2018 Year 4 Enrichment Talk – Pooja Nansi

Year 4 Enrichment Talk - Pooja Nansi 1

Year 4 Enrichment Talk - Pooja Nansi 4

On 10 May 2018, the Year 4 cohort had the opportunity to listen and learn from Pooja Nansi share about the theme “Beyond Page: Place, Perspective and Poetry”. The programme is part of Words Go Round, the outreach programme of the Singapore Writers Festival for schools and the community organised by the National Arts Council.

Pooja is no stranger to SOTA. In 2012, Pooja conducted a poetry workshop “A Letter to Myself – Finding Belonging in Poetry” and in 2013 together with Yu-Mei Balasingamchow spoke about “A Career in the Literary Arts.” Since then, Pooja has been active and prolific in the literary arts. In 2016 she was a recipient of the Young Artist Award and held the inaugural appointment of Singapore’s first Youth Poet Ambassador.

Drawing from Pooja’s performance of “Here You Are” staged at the Esplanade in 2016 – a one-woman show that attempts to find place for her family’s messy sprawl of stories in orderly Singapore – this enrichment talk continues to explore ideas of place, identity, memory and home.

Serene Lim (B2) shares her reflection of the talk:

The talk and performance by Pooja Nansi was extremely insightful and enjoyable, and resonated with me quite a bit. Personally, I’m a fan of Pooja Nansi’s work, so seeing her performance in person is very exciting.

I think what the talk really let me take-away is the importance of truly knowing yourself and preserving histories, because things will only truly die when people forget about them. In her poems Pooja Nansi reflects that her efforts aim to distinguish and preserve her family and their stories from disappearing into oblivion.

This is a poignant realisation for me, as I feel that I do not truly know myself and my stories. I feel that it is very easy to forget things which we do not make an effort to document, such as family history and the stories we always hear but never bother to record since we take it for granted that it will be remembered.

I feel Pooja made a great choice in choosing to perform her poems beyond presenting them on a page because she conveys her emotion through her voice. The themes she wrote about focuses on her experience as a third-culture kid is unique yet highly relatable. Third-culture kids are children raised in a culture other than their parents’, or the culture other than their given nationality for a significant part of their early years. I like how she is able to present a balanced perspective such as how she is proud of how her parents and grandparents contributed to where she is today and how she feels like she has two homes she loves.

Year 4 Enrichment Talk - Pooja Nansi 3

Year 4 Enrichment Talk - Pooja Nansi 2

I really enjoyed the way in which she weaved her family’s histories together because it allows the audience to see the personality and progress that each person makes, culminating towards Pooja’s experience in Singapore. The way the stories start out intentionally does not make it clear that they are all intertwined, but I think that makes it even more sweet when you come to see the links in her family tree and the intersecting points. By showing her grandparents first as their own individual people, instead of collectively regarding them as grandparents allows me to form a personal connection with them and to fully understand their predicament and struggles.

This session influences my reading of Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and the diasporic experience as I make a mental note to be more cognizant of the backgrounds and experiences of these characters in order to recognise them as individuals rather than archetypes. Attention to detail in my reading of the text is also highly necessary as something trivial at first may come to hold a lot more significance and represent a symbol for something deeper. Further more, I notice parallels in Pooja’s experience and Jhumpa Lahiri’s background in their interrogation of heritage, home and cultural inheritance.

In the final analysis, I personally relate to Pooja Nansi’s experiences, having been a third-culture kid myself, as I truly understand the story she was trying to tell and the feelings experienced. This talk brought back to me a plethora of memories and experiences that I had thought I had forgotten. Her poetry encapsulates the tension of trying to find one’s history and negotiate one’s sense of belonging. Pooja’s description of how she felt torn between the old and the new, tradition and modernity, all the while having the pressure to be the best in both worlds is the most accurate depiction of my understanding of diaspora I have heard.

Year 4 Enrichment Talk - Pooja Nansi 5


2018 Literature Afternoon – Renaissance Faire

On 29 March 2018, Years 1 to 3 students came together to showcase their exploration and learning of Literature. Framed around the theme of the Renaissance this year, the Year 1 students presented an inter-class drama competition, the Year 2 students helped with the publicity of the Literature Afternoon by designing posters and manned the DJ song dedication booth as well as conduct a calligraphy workshop, while the Year 3 students set up Renaissance-themed booths based on their study of Macbeth.

2018 Literature Afternoon - Poster 2 2018 Literature Afternoon - Poster 1

2018 Literature Afternoon - Presentations 5 2018 Literature Afternoon - Presentations 12

2018 Literature Afternoon - Presentations 8

Sonia Sheri (O3) and Manita Di Prisco (O4) share their reflections.

Sonia Sheri (O3)

“Events connect people, breed innovation, build communities and spark change”. This mantra sums up this year’s Literature Afternoon, as it was an amazing experience for me. Preparation for the annual event began in Term 1, when each Year 3 project group in class had to submit a proposal for a class booth during Literature Afternoon. Amazingly, Mr Colin Lim liked our group’s idea, which was to create jigsaw puzzles and memory games based on Renaissance-era paintings, as this year’s theme was a Renaissance Faire. The preparation process was very enjoyable, as we were given the chance to create our own jigsaw puzzles and memory games which was a new experience for me.

2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 17

On the day of the Renaissance Faire, the range of activities allowed everyone to experience various aspects of life during the Renaissance era. It was so fun to see everyone having fun, as they went around to check out the different class booths. There was so much creativity on display, as the booths featured everything from food and costumes, to weapons and games. Some teachers even dressed up in elaborate costumes for the occasion!

2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 8 2018 Literature Afternoon - Props and Costumes 14

Personally, this year’s Literature Afternoon was a really eye-opening experience. I now understand the Renaissance era better, and am thankful that I was given the chance to be a part of the event. I really enjoyed myself and highly encourage all students to attend future installments! I think that we should never turn down opportunities that will allow us to grow as people and learn about different cultures. Thank you to the school for organising such an enriching event for us!

2018 Literature Afternoon - Roving Photobooth 5 2018 Literature Afternoon - Roving Photobooth 31 2018 Literature Afternoon - Roving Photobooth 24 2018 Literature Afternoon - Roving Photobooth 21 2018 Literature Afternoon - Roving Photobooth 15 2018 Literature Afternoon - Roving Photobooth 9

Manita Di Prisco (O4)

I am very pleased and honoured to have been given the opportunity to be an emcee for this year’s Literature Afternoon. The theme for this year was a Renaissance Faire, which turned out to be a great success.

One of my favourite aspects of the Renaissance Faire was how student helpers like me could wear costumes from the Renaissance era. It was great to see so many students joining in the fun by dressing up, and some even wore elaborate masks and accessories.

During the event, there were a lot of fun and creative activities put by different classes. For example, there was a photo booth, a food booth and even a booth that allowed visitors to play a bowling game. Ultimately, the prize for Best Year 3 Booth went to O1, which put in a lot of effort to create a haunted chamber in one of the theatre studios. Many students queued to enter the haunted chamber, eager to be scared by their enthusiastic schoolmates.

2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 19

Another highlight during the Renaissance Faire was seeing our Vice Principal (Academic), Ms Ann Tan, dressed in an extravagant gown. She looked amazing, and even learnt how to use a sword to slay a piñata on stage during the Opening Ceremony. It was such an unforgettable moment for everyone. Hosting the Year 1 Inter-class Drama Competition was a very new experience for me. Together with my fellow emcee Delia, I had to introduce groups of actors from each Year 1 class, and give a summary of their performance. There was excitement in the air, as the entire Year 1 cohort was present to cheer on their friends. Delia and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and were impressed by the various skits.

2018 Literature Afternoon - Presentations 22

2018 Literature Afternoon - Props and Costumes 15

A lot of hard work was put in by teachers and students to make this year’s Literature Afternoon a success. I personally learnt a lot about the Renaissance era, and am sure that many students had fun too. All in all, it was an enjoyable time, and I’m looking forward to more of such Literature events in school.

2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 11

2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 13

2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 6 2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 5 2018 Literature Afternoon - Exhibits 4

2018 Year 3 Enrichment Talk – Guy Delisle: Documenting the Life Less Ordinary

The year 3 cohort were very glad to have, animator and comic artist, Guy Delisle on 1 March 2018 share about his work, inspiration, processes and outlook. The insights he gained from his travels and daily living transposed in frames, shadows, boarders, emanata provided valuable and unique perspectives as related by some Year 3 students here, in text and illustration.

2018 Year 3 Enrichment Talk - Guy Delisle 2

Elva Sim, O4

Guy Delisle’s doodles are inspired by many aspects of his daily life. Even the smallest things such as forgetting about his daughter while shopping can be inspiration for an entertaining and aesthetically-pleasing comic strip. During his talk in SOTA on 1st March 2018, he narrated many of his drawings, many of them documentations of his overseas trips. Most of the cities he has visited are off the beaten track, especially Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The way he narrated his stories really fascinated me, and my curiosity to know more about his stories grew as he revealed more details. The most compelling story he told was about a kidnapping ordeal. The kidnapping victim was so open about sharing every detail of what happened with Guy Delisle, including the incredible process of how he narrowly escaped. Guy Delisle produced a comic strip about the story, which kept all of us engaged and eager to know more.

Of all the talks I’ve attended as a SOTA student, this enrichment talk has definitely been a highlight. The content he shared was so relevant to us, especially Visual Arts students. The pictorial journaling he does on trips inspires me to do the same, as it is a great way to personalise and preserve memories in detail. As Guy Delisle shared, documenting memories through drawing can even be safer than photography, as people can get offended when they see someone taking a picture of them, while being the subject of a drawing is less likely to cause any hard feelings, and can even lead to good conversations. Guy Delisle has made me want to be more observant of my surroundings, as little joys can be found in what seem like the smallest and most insignificant moments of life. His source of income is primarily based on creating stories about his daily life and surroundings, so I’m sure paying a little more attention to my surroundings will benefit me in more ways than one!

2018 Year 3 Enrichment Talk - Guy Delisle 3

Kristen Ooi, O4

As Guy Delisle started to share his stories and ideas, I found myself captivated throughout the session. I really liked how he shared tips on sketching, and the interesting way he was able to narrate his experiences while showcasing his drawings.

I find most of Guy Delisle’s comics intelligent and hilarious. I really like his style of drawing, and feel inspired to try and do quick sketches daily to improve my own drawing abilities. The way he draws seems simple, and yet he’s able to capture details and shade his sketches with just a couple of grey markers at times.

One of the most heart-warming moments of the enrichment talk was when Guy Delisle spoke about how he was sketching an Arab. The man noticed Guy Delisle and came over to look at the drawing with his friends. Guy Delisle allowed them to look through his sketchbook, ended up having tea with them and even managed to get them to add an Arab word onto one of his sketches. It was a beautiful encounter that shows how sketching can allow us to meet new people and make friends. As a whole, it was a very enjoyable enrichment talk, and I’m really glad I got some tips for storyboarding and drawing.

2018 Year 3 Enrichment Talk - Guy Delisle 1 Faith Kang O1
Faith Kang O1

Andrea Cheah O2

Andrea Cheah O2

Anastasia Gunawan O1
Anastasia Gunawan O1

2018 Literature & Performance Showcase – Singapore Short Stories in Performance

On 31 January 2018, the Year 6 Literature and Performance students presented their dramatic adaptations of local short stories in a showcase to the SOTA community. The performances revolved around less discussed, but still relevant social issues that remain commonplace in the Singapore society. Issues relating to gendered hypergamy, capital punishment, as well as mental illness were discussed.

The first performance, “Pawn”, originally a short story by Amanda Lee Koe, narrates the efforts of a less-than-good-looking office lady attempting to woo a suave hawker from Malaysia, literally paying her way through their relationship. In many societies even today, there remains a social paradigm of females wanting to marry upwards of their social class—a phenomenon better known as gendered hypergamy. “Pawn”, however, problematises this paradigm as the better-educated office lady “marries down” to someone from a lower social class, though he is described to be better looking. The performance begins with a hopeful, playful mood with its portrayal of the initial flirting in the relationship that results in a comic contrast as the office lady is obviously interested in the hawker, though the hawker struggles to reciprocate his feelings. This contrast is reinforced by their characters’ facial makeup, with the hawker having no visible makeup on, whilst the office lady has her overdone. As the performance progresses, the female protagonist’s desperation is brought out as she pays for love repeatedly through gifts and by picking the tab when on dinner dates, only for the hawker to complain about portion sizes at fancy restaurants. Desperation reaches its peak at the end of the performance as the office lady’s act of “purchasing” love escalates from gifts to outrightly paying for the hawker to stay on in the relationship. The performance flips the social paradigm of gendered hypergamy, with the office lady not only “marrying down”, but also being virtually the only one sustaining the relationship.

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Pawn 1

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Pawn 2

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Pawn 3

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Pawn 4

Ashvine Naray Pandian, Gail Gay, Nigel Cheung

The second performance, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Hanging”, originally written by Alfian Sa’at, delves into the psyche of a prisoner on death row sentenced for drug trafficking. The performance questions the nature of the death penalty as an effective means of deterrence. Being caught drug trafficking in Singapore is an offence that can lead to the capital punishment. Despite it supposedly acting as a deterrent by making the cost of being caught significantly larger than the benefits of getting away with it, the performance forces the audience to contemplate the struggles of those who ignore the deterrent and commit the crime. It does so by revealing the motive Ricky, the protagonist, had in trafficking—that of supporting his family. It is also discusses the struggle the protagonist’s family face in trying to manage their own emotions in the days leading up to Ricky’s execution. The family’s struggle compellingly presented in the final scene of the performance where past and present Ricky talk on the phone to past and present mother in a four-way overlapping phone conversation. With Ricky’s impending sentence, questions about his mother’s age, and comments about him missing his mother’s food were delivered with extremely sombre implications. Another well-received scene saw the performers satirising the very execution process (how the rope is measured, how the convict is blindfolded, etc.) in a scene reminiscent of airline safety videos. This was of course immensely ironic as though airline safety videos are meant to save lives, the death sentence does quite the opposite. Overall, the performance thus questioned the use of the capital punishment due the impact it has not just on the prisoner, but also on the people around him.

\2018 LitPerf Showcase - Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Hanging 1

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Hanging 2

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Hanging 3

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Hanging 4

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Hanging:

Alison Ng, Izdihar Osman, Jayne Chong, Joseph Wong

The third and final performance, “Applause”, originally written by Cyril Wong, delves into the mind of a schizophrenic patient, Raj, a resident at Pelangi Home. Raj is promised a job after successfully completely his course of treatment. Things however, start to go awry when his counsellor goes back on his word, paranoia sets in, and Raj begins doubt himself. In this performance, all three characters, dressed in hospital patient’s garb of different colours, take turns to play Raj. When they are not Raj, they are either the other characters in the short story (e.g. the counsellor, the boss), or the voices in Raj’s head. In a way, the confusion of who is playing which role and when reinforces that idea of schizophrenia, an illness sometimes expressed through patients taking on multiple personalities. This creepily convincing performance peaked in the final scene when unassuming boxes were used to box Raj in literally as a visual metaphor for the schizophrenic patient’s entrapment within his his body and illness. Add to this the unceasing sound of rain, and a cacophony of voices telling Raj to “Stop!!!” and that “[He is] hurting [him]self!!!” and one could say the performance succeeds in bringing the audience very deeply into Raj’s mind in that final scene. At the end of the performance, one could not help but pity those with mental illness, but more importantly, also ponder how we perceive them. Why is it that we are so quick and willing to pity someone with a physical illness such as cancer, but so doubtful when it comes to mental illnesses, even though both can be as debilitating and as slow to recover.

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Applause 3

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Applause 2

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Applause 4

2018 LitPerf Showcase - Applause 1

Janice Yap, Jerome Wong, Shanil Lee-Basnayake

Write-up by Justin Loh P4

Photos by Ms Wynnie Kwok

The Year 6 Literature and Performance Class of 2018 would like to thank everyone who came down to support the showcase. Special mention to our Principal, Ms Lim, for taking time off her busy schedule to join us at the showcase, to the Theatre Faculty (especially Mr Fardzly) for accommodating LitPerf’s many requests and for providing technical support, to Ms Alycia Finley for helping with venue booking and everything under the sun, to the Literature teachers for providing assistance one way or other (from purchasing make-up, to photography, to offering to usher), and, to Myer Wong (IBCP Theatre 2017), Ashna Verma and Regene Lim (LitPerf Class of 2017) for running the light and sound board during the showcase and for being the emcee. This production would not have been possible without everyone’s help and support. Thank you.

2018 LitPerf Showcase - End

2017 Year 3 Enrichment – Singapore River Heritage Trail

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 21

Spanning 3.2 km from Kim Seng Bridge to the river mouth, the Singapore River has played a pivotal role in our waterfront city for almost 200 years. While it has witnessed rapid changes for better or worse, development isn’t always easy to grapple with as suggested by poems such as Singapore River by Lee Zhu Pheng and The Planners by Boey Kim Cheng, even with the best intentions.

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 5

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 4

Having deliberated weighty themes such as nostalgia, displacement, belonging, modernity and identity, the Year 3 cohort extended their rumination at the Singapore River itself. Although most of us have visited parts of the river upon occasions, we may not have had the opportunity to take a contemplative stroll to consider the creative impulses that have inspired many works of Singapore Literature.

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 16

Facilitated by Singapore History Consultants, on a sunny afternoon of 20 October 2017, the Year 3 cohort considered national monuments and the development of the Singapore River – and by extension the nation of Singapore – both as an exploration of heritage and literary landmarks. Along Raffles landing site, Cavenagh Bridge, and Boat Quay, intersecting points of discussion about cultural symbols and the tensions between personal histories and the national narrative unfolded.

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 12

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 10

To better encapsulate such thematic examinations, programme notes were specially tailored for this enrichment by Singapore History Consultant and the Literature Faculty which had related poems arranged together with pictures, maps and probing questions.

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 24

Matilda Tan (O8), reflects on the sentiments asserted by the poetic voice in The Civil Servant by Roger Jenkins as she and her classmates drifted along the Singapore River in a bum boat.

As the river was being removed of sewage and drained of its polluted waters, the people who used to reside along the river are also displaced. When people moved away from the river, their practices and way of life would also cease. After the river was cleaned up, it was emptied of people and settlements and was transformed into  a “leisure-friendly environment, yet incomplete”. The Singapore River today is clean and functions in part as a tourist attraction. Gone were the hawkers and squatter colonies, with only the body of the river remaining. Though the poet acknowledges the necessity of the clean up, a sense of loss and helplessness is expressed. Perhaps he is resigned to the fact that compromises had to be made, the “soul” of the river had to be misplaced in order for it to be renewed and polished.

I feel the same way as the poet as I look at the Singapore River today. The river is spotless, with no trace of sewage nor ships, save for the bumboat rides that serve as a tourist attraction. The river has been recreated into a place that is used for sightseeing and leisure, rather than a place for communities to come together to work in the river itself. The Singapore River of today no longer has the original bustle, beyond a tourist destination. The shedding of such character is compensated by other developments that have grown around the river banks such as the towering banks to always remind us of Singapore’s rapid economic expansion. Between “renewal” and the “soul” that has been “misplaced” however, the poet suggests that the new reality is bleaker for while we as a nation can construct anything into being, what cannot be “devised” is an “action plan” to bring back the river’s “soul”.

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 20

2017 Year 3 Enrichment - Singapore River Heritage Trail 26

Other poems in the programme notes referenced to include:

Nostalgia by Klyth Tan
Postcard from Chinatown by Terence Heng
Amoy Street by Lee Zhu Pheng
Singapore River by Lee Zhu Pheng
Work in Progress by Felix Cheong
The Planners by Boey Kim Cheng
A Prophecy Disclaimed by Gui Wei Hsin
Made of Gold by Alvin Pang

2017 Literature Night

On 20 October, the Orchestra Rehearsal Studio at SOTA played host to Lit Night, the Literature in English Faculty’s annual tradition celebrating our upper year students’ interaction with literary studies.

Lit Night has taken on a variety of forms every year, ranging from talks by visiting laureates to performance showcases of the young artists that make SOTA home. This year’s Lit Night featured a variety of performances revolving around spoken word and the theme ‘Unreal City’.

2017 Lit Night

Why ‘Unreal City’? The theme emerged during a group discussion involving the student organizing committee of Lit Night 2017. The phrase, picked out from T.S. Eliot’s masterpiece The Waste Land, can be found in the following lines that describe existential questions hanging over the dwellers of early 20th Century London:

Unreal City,

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,  

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,  

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,  

And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

Although sunny Singapore is not the likeliest of places to find brown fogs of winter dawns hanging over bridge-crossing crowds, the lines from the poem resonated with the organizing team, all of whom were in Year 5 and for whom the urban environment was the landscape of their own experiences as teenagers moving into young adulthood. Following the selection of the theme, students of SOTA were invited to create performances based on their interpretation of the chosen theme.

The result was a showcase of original works prompted by the phrase ‘Unreal City’. True to the spirit of celebrating literariness, each performer made use of the written word: words were sung, shaped into stories, spoken as poetry, or performed as stand-alone pieces, one-act plays, and sometimes blended with the performative qualities of other media like film and music.

2017 Literature Night 10

Myka and Alicia performing Honey by Khelani and Serendipity by Park Jimin

2017 Literature Night 1

Vandana Venkataraman performing Hyacinth Girl

Beginning the night’s performances were Year 3 students Myka and Alicia who presented their renditions of love songs Honey by Khelani, and Serendipity by Park Jimin. Love was a continued motif in Vandana Venkataraman’s dramatic monologue, Hyacinth Girl, on how love threatens to challenge one’s sense of self-preservation, and in Nuryn Qistina’s brave and breathless spoken word piece, Falling in Love With a City We Have Never Been To, which compares traveling and new encounters to the exhilaration of infatuation.

2017 Literature Night 2

Nuryn Qistina performing Falling in Love With a City We Have Never Been To

2017 Literature Night 9

Naja Suratee performing Milk

A number of the performers used the connected the theme to the act of growing up in an urban environment and how the experience shapes a sense of self-identity. Naja Suratee’s Milk was a collection of interconnected vignettes, each dwelling on coming-of-age experiences, while Harris Albar’s Spotify Happy Playlist explored the idea of learning to be unhappy the older one grows. Kristen Lauren Oliveiro joined SOTA in Year 5 (while most of her classmates had been part of the school since Year 1) and her confessional piece, i/I, explored how the self is constructed through changing identities.

2017 Literature Night 5

Harris Albar performing Spotify Happy Playlist

2017 Literature Night 8

Kristen Oliveiro performing i/I

Some seized on the title of the poem from which the night’s theme was taken from and performed various interpretations of wastedness and wastefulness. Notably Wan Xiao Qing’s spoken word poem Restive, Nicolette Wee’s prose-poem Ring a Ring a Roses and Maryam Norhimli’s creative non-fiction work, Cotton, explored the quandary of human relationships, activity, exhaustion, and the wastefulness of human existence.

2017 Literature Night 4

Wan Xiao Qing performing Restive

2017 Literature Night 6

Nicolette Wee performing Ring a Ring a Roses

2017 Literature Night 3

Maryam Norhimli performing Cotton

As young artists SOTA students have never shied away from complex issues in their performance art, and Muhammad Irsyad’s provocatively titled interactive one-act play, Singapore is China, deconstructed racial privilege in Singapore by subverting the identities of the privileged and marginalized speaker.

2017 Literature Night 7

Muhammad Irsyad performing Singapore is China

2017 Literature Night 11

Naqib Putra Zalman performing Amateur of the Form

Playing on the idea of Lit Night as a platform of expression, Naqib Putra Zalman’s Amateur of the Form took on the motif of freedom and nudity — through the usage of illustrations and a short film used as an accompaniment to spoken word.

As part of the students’ Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) component for their IB Diploma Programme, Lit Night gives SOTA students an opportunity to learn the workings of putting a performance art event togetaher. The experience will hopefully inform these young artists on the nuts and bolts of assembling a series of performances, so that the experience that they have gained as students of SOTA will include knowledge of on how to create the platforms for art to happen, in addition to increased knowledge and depth in their making of art.

By Catalina Rembuyan

2017 Lower Years Literature Afternoon

In our annual showcase of highlights from Years 1 to 3, the Lower Years Literature Afternoon took place on 19 October 2017 to celebrate our literary journey as we close this academic year.

Student performances, a diverse range of creative responses and even a culinary adventure inspired by N. H. Senzai’s Shooting Kabul were presented.

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 1

Year 5 visitors – Russell Chong and Keryna Chandra – introduces the Lower Years Literature Afternoon board

From the YEAR 1s:

The Creative Book Response was a June holiday graded assignment for the Year 1 cohort in which students were tasked to read any one of the 100 book titles from the SOTA Foundation Years’ Reading List.

After reading their preferred book, students could opt to:

  1. write a letter in the persona of a character giving themselves advice;
  2. build a miniature stage set of an important scene from the book;
  3. design an original book cover;
  4. draw a comic strip of their favourite chapter;
  5. write an alternative ending; or
  6. write a poem in response to the story.

Along with their creative product, students submitted a written rationale explaining their creative choices.

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 6

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 5

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 12

Mini Stage Set by Charlene Yong (R4) A response to Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

From the YEAR 2s:

Having read Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai, Year 2 students did further research on a local dish as they investigated the significance and role of food in the narrative.

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 8

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 9

Monica Toh (G1) shares her experience and her thoughts on the Lower Years Literature Afternoon.

Literature Afternoon was definitely a fulfilling experience as a Year 2. A few of my classmates and I served traditional Afghan cuisines, in particular, mantu. This was in line with the novel that we studied this year, Shooting Kabul, which centers around an Afghanistan refugee family.

As we served the dumplings to various teachers and schoolmates, we took turns to give a brief explanation about the dish and what it was made up of. Most of our “customers” savoured the dish, and it was extremely fulfilling to see some of them come back for more servings. Besides serving our dish to people, we also had fun watching the performances put up by the Year 3s and participating in the Kahoot Quiz. The performances and works on display gave us an insight as to what to expect for next year.

Through this experience, while explaining the dish to others, we also gained a deeper appreciation for Afghanistan culture. Literature Afternoon gives us a platform to showcase to the school what we have learnt from our literature classes, and at the same time, have fun while doing so. Given the chance, I would definitely participate in next year’s Literature Afternoon and encourage more people to come for it! It was undoubtedly a “lit” afternoon!

From the YEAR 3s:

In a personal creative response to a poem chosen from their anthology of selected poems, Year 3 students presented their engagement with the poem in a variety of ways ranging from video montages, interpretive dances, drawings, sculptures, music and original compositions. Creative works were submitted with an accompanying rationale to demonstrate appreciation of literary features in support of the student’s creative and conceptual choices.

A selection of performative pieces were put together in a diverse line-up while the art works were curated as gallery walk.

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 20

Sculpture by Dorothy Yuan (O7)

A response to The Guitarist Tunes Up by Frances Darwin Cornford

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 17

Illustration by Nigel Low (O5)

A response to Long Distance II by Tony Harrison

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 13

String Art by Xaxa Smith (O3)

A response to (Love Song, with two goldfish) by Grace Chua

(Love Song, with two goldfish) was also chosen by Ian Ng (O6) who presented his interpretation in the form of a rap which he performed at the Lower Years Literature Afternoon.

2017 Lower Year's Literature Afternoon 2
Ian Ng with the setlist

In sharing about his processes and approach, Ian notes:

I decided on the medium of rap (which stands for rhythm and poetry) to simplify and help those who listen to my rap better understand the poem. If some may find it challenging to access the poem at first glance, they can understand the poem too by listening to my interpretation of the poem in a different form.  I chose to work on (Love Song, with two goldfish) as I am able to relate to the themes of love and loss. Deciding on the music was not a difficult task, the only challenges I encountered was in summarising my rap and to keep it short and concise. I enjoyed presenting what I had to those in the audience and for myself especially since the journey in appreciating poetry and literary techniques is my own.

Summing up the event, Year 1 student ambassadors Sumi Tang (R7) and Jamie Koh (R5) shares:

As ambassadors, our job was to explain what the Creative Book Response was for, and how we felt about the project. We thought that the experience was enjoyable. The visitor that dropped by the event were impressed by the booths that were set up, so it was fun showing them the different art works by our fellow schoolmates. We too were in awe of the effort put in by them, as well as the immense creativity. There were so many great things it’s hard to pick a favourite, but one of the bigger and more eye-catching artworks was a mini stage-set of Percy fighting Ares from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief done by one of our fellow Year 1s. The performances were also delightful to watch, and it was interesting seeing what kind of songs, instrumental or raps our seniors composed. Another thing worth mentioning is the dumpling-like food offered by the Year Twos. They were incredibly delicious and alleviated our hunger. Being ambassadors for the event was a valuable experience and time we both feel was well-spent. We wish we could extend it to more people.

2017 Year 4 Enrichment – The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Crucible - Obsession Series

In May to July, SOTA’s Theatre Faculty presented a series of Western stage classics which explores humanity’s tendency to be anguished over desires, and get tangled up in mayhem in the process. Within the series was an adaptation of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Serendipitous, The Crucible was read as a play in the Year 4 Literature syllabus. Attending the play for enrichment was therefore a rare opportunity for the students to see come alive, a text presented by their own cohort peers.

To Theatre teacher Mr Sazali Abu Othman, the process was just as important as the curtain call for the decisions and changes made together offers learning experiences in the theatre-making. In a collaborative process, the cast and director discussed scenes to focus on in this adaptation in an effort to draw out most effectively the play’s thematic concerns. Other considerations that Mr Sazali had to pay heed to also included the distribution of parts to best fit the make up and dynamics of the cast. To this end, some gender roles in the original play were reversed and two John Procters were used.

Instead of staging the play in puritanical garb of the 17th Century Massachusetts, the clothes donned by the cast were altered; the “afflicted” were dressed in schoolgirl uniforms decked with matching socks and shoes while the unmovable  judges wore powers suits and court shoes. Beyond suggesting strict conformity, the outfits made references to cultures of regimentation and the attendant repression.

As students of both Literature and Theatre, Brian Ko, Gabrielle Ng, Naqib Putra Zalman and Amber Goh share their thoughts on the the roles they played in this convergence of art forms.

The Crucible - Pictures by Tan Shao Qi 23

Photo Credit: Tan Shao Qi

What aspects of the character were you trying to accentuate as you played your role?

AMBER: I played the role of Betty as well as Goody Nurse. Though these roles were supporting characters, they also had great significance in pushing the plot forward. For instance, Betty’s “illness” triggered the witch hunt when she fainted after being found to have taken part in the forbidden rituals in the forest. For Betty, I mainly had to lie down without moving for the majority of the first scene. When Betty woke up, I tried to portray the kind of fear that all the girls were tangled in as they were threatened by Abigail not to tell the truth. I initially thought that it seemed like an easy task to lie down and close your eyes, but when I actually experienced it, it was very different from actually sleeping. I could only rely on my auditory senses for my cues to “wake up”. Furthermore, there were a lot of struggles that happened between the girls and Betty, and I think there was a lot of trust among the actors, such that we were able to perform the struggle without awkwardness.

GABRIELLE: As an actor, I find that I get too comfortable with playing the more vocal and dramatic characters like Abigail Williams, and so when I was given the role of Elizabeth Proctor who is much more reserved, and quiet in nature, I was slightly taken aback. Our director, Mr Sazali, told me that he had made that role placement to let me broaden my range as an actor, and I am very grateful that he wanted to help me do that. What really helped me channel these aspects of Elizabeth was that he told me to picture her spirit animal. I imagined that hers would be a swan, an animal that displays poise, gentleness and peace. It was these aspects of her character which I thought were very important in portraying Elizabeth, and I tried very hard to incorporate this in my movement and speech.

BRIAN: His power hungriness. I wanted to portray an accurate version of Parris and according to the play, he is one power hungry reverend. At the start of scene one, it can be seen how desperate he is with regards to protecting his status and position in the community. He raises his voice at Abigail, forcing her to tell him about the witchcraft that his daughter was also part of. Parris fears that his opposition might use this scandal to stunt his career. Also in scene 3 at the courtroom, Parris attempts to deny the practice of witchcraft in his family when questioned by Judge Danforth. He breaks eye contact with the judge, he seats at the edge of the seat and stutters in denial. In this way, I tried accentuating Pariss’ power hungriness.

NAQIB: I was trying to portray John Proctor as a cold and analytical kind of person rarely showing his emotion but also vulnerable. It is only when he hears the news that his wife is accused of witchcraft that he shows that he does care. I was trying to portray him in such a way that the the audience will be moved to sympathise with him. I feel that an actor will only succeed in playing his or her character when the audience forms an emotional attachment towards the character, and roots for him or her to succeed. This can be enhanced by showing what the character stands to lose.

The Crucible - Pictures by Tan Shao Qi 13
Photo Credit: Tan Shao Qi

The Crucible - Pictures by Denise Wang 3

Photo Credit: Denise Wang

How did you feel about being part of a production that your peers are also studying for simultaneously?

AMBER: It was the first time doing the same text for literature and theatre. Theatre and Literature both analyse the characters in different ways but leading to similar outcomes, so it was nice to see both approaches play out together. Analysis discussed in Literature was also relevant to our characters in Theatre.

GABRIELLE: The fact that we were studying The Crucible in Literature as a cohort made me more excited to perform it. I was happy that I could be part of bringing this play to life so that my peers could maybe further enhance their understanding of the text as they could have the theatrical experience.

BRIAN: In class, when your character’s name is mentioned, classmates will look at you in admiration…*clears throat* I mean, knowing that our peers are studying the play, it felt even more worthwhile to be part of this production. The play is relatable to them and hopefully helpful to them as they study it. At the end of the day, a play is supposed to be performed. Performing this play fulfills that purpose of it.

NAQIB: It feels like extra literature lessons that kills two birds with one stone. When memorising lines, I can remember them as quotes to use in my literature essays. I used bits of my character analysis of John Proctor as my character’s motivation giving me a better understanding of the text.

  The Crucible - Pictures by Denise Wang 2
Photo Credit: Denise Wang

The Crucible - Pictures by Tan Shao Qi 1

Photo Credit: Tan Shao Qi

How has your understanding or appreciation of the character you played in the production impacted the way you studied him or her in your Literature classes?

AMBER: For me, we did not delve deep into the characters I played (Betty and Goody Nurse). However, based on my observations in Literature lessons and in Theatre lessons, I noticed that the subjects focus on different aspects. In Literature, we analysed the characters’ speech, actions, and what they were thinking to understand the character. Theatre might have a different interpretation. However, putting ourselves in the character shoes and seeing how we would react to various situations might allow us to further relate and understand their thought processes. In Theatre, we used our bodies, and our interactions with each other to incorporate the thought processes of the characters. That was how we built our characters.

GABRIELLE: Working on The Crucible in Theatre helped me with my understanding of my character in Literature, and vice versa. I believe that these two disciplines work hand in hand, and that one cannot do without the other, especially in one’s understanding of classic plays like this. With Literature lessons, I was able to understand the theory behind my character’s intention and the plot functions of the other characters. In Theatre, I was able to literally go into the shoes of Elizabeth Proctor, further enhancing my understanding of why she did certain things, like her terse answers to her husband. Having both Literature lessons and rehearsals for The Crucible simultaneously, I was able to holistically understand the play inside and out.

BRIAN: This was my very first time playing a character in an fully staged play, so whenever, my character appears in the book or gets mentioned in class, a warm feeling emerges from deep within me. Studying my character just reminds me of the good times I had during the production and the memories of playing that character. I became more passionate than before the production in studying Parris. Playing the character forces you to examine your character closely so that your portrayal of the character is a convincing one. The production created this need for me to really study the character’s personality, motivations and characteristics thoroughly. Whenever my character is mentioned during literature class, I would be more attentive than usual.

NAQIB: During theatre lessons, my understanding of my character slowly increased over the process of creating the production. This was achieved through line reads and doing our own analysis. However, we change the staging of The Crucible in our adaptation, thus making my character and his motives quite different, so my views on the character had to likewise adapt. However, it does not detract from the fact that it has had a great impact for I understand the story and the character John Proctor much better compared to before the production. I understand his relationship with his wife, Abigail and the dynamics in court much better.

 The Crucible - Pictures by Tan Shao Qi 4
Photo Credit: Tan Shao Qi

The Crucible - Pictures by Tan Shao Qi 9

Photo Credit: Tan Shao Qi

What are your thoughts on the set of the production? What do you think worked to heighten the tension of the play?

AMBER: We set it in a more modern context, in a school. I really liked the use of chalk as our set was all painted with chalkboard paint, including all the blocks, the steps, as well as the swivel door. At John and Elizabeth Proctor’s final moments together in the last scene, actors came on stage to scrawl on the set using chalk. We destroyed all patterns and texts previously written, and made it into a mess and a bunch of indiscernible markings. This was a very intense moment. The resulting mess contrasted starkly from the original clean state of the blocks to mirror the destruction inflicted on Salem by the witch trials.

GABRIELLE: On the contrary, I think some of the features in the set unintentionally broke the tension. Some of the actors had to enter through the swiveling doors during an intense moment in the play, changing the atmosphere with each new beat.

BRIAN: Listening helps heighten the tension of the play. Tension is aroused by good character interaction and listening makes interaction between characters much more powerful. Listening forces you to be in the moment. It takes away any unnecessary thoughts, fears or rehearsed staging in your head. Listening makes you think as the character as you listen to the other characters, which then gives you the clarity to respond much more truthfully. Tension comes from the genuine interaction between characters because characters always have conflicting desires when they talk to each other. Reacting truthfully with the aid of good listening shows the conflicting desire and hence arouse the tension on stage.

NAQIB: The set was minimalist and sparse. I say this in a positive way. Having too many things on set would be too complicated in a short amount of time. The space established by the set helps to sufficiently contextualise the interactions among the characters. The set has two spinning doors at the centre back of the stage with blocks that form stair to it with a bench on the far left and grilles that descend from above to act as jail cells. The set does not actually give us an established setting, time or location, making it timeless and at the same time allowing the actors to interact suitably. Therefore, having a minimalist setting is good as it balances the performance against the backdrop.

The Crucible - Pictures by Denise Wang 12
Photo Credit: Denise Wang

The Crucible - Pictures by Denise Wang 17

Photo Credit: Denise Wang

In your opinion, which character was “brought to live” in the production, why?

AMBER: For me it was the interaction between John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor. Compared to the suspicion Elizabeth had of Proctor in the earlier part of the play, there was a big change at the ending where they reconciled, knowing that there was little time to bear grudges against each other. This change in relationship between the pair was “brought to live” for me.

GABRIELLE: Personally, I think that everyone did brilliance to their characters, and brought their own flavour to the characters. However, I do think that John Proctor, played by both Naqib Zalman and Taylor Belliston, was especially well played because both of them managed to portray different perceptions of his character. The Proctor played by Taylor appealed to Abigail’s desires and her version of reality whereas the Proctor played by Naqib portrays Proctor’s truer self and the truth he tries to live out.

BRIAN: I think John Proctor was “brought to life” by Naqib. Proctor is the main character of the play and I felt that Naqib had enough weight to pull through. He could vary his emotions very well. He had that stage presence, especially in scene two where he interacts with his wife Elizabeth Proctor and his servant Mary Warren. My favourite part of his performance was when he raised his voice at Mary Warren and told her “If you wish to seat up, then seat up!” That was humorous and at the same time reveals that strict and unyielding side of him. The little choices that Naqib made in delivering the line consistently showed how Proctor was a firm and confident individual who would stand up against fraudulence. He also had good foundation on his face.

NAQIB: I believe that the character of John Proctor was brought to life most. This is due in part to the fact that the character is played by two actors. This depicts a duality; my portrayal of Proctor in more control whereas compared to Taylor, Proctor’s emotions just burst out of him – anger, sadness, and joy. It shows the distinctions of John Proctor’s emotional states in the play. In the beginning, he is more composed but at the end, he is more given to his emotions.

The Crucible - Pictures by Denise Wang 13
Photo Credit: Denise Wang

The Crucible - Pictures by Tan Shao Qi 7

Photo Credit: Tan Shao Qi

2017 Year 4 Literature Arts Integration with Ceramics

The first two Year 4 Visual Arts ceramics modules this year was crafted and assessed in collaboration with the Literature Faculty to further facilitate the student’s exploration and experimentation with symbols and symbolism employed as a poetic device and in ceramic works.

In analysing and extrapolating layers of meaning in both literary texts and ceramic, students deepened their conceptual grasp of symbolism in this multi-modal environment.

At junctures during the Visual Arts periods, Literature teachers referred to selected poems to discuss connections between the use of symbolism in the literary texts and ceramic. Among the various aspects of the poems discussed were the evaluation of effects created through symbolism. The selection of poems thematically made references to the human anatomy to draw parallels with the Visual Art investigation into votive offerings. Some examples of the poems discussed were My Father’s Left Hand by David Bottoms, Laundry by Ruth Moose, Heart to Heart by Rita Dove and The Fist by Derek Walcott.

Equipped with a clearer appreciation of how symbolism can be used effectively in poetry, students composed an original poem that aimed to demonstrate application of symbols while depicting anatomical conditions previously assigned to each student for a ceramic task. With the Literature teacher in this session, students brain-stormed concepts for the poem and discussed their approaches.

2017 Literature Arts Integration with Ceramics - Discussions 13

2017 Literature Arts Integration with Ceramics - Discussions 6

2017 Literature Arts Integration with Ceramics - Discussions 1

2017 Literature Arts Integration with Ceramics - Discussions 3

Towards the end of the ceramic module, the students shared a draft of their poem and provided insights to their inspiration and creative impetus during a follow-up session with the Literature teacher. During the discussion, students considered the connections perceived between the use of symbolism in both mediums in their role as potter and poet. Such processes were consolidated in their Visual Art research journal to document their developing thoughts.

Within another few days, students finalised their poems and accompanying rationale for the Literature Teacher to provide feedback. Around this time, the corresponding ceramic works were also being readied for firing.

Audrey Lum

Condition assigned: Ménière’s Disease

Ceramic Sculpture:
Ménière's Snail

Poem: Meniere’s Snail
Ménière's Snail



Meniere’s snail is a symbolic poem about the ear. The shell of a snail usually has a spiral pattern, which very closely resembles the auricle of an ear. The use of “slow and steady” in the first five lines is used to describe the pace of the snail, but it is also used to represent one of the symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Someone with Meniere’s disease would suffer from giddiness and imbalance, therefore slow and steady is used to show the patient’s ruminations while attempting to be stable. The repetition used also incites a sense of fear, and wariness and gives the reader the impression that the patient is trying to reassure himself. Another symptom is introduced when rain is mentioned, because the patient feels a sense of fullness, almost as though there is water trapped in his ear, therefore rain is used. The snail hides itself away from the rain, and this creates imagery of feeling trapped and alone. The word “silence” is used twice in the poem, hinting at the symbolism of the ear. “Crack” and “silence” in the last three lines shows how in being stepped on, the snail dies. This imagery is used to represent how “invisible” patients with Meniere’s disease are. Meniere’s disease affects the internal structures of an ear, and someone with Meniere’s disease, like the snail is not easily  recognized. The overall mood portrayed is somber with “threatened”, “afraid” and “silence” used.  The patient’s or snail’s fear and cautiousness with the environment is emphasized. The poem is structurally visual, and places an emphasis on the underlying context, which is the ear. The negative space of the structure creates a spiral, which represents the shell of a snail, linking the snail to the ear.

Isha Gupta

Condition assigned: Rhinophyma

Ceramic Sculpture:

Poem: Perspective


In this poem the symbolism used is a rhino put on display in a zoo. I used this symbol as I found that it successfully portrays the idea of people with rhinophyma constantly being stared at and distanced from society due to their affliction. Being trapped in a cage represents the alienation from others and confinement those afflicted face in society. The animals are kept in zoos to be viewed, discussed and judged by the public, which is what happens to those who have rhinophyma which disfigures the nose, an area which is in the centre of the face and attracts a lot of attention like the sight of a “rare creature” in the zoo. I chose a Rhinoceros as its horns best represent the enlarged nose caused by rhinophyma and in both cases the horn and nose becomes the defining feature of the animal or the person. In my poem I used imagery related to a rhinoceros such as “charging”, “hooves” and “bellows” (the sound a rhinoceros makes) with words such as “bulbous” which is one of the most common adjectives used to describe rhinophyma. About half way through the poem at the line “while parents and children gawk alike” the perspective of the poem changes from a visitor at the zoo to the rhinoceros itself. The visitor views the animal with amusement not really thinking much about or noticing the rhino’s distress, comparing the rhinos movement to dance however when the perspective switches to the rhinoceros and it can be seen that it is angry and frustrated, pacing rather than dancing, believing that the visitors will never truly understand them and they are just a “sight” to the visitors and nothing more. This contrast in views shows how society may think they are sensitive to those with disfigurements however small things like staring start to accumulate and emotionally weigh down those affected. Emphasis is brought to this change in viewpoint by the structure of the visual poem. The lines from the outsider’s perspective is aligned in the centre of the page however the lines from the animal’s perspective deviate from this and cut across the page breaking the order and thought process of the outsider. The zigzag structure at the bottom also represents the constant movement of the rhino in the cage from “left to right” and “right to left” out of suppression and the need to try to find a way out. This sense of movement is also seen in the first line “forward” and the last line “backward” which represent the everlasting struggle to get society to understand the emotional trauma of those affected but ending up nowhere due to the lack of communication seen in the poem as the visitors whisper and the rhinoceros bellow.

Selena Chua

Condition assigned: Takotsubo

Ceramic Sculpture:


Poem: Takotsubo
Deceptively reserved and flat,
It lies in tranquil, and in depth.
Beneath the rocky den it lay,
Waiting for the time to catch its prey.
With a sudden swing of its bendy limbs,
Its tentacles sucking out the life it seems.
A big beat pulse,
The fragile graspings.
A pumping squeeze
And the deep dark freeze.
Creeping back its way it goes,
That’s just how the cycle flows.

This poem depicts the experience of having the heart disease, takotsubo. As a translation of takotsubo is “octopus pot”, the octopus takes on symbolic significance in the poem and ceramic. Instead of having the octopus portrayed as the victim caught in an octopus trap, it is shown as the fierce predator. Through the imagery of the octopus grasping for its prey, parallels are drawn to the symptoms shown by this condition. With symptoms similar to a heart attack, the condition can cause the patient to experience sudden shortness of breath and unstable pulse. To portray this, the poem begins with a calm and tranquil atmosphere, with the octopus as the predator creeping up on its prey, ready to pounce on it. Suspense is intensified when the octopus appears from its hiding place. Described by the “big beat pulse” and “a pumping squeeze” to suggest heart palpitations, the sudden seizures parallels with  the sudden lurches of the octopus. The cunning and swift act of the octopus is portrayed in the ceramic votive, having its tentacles peeking out from the pot while its head stays hidden inside. The “cycle” that “flows” in the poem refers to a cardiac cycle. The ending of the poem suggests that the heart disease is reversible, thus similar to the retreat of the octopus. The woody and fibrous texture of the ceramic work symbolises the strength and endurance of the heart.

2017 Literature Enrichment for the Foundation Years

2017 Literature Enrichment for the Foundation Years 1

“If you don’t feel anything when you take a photograph, people won’t feel anything when they look at it.”

Indeed, this quote shared by visual storyteller and photojournalist, Zakaria Zainal, stuck with our students who attended the Literature Enrichment Talk on Visual Storytelling.

When asked to reflect on the session, this is what some of them said:

“The talk was about photography and journalism. I learned about how journalism and meaningful pictures could stimulate your emotions. I felt grateful that we had the chance to listen to the talk as it made me realise that photos and pictures could move so many people, and in some cases, help people. It was interesting how different pictures told different stories. I enjoyed the experience and would not mind listening to another one of Mr Zak’s talks in future.” (Christa, R2)

“I enjoyed when Mr Zak talked about accompanying his photos with a write-up. The images of special and important life moments or milestones are powerful, but with descriptive words, I saw how the reader could get a better understanding of the photograph’s message and be able to appreciate it better.” (Rochelle, R7)

“I learnt that though the composition of an art piece, whether it be photography or visual arts or performing arts, they all had to have a story behind them to really succeed. If a photography or painting was made just for the sake of it, it would be bland and anyone would be able to tell.” (Charlotte, G6)

“I learnt that taking a good photo doesn’t mean one needs a good quality camera but it’s about the concept behind it or what message one wants to portray through the photo.” (Kar Yi, G5)

On 2 and 9 March this year, the Years 1 and 2 were given the opportunity to learn more about the medium of visual storytelling, and more importantly, how and why stories are told through photographs.

Zakaria shared the inspiration behind his work, which started off with photographing global issues far removed from home and self, and how he experimented with form when he felt that he was stagnating in his craft. As he grew and matured as an artist, he started to look inwards instead, asking himself what it meant to be a Singaporean Malay-Muslim, and how his work was informed by his identity. He also developed an interest in engaging with local social issues such as documenting the stories of retired Gurkhas as well as Southern islanders like the Bubu fishermen who had to give up their homes for the progress of the nation.

The students also learned about how photographs work with the copy or text to tell a story that should move the reader emotionally. Zakaria also left students thinking about what makes a good photograph by saying that if a photograph is not good, it is because the photographer is not close enough to the action. This made students think about the subject matter of any photograph, and what issues they themselves might be passionate enough about to take risks with.

Overall, the talk was an eye-opening experience which enabled students to see the connections between Literature and storytelling beyond the literary form.

2017 Literature Enrichment for the Foundation Years 2

Previous Older Entries


The views and opinions expressed on this website does not represent those of the School of the Arts, Singapore.
%d bloggers like this: