Acting for a change

Acting for a change

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players," playwright William Shakespeare wrote.

And the Whampoa branch of voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) Beyond Social Services has taken this literally to heart.

They aim to spark conversation within the community on social challenges faced by children and youth, such as poverty and poor school attendance.

But instead of doing this through a campaign, they are going the creative route and putting up a theatre performance.

One of the facilitators of the play, Ms Izzaty Ishak, 24, said: "By presenting it in a more light-hearted manner, our intention is to get people thinking and talking about this issue.

"Watching a fictional story acted out allows you to distance yourself from the problem, encouraging people to voice their opinions."

Instead of being passive spectators, the audience will be encouraged to take part by interacting with the performers.

At any point, they can stop the play and take the stage as actors and try to change the story's outcome.

This will add a diversity of voices, as well as breadth and depth to the discussion, said Ms Izzaty.

The storyline of the play, which will be performed in English, has yet to be decided.

The New Paper spoke to local comedienne-actress Haryani Othman, 36, on her views about the project.

She was supportive of the idea and said: "Other opinions, perspectives and views could act as a wake-up call and bring about a mindset change, for both actors and audiences."


Last year, Beyond Social Services partnered Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support, a group which helps pregnant girls aged 21 and below, to put up a theatre performances.

It was staged in neighbourhoods in central Singapore, such as Lengkok Bahru.

Ms Izzaty said that positive feedback from the public for those shows encouraged them to explore it further this year.

Miss Fairuz, another facilitator, said they are looking to recruit volunteers for the performance, scheduled to run from July to September this year.

A taster workshop that will allow interested volunteers to find out more about the project, such as by meeting actors from last year's project, will be held tomorrow. (See report above.)

Miss Fairuz said: "We don't need people with prior theatre experience. We're just looking for volunteers with the heart and determination to care and contribute."

She and Ms Izzaty are both theatre graduates, the former from LaSalle College of the Arts and the latter from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London.

Volunteers will be involved in the creation process right from the start, conducting research through interviews and crafting the script before rehearsals begin, said Miss Fairuz.

Besides actors, they are also looking for practice venues, materials for costumes and sets and financial support.

This theatre piece will focus on the concerns of those living in rental housing blocks in Henderson, Bukit Ho Swee, Whampoa, Lengkok Bahru and Ang Mo Kio.

"It will be a co-creation process by, with and for people in the communities," said Miss Fairuz, emphasising that the project will take a ground-up approach.

They plan to perform within community centres and other public spaces in the area, with the aim of making it as accessible to the public as possible.

This article was first published on March 25, 2015.
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