemporary performance company Cake Theatrical Productions. Over the course of two days, DEP students from secondary schools and junior colleges across Singapore were taught to devise improvised physical and textual performances, using trigger words like ‘neighbourhood’, ‘home’, and ‘family’ to engender a sense of community. The overarching theme of the ‘human knot’ was up for interpretation, and the students conjured up diverse scenarios and tableaus to provoke discussion among the audience.
An inspiring moment on the first day of the workshop set the tone of mutual camaraderie that would pervade the next forty-eight hours. Despite being strangers, and without prompting, the students of ACJC and Tampines JC decided to merge and form a circle before the workshop began; as more students trickled in, the circle expanded to accommodate everyone in a refreshing display of communal warmth; one that exemplified exactly why if the arts are the earth’s mantle of human connection, then theatre, above all layers, forms the common ground. Although strangers at first, the circle of excitable and eager teenagers opened up new friendships that blossomed over the next two days, culminating in the exchanging of phone numbers and social media handles by the end of the tumultuous two-day journey.
Along with the neural-like network that spread rapidly across the different secondary schools and junior colleges, the students learnt essential performance skills: for example, the importance of improvised collaboration and the effectiveness of physical theatre in visualising abstract and ineffable ideas. Against time limits and set music, the students collaborated to form spontaneous tableaus that were both thoughtful and entertaining, some even provoking belly-laughs during rehearsals from fellow cast members and coaches. Our students’ overwhelming gratitude was clear when their devising showcase was attended by their teachers and seniors all eager to support this fresh batch of potential talent. With our students often taking the initiative to kick off the exercises and volunteering to lead the others once the coaches relinquished their guidance, they left with renewed perspectives that will shape their dramatic experiences in the future. With new friendships and approaches under their belts, the workshop was thus a memorable and illuminating experience for them.
The class would like to thank the DEP teachers, Mrs Geetha Creffield, Ms Michelle Wong and Mr Chin, for letting us have this wonderful experience.
To God be the Glory, the Best is Yet to Be.
Liyana June Adnan