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


Year 2 Literature Enrichment @ Botanic Gardens – Rain Forest Trail

2016 Year 2 Literature Enrichment - Botanic Gardens 10

The Year 2 Literature Enrichment on 25 and 26 October 2016 provided students the opportunity to go on a guided tour of the Rain Forest Walking Trail located at the Central Core of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This six-hectare patch of primary rain forest is what is left of the original vegetation that previously covered most of Singapore. With over 300 species of plants, it is home to a vast array of biodiversity. What the students perceive with their senses serves as inspiration material for a poem that they produced in the midst of the lush greenery in the form of a sonnet.

2016 Year 2 Literature Enrichment - Botanic Gardens 4 2016 Year 2 Literature Enrichment - Botanic Gardens 13

2016 Year 2 Literature Enrichment - Botanic Gardens 12

2016 Year 2 Literature Enrichment - Botanic Gardens 18

Alicia Tay shares her experience on this Literature Enrichment.

Being near nature helps to calm myself down and turn my focus away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The nature walk also helped me gain a greater knowledge of flora and fauna at the Botanic Gardens. I enjoyed bonding with nature and the time spent with my friends. This programme was a great way for us to generate inspiration to write our poems.

Poems come in many different forms. I explored the structure of the sonnet during this enrichment and became more aware of the differences between the rhyme schemes of the Elizabethan and Petrarchan sonnets. This enrichment helped me to appreciate poetry better. In trying compose a sonnet, I better understood the demands that this form requires of the poet.

2016 Year 2 Literature Enrichment - Botanic Gardens 19

Sonnet by Nadra Ahmad & Matilda Tan

The Vanda Miss Joaquim tilts its head upright
Its petals a burst of vibrancy
Radiant under the sunlight,
It flourishes silently.
At the centre is a sunset,
Hues of yellow and purple intermingling
In a harmonious duet
Like songbirds singing.
It perches its lips gingerly,
In hopes of pollination
For a bee to land tenderly
To carry to another location.
The Vanda Miss Joaquim tilts its head upright.
A bold and treasured sight.

Year 1 Literature Enrichment – Buds Theatre Company Workshop

Year 1 students attended a workshop by Buds Theatre Company on 24 October 2016 that introduced them to basic theatrical conventions in preparation for their drama module in 2017.

Students learnt to
• Clarify context
• Appreciate and value space and performance
• Understand and appreciate character
• Understand and appreciate staging
• Work in groups and accept constructive criticism

Students were given a set of diverse and interesting scripts from different genres in drama to read. This gave them an opportunity to engage in different scenes and reflect on character, placement of set and the general layout of performance.

Feedback from students shows that they thoroughly enjoyed the workshop while learning about the conventions of drama in a fun and thought-provoking way.

“I learnt that we can tell a lot about a character from the way they walk, talk and hold themselves.” Anusha Lara (R1)

Buds Theatre Company Workshop - SOTA 3

“I enjoyed the relaxed and non-threatening atmosphere in the classroom.” Angela Ananya Ramkumar (R8)

Buds Theatre Company Workshop - SOTA 2

“I loosened up and went all out in acting and had lots of FUN.” Eryn Lim (R8)

Buds Theatre Company Workshop - SOTA 1

“I enjoyed the space and freedom we were given to interpret the scripts.” Tasneem Begum (R6)

Buds Theatre Company Workshop - SOTA 4

“I really like how I was able to learn another art form other than dance. I have always wanted to act and being able to do so today really made me happy.” Anneli Tan (R3)

Buds Theatre Company Workshop - SOTA 5

Year 3 Literature Enrichment – Treasures Retold @ ACM

Borrowing from the phase Treasures Untold, this Year 3 Enrichment is titled Treasures Retold to suggest that when we engage and interact with them, treasures and cultural artefacts can inform us more about our ancestry and be given a new breath of life.

In learning more about the selected artefacts during the guided tour that formed the first part of the programme, students gained a deeper understanding of how cross-cultural interactions happen and, came to recognise the results of such intermingling as evident in the artefacts’ purpose, provenance and creative impetus.

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 12

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 16

Directed by their inspiration, students revisited their artefact of choice and tried their hand at penning a poem inspired by the artefact. In doing so, students were further exploring the ekphrastic poetic form. Meaning “description” in Greek, an ekphrastic poem is commonly based on a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning. (source: Poetry Foundation)

To support their understanding of ekphrasis, students reviewed two such examples. Firstly, the poem Not My Best Side by U. A. Fanthorpe based on the painting of Paolo Uccello, St. George and the Dragon, and secondly the lyrics of Starry Starry Night by Don McLean based on the works and life of Vincent van Gogh.

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 13

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 19

The Year 3s were treated to an energetic dramatisation of Not My Best Side by Jaanvi Agarwal, Rukshana Driver and Natasha da Costa who brought to live the distinctive tones of the different personas to show how U. A. Fanthorpe had subverted discourses in chivalry and the other. Another element of surprise that was delightfully sprung was the lovely a capella rendition of Starry Starry Night by Natasha da Costa.

In retelling the stories of these artefacts students are challenged to put themselves in the shoes of a voyager, craftsman, entertainer, or scholar to imagine their hopes and dreams and perceive these artefacts through various lenses such as anthropology, history, geography, literature and the arts.

We would like to make a special mention of thanks to Sharon Chen, ACM Education Officer, and the dedicated and thoroughly delightful team of docents for making this enrichment possible.

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 1<

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 2

Faith Lee (O7) relates her experience:

As a VA student, I really appreciated and enjoyed seeing all the reliefs and sculptures in the gallery. They were so intricately carved, and knowing how difficult it is to sculpt, I admired their skill. I learned a lot through the tour. It was really interesting to learn about the context of their creation. It was interesting how the wealthy sailors would commission such sculptures as an act of gratitude for protection on the seas. I was surprised to learn how each depiction of Buddha evolved depending on which country the religion spread to. The sculptors carved some of the statues with features or into poses that resembled those of deities already worshipped in the native country. This helped Buddhism be accepted more readily and spread quickly.

It was also interesting to learn about the origins of Buddhism. I was captivated by the story of how Siddhartha Gautama gave up his princeship and everything he possessed, and wanted to write a poem to reflect this. It was quite a unique experience to write a poem based on another older artistic creation. This was like adding a further layer of meaning to the sculpture, and writing my interpretation on it was almost like bringing it to life.

Poems and artworks can be experienced by the viewer in two ways. Firstly, through a quick glance to admire its beauty, or through close analysis, which uncovers deeper details and meanings that may not have been noticed before. Examining a turn of phrase in a poem, or the composition and brushstrokes used in an artwork can allow one to fully appreciate the intention and skill of the poet or artist.

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 11

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 20

Jaanvi Agarwal (O6) shares her insights:

I enjoyed looking at the different artefacts and artworks from different parts of the world, and seeing how art influenced the lives of the people over the centuries. The artworks were preserved very well. For example, cloths from India still had their patterns and colours clearly imprinted which showed how dedicated the artists of that time were to make quality work. This taught me as an artist to also put a lot of dedication into my work, and make it valuable enough to transcend time and become part of the collective culture.

During this enrichment, I learned that the world has always been very multicultural, and a lot of artefacts were created, exchanged and transacted as a result of economic trade and business. For example Vietnam started making blue porcelain with designs inspired by Indian myths, when China ceased the export of cobalt.

Adapting a work of art into creative writing was an interesting experience because before this I had never thought about how an art piece and its history and background can help me craft a poem. I decided to do a shape poem to discuss the artefact and its creation though the structure of the poem. I found my work aesthetically pleasing in a similar way that the artefact is aesthetically pleasing as well.

The programme made me realise that poetry does not necessarily have to be abstract or distant. Many people can appreciate poetry that has been inspired by almost anything such as object, an event, or a person.

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 10

The Enlightened One by Faith Lee (O7)

Artefact: Bodhisattva
Accession number: 2014-00570

Abandoned princehood
Exchanging a golden crown
For pearls of wisdom

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 9

Cabinet by Rukshana Burzeen Driver (O6)

Artefact: Cabinet
Accession number: 2013-00164

When opened,
A pearl comes out of an oyster,
It shimmers like the sun,
The perfection of a craftsman,
The cabinet need not be filled,
As it is filled with a glittering emptiness,
Which is fullness.

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 5

عالم الفلك (Astronomer) by Isabella Ocampo (O5)
[read as ‘ealim alfulk’]

Artefact: Planispheric Astrolabe in the River
Accession Number: 1998-01545

Qibla; Mecca; Hajj
words I will never understand.
ancient people,
they follow a golden path of
stars and
(life death rebirth)
the universe’s slightest
whisper of a map to the ends of time.

we are not them.
we are a middle generation,
strung along temple visits and prayer times
before we stop
and light becomes big burning balls of gas and
the path to Jannah disappears
but they remain
with the Adhan and Iqama of their fate.

We will never know the meaning of stars.

Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 17

Blue Velvet / Sandstorm Seas by Oliver Noel Phillips (O4)

Gallery: Tang Shipwreck

They carried the seas with them
Lines that once guided,
Blue velvet waters
Now frozen with time and varnish

Sand dollars awaiting an unfulfilled exchange,
Hope was suffocated in silt, sand and clay
Centuries of sleeping dormant
Awakened by the humble and curious sky

Spirits arranged in ceramic bloom
Glazed over eyes imprisoned
A glistening barrier between
The voices of the past and minds of the present

Depressed bowls filled,
Each with one undying soul
Memory enslaved by the patterns,
Both engrained in the sandstorm browns

Embellished mirrors turned asunder,
Protecting cried faces of antique people
From those who stare with modern empty wonder
As burgeoning chapters of history are subtly unwritten

Greedy creatures had stolen them from rest
Pulchritude of the living dead
Hollow sight and marvelled glares
On ever-passing dates


]Year 3 Lit Enrichment @ ACM 15

A series of uprooting by Aditi Bharade (O8)

Artefact: Storage Jars, containerised shipping in antiquity
Accession Number: 2005-153087

Unaware, I was uprooted from my earthy habitat, chiseled against my will into a fine, utilitarian form.

Unaware, I was loaded unto a vessel with hundreds of others like me, equally unsure and uncertain.

Unaware, I plunged into the saline depths of the sea, and dark and unforgiving as my future.

Unaware, I landed amongst a colony of colourful creature, who were taken aback by this intrusion.

Aware, I was embraced by the aquatic life, and content, I lived this way for many dynasties, oblivious to the wars above me.

Unaware, as an old man I was uprooted as I had been as a child, again by those loathsome hands, to beautify me, shape me, in foreign white spaces.

Unaware, I was placed with precision onto a spotless white stool, where I glowered down upon those who gave me a disgusted eye, those who had no concern of my story, those who shuffled away in the unearthly quiet to prevent getting another glimpse of me.

Aware, that the colourful aquatic beings who had latched themselves upon me were slowly conforming to the surroundings, becoming unremarkably white.

Unaware, that my life would continue to be a series of uprooting.

2016 Literature Night

Twilight and the Witch Lit Night 2016

Literature Night is an annual event where students come together, bound by their mutual love for literary expression, to perform interpretations of literary works as well as original works inspired by a literary theme. This year, a few intrepid students decided to take on the challenge of organizing this event as a CAS project, and what you see tonight is the result of their unflagging conviction and hard work, along with that of our pioneer Literature and Performance students who are getting a first taste of the process required of them in the performance component of the IB assessment. We would also like to extend our deepest appreciation to our dedicated alumni (too many to name here) who have supported and performed at this event over the years. We are gratified to see them continuing to pursue their dreams at some of the world’s preeminent colleges and institutions.

As we are almost a week away from the Hallowmas season, this year’s theme seems fitting. From contemporary retellings of children’s stories to interpretive mash-ups of classic songs, some students have adapted coursework for the stage while others have extended the theme in their devised pieces to encompass the fissures and instabilities in family structures, exploring the symbolic heart of the fairy tale, where anybody could be a witch or a little girl lost in the woods.

Featured below are some performances from the event.

1 Nadya Zaheer

Nadya Zaheer

“Letting Go”

3 Mona Hanae Gomez

Mona Hanae Gomez

“Ghost by Anne Sexton”

6 Naja Surattee

Naja Surattee

“Darah Keturunan Keling”

7b Irsyad Dawood and Grace Chew

Irsyad Dawood and Grace Chew


8 Shermaine Lim

Shermaine Lim

“I Do Not Speak Your Language”

9 Ashna Verma, Amber Lieu, Christina Cai, Regene Lim, Lim Yu Juan

Ashna Verma, Amber Lieu, Christina Cai, Regene Lim, Lim Yu Juan

“The Ash Girl”

10b Anivin Narayan, Farizi Noorfauzi, Ashvine Pandian

10a Anivin Narayan, Farizi Noorfauzi, Ashvine Pandian

Anivin Narayan, Farizi Noorfauzi, Ashvine Pandian

“People Are Strange”

Teacher Advisors

Mark Rozells
Mark Tan
Audrey Chan (Stage Management)

Organising Committee

Nicole Tong
Mona Hanae Gomez
Ashley Ho
Megan Lim En
Rachel Leia Devadason
Goh Sze Kei


Ashley Jane Leow
Kimberly Wee

Year 4 Literature Enrichment – Starring Hitler as Jekyll and Hyde

Starring Hitler as Jekyll & Hyde, a 2016 production from The Finger Players.

“In my research, I found that there were many many uncanny similarities between 1930s Germany and what is happening today; xenophobia, racism, and the rise of fundamentalism. So it nothing else, its gotten more resonant.”

Chong Tze Chien (Writer/Director)

The piece was original, well performed and enjoyable.” – Adly Aziz (B1)

Well written, just the right balance of the different worlds that were created during the course of the play allowing audience interpretation; making this piece a very effective and interesting piece of art.” – Nigel Cheung (B6)

The performance was extremely intense, with all the dramatic sound effects and setting. I completely enjoyed the performance.” – Tan Hong Ying (B2)

These were just some of the comments that the Year 4 Students had in response to the Year 4 Literature Enrichment Programme on 13 October 2016 . Staged at the Victoria Theatre by a local group called The Finger Players, this production was chosen because it pulled together many ideas and genres that the students explored this year and will continue to explore in the IB years ahead. It was even more special that our students were able to support two of our IBCP students who were acting in the production; Andre Chong and Irsyad Dawood, who both did a phenomenal job.

Christine Chua (B4) had this to say in response:
“It was interesting to observe how the play’s visual effects such as the use of colours, light, reflections and shadows were innovatively manipulated to aid the character’s speech while contributing to the atmosphere of the scene. In retrospect, this play allowed me to gain deeper insights into the consequences of how wrongful governance, terror and fear can lead to the tragic ruination of a city.

This play also provided an interesting insight into the role of arts in society. Adapted from “The strange case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde”, this play was a fresh and bold collision of history, arts and politics. However, I felt that there were too many complex concepts intertwined into one play, making it hard for the play to fully resonate with every audience member.”

Emma Ting (B7) also added:
“I think overall the play had some good ideas, such as the comparison between the gothic novella, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, and the actual historical figure of Hitler.
At times, it felt like the ideas were forced together because of the over emphasis of one over the other.

However, the strong acting of Hitler and the art curator really shone on stage and helped pull the production together. The careful and dedicated depictions of their characters brought much needed energy and life to the work.”

Starring Hitler as Jekyll & Hyde
Photo credit: sistic.com

After watching the performance, the students penned reflections and identified connections between the performance and their study of Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”:

• The whole issue of conforming to societal pressures for self preservation was evident in both this production and “The Crucible” we studied.

• The use of fear and hysteria resulting in conformity, and the idea of diaspora of the jews, the segregation between foreigners, the feeling of alienation.

• The breakdown of systems during times of chaos was similar to “The Crucible”.

• The idea of extremist ideologies and how easily people are swayed by mass hysteria.

• The idea of individuality, and how easily society can turn on a minority group.

• Power corrupts. People in a position of high authority can start out small and rise if they are fueled by an excessive desire to achieve something (like Abigail who wanted John’s continued love and Hitler who wanted people to support his paintings).

• The choice between good and evil, individuals that conform to society and those that turn to evil ways under societal pressures. Connections were also made with what was learned in Year 3 History.

• This was an adaption, which is similar to our June holiday assignment for “Interpreter of Maladies”.

• Similar to “The Crucible”, political leaders in the play contributed to the ruination of their city by making ludicrously irrational decisions (such as their baseless accusation on the blind lady), fear and terror plaguing both city-dwellers and political leaders.

• Use of certain literary devices such as irony as well as interpretation of stage directions, and relevance of contextual understanding .

The students showed a deep appreciation of the set design, use of mirrors and shadows, as well as the story line and the twist in the plot.

It was also nice to have other faculty members of the school coming along with the Year 4s to support the programme. We look forward to having more engaging quality enrichment for our SOTA students.


Thank you to Dr. Christina Tan (Music), Mr Fared & Miss Alessandra (Theatre) and Miss Charis Lo (ELCT, not in picture) for coming along with the other Literature teachers!

If you want to read more about the performance you can go read a review here.

by Mrs Dorcas Tirhas

2016 Literature Seminar

The Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education, Singapore organises the Literature Seminar for Secondary 2 to 4 students from Integrated Programme Schools with the aim to stimulate their interest in Literature by exposing them to literary issues and concepts that are beyond the typical school curriculum, enabling them to deepen their knowledge of the literary discipline.

From SOTA, two thesis proposals were selected for presentation at this year’s Literature Seminar from the Cross-Media Exploration strand. The other strands include; Explorations along thematic lines, Explorations of one (or more) specific writer(s) and/or styles, Explorations of writings of a specific literary period, Explorations of a genre/a comparison of genres, and Explorations of Critical Theory.

The presenters share their journey and their Literature Seminar experiences.


Topic: Defending the Motherland: Exploring depictions of Conflict and Struggle in Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est and Percy Wyndham Lewis’s A Battery Shelled

2016 Lit Sem - Sarah Anais Buxton-Leow

What I hoped to achieve from my participation in the Literature Seminar was to deepen my analysis for Literature and to try something out of my comfort zone and beyond what is taught in the classroom. My topic originally was examining how World War One paintings challenge the dichotomous portrayal of the war in World War One poetry, however as I worked on my presentation and the feedback received on my proposal, my topic eventually narrowed down and the final presentation title was “Defending the motherland: Exploring depictions of conflict and struggle in Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ and Percy Wyndham Lewis’s ‘A Battery Shelled’”.

I’d definitely encourage other students to take part in the Literature Seminar because you really have the freedom to explore beyond the syllabus taught in class. As my presentation looked at World War One paintings, I found myself having to learn how to analyse paintings and look at various elements because being a theatre student, I had no clue how to look at a painting analytically before Literature Seminar. I also found myself doing a much deeper analysis of the poem than what I would usually do in class or under a timed setting, and it was a really enriching learning experience for me. I do feel that the Literature Seminar stretches you and challenges you to do more than what you are used to.


Topic: Power, Fate and Determinism: A comparative study of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Justin Kurzel’s 2015 Film Adaptation

2016 Lit Sem - Russell and Kimberly

For us, upon participating in this seminar, we had hoped to garner more out-of-curriculum opportunities, and increase our exposure to Literature, as well as to have the opportunity to further deepen the quality of our literary analysis through this research experience. During the process of crafting our presentations, we went through many refinements on our topic, finally deciding on exploring the deterministic nature of power in Macbeth through a comparative study of Macbeth by William Shakespeare and the film adaptation Macbeth by Justin Kurzel. The entire process included many sleepless nights of close analysis of the text and visual analysis of the film. Furthermore, we learnt to contextualise and form holistic arguments that were based not only on the content of the different mediums, but also on real-life concepts and theologies in the context of Macbeth and its society (such as The Great Chain of Being, etc.), which was something we found interesting to explore beyond merely the text itself. As neither of us were students of film, the process of analysing and picking out the significance of certain director’s choices was an enriching experience, one that further widened our approach.

For other year 2 to 4 students next year, we would strongly encourage you to take part in the seminar and submit your proposal, because you really do get to hone skills that you would be able to apply to not only Literature, but many other subjects, especially subjects that require large amounts of research as well as writing, such as ELCT or the humanities. Moreover, you also get to experience what it’s like to study English Literature at a much higher level, and because of this, you do gain a lot of experience in reading, writing, and analysis, which will definitely push you past your comfort zones and possibly also help you in doing better for works within the school’s curriculum.


Other thesis proposals from SOTA included:

Castaway Colonists: Colonial Attitudes in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe by Pujaa Kasivishvanaath

The Grass is Greener in the West : Identity Crisis in The Inheritance of Loss and The Third and Final Continent by Sailalitha Aiyer and Ingle Rachana Sanjay

Intrinsics of the Evanescent : Analysing the Powers of the Dream in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman by Ian Ong

An analysis of Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations and Brian Kirk’s 2011 film adaptation by Victoria Foo Kye Wen

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns : Is limited liberation, still liberation? by Iliescu Adela-Alexandra

Fruitless labour: The unattainability of female empowerment in Hills Like White Elephants and A Temporary Matter by Elizabeth Cheng

Literary Perspectives on Humanities Learning Journey

During the Humanities and Social Sciences Learning Festival in Term 2 Week 10, Year Three students embarked on the Resilience Trail as part of the programme led by the Singapore History Consultants.

Brian Ko shares how his literature lessons on war poetry in Term 2 helped to frame his perspectives of this learning journey.

On this informative learning journey in the surrounds of Kranji, I learned more about Singapore’s experience during the Second World War among other national concerns. My learning was made more enjoyable, exciting and educational by my previous exposure to war poems during my Literature lessons. The poems included Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen, How to Die by Siegfried Sassoon and The Soldier by Rupert Brooke. While analysing the poems’ tone, we explored the idea of fighting and dying for one’s country as well as perspectives on war propaganda. Though the poems discussed in class were based on the First World War, the themes are applicable to the event of the Second World War.

2016 Year 3 HSS Resilience Trail 18 - Kranji War Memorial

The highlight of the trail for me was the visit to the Kranji War Memorial. It was there I realised how tragic and dreadful war is. Singapore had its part to play in the biggest war known to mankind. Many had given up their lives fighting for Singapore against the Japanese who invaded in 1942. Even though the Japanese won the Battle of Singapore, the fighting spirit of the people was not abated. This can be seen in the efforts of resistance groups were formed to oppose the Japanese who retaliated till their surrender.

2016 Year 3 HSS Resilience Trail 52 - Kranji War Memorial

The grand, monumental burial ground for the brave fallen made an impression on me, especially since it was my first visit. Seeing the headstones made me realise that men and women of various ages have been sacrificed in war. Our facilitator shared with us that the youngest person buried at the Kranji War Memorial was a boy of age 16, merely a year older than us. His age surprised me. A boy who was one year older than me. Furthermore, the boy died a year after the war. That means, the boy managed to survive the war, but was not able to enjoy post-war peace due to his injuries sustained.

2016 Year 3 HSS Resilience Trail 29 - Kranji War Memorial

At the end of the day, this journey have made me realise how valuable peace is. Peace might not last forever and we should not be taking what we have today for granted. What we have today have been fought for and came at a price.

2016 Year 3 HSS Resilience Trail 44 - Kranji War Memorial

Romeo & Juliet – SOTA Reviews

On 18 May 2016, the Year 3 cohort attended Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare in the Park by the Singapore Repretory Theatre. Diverse and insightful, Emma Yong, Beatrix Teng and Tan Qiao Lin provide their reviews.

Romeo and Juliet

Emma Yong

My first time watching a Shakespearean production definitely gave me a lot to think about.

Arriving at Fort Canning Park, there was already a snaking queue predominantly made up of students from various institutions waiting out the drizzle. It was worth the wait. Walking through the white gothic gates, I was greeted by the dynamic stage layout — layers of staircases and platforms where the actors were to stand on gave the stage a sense of depth, intrigue and mystifying quality, almost reminiscent of the locations in the levels of the award winning mobile game Monument Valley.

Vulnerable to rain, the truly unique outdoor experience comes with its challenges part and parcel of the production. Sitting outdoors, amidst nature and rowdy friends while snacking on endless heaps of food, made the entire “open” atmosphere more casual and relaxing, reaffirming that theatre performances are for everyone. The sultry wet weather, as somewhat cooling as it was, made sitting on the mush ground a little uncomfortable. However, this was quickly compensated by the befitting superb and grandeur of the performance that was to follow.

The stage lighting featured prominent colours of red and blue to effectively differentiate between the Montague and Capulet families. It changed with the different scenes of the play, softly lighting the stage during the intimate courting scenes of Romeo and Juliet, and flashing intensely during the fighting scenes, which I felt was well done to complement the emotions of the characters in the play. The acoustics were exceptional too, considering that the play was held in the park and not a theatre, allowing the audience to experience the  sound effects that helped bring out the performance.

Acting wise, many people I’ve asked found it overly exaggerated, however, I felt that it nicely portrayed the personality and age of each character. The uninitiated might not be able to capture the subtleties if the expressive acting was toned down. Therefore the acting might enable them to better understand some of the main themes of the play such as love, loyalty, fate etc. For instance, Juliet’s melodious high pitched voice captured her youthful innocence and naivety, while Romeo’s delivered lines reinforced his passionate, starry eyed love toward Juliet too.

Another aspect of the play that I really appreciated were the directional twists. I must say that there are many arrangements that I never expected to happen. In attempts to modernise the timeless story (which sounds like a contradiction in terms), the Prince of Verona suddenly appeared in a roaring motorcycle, which surprised many.

I feel that I was able to enjoy the film since I read the play prior to watching the production. I could also understand the many intriguing phrases of figurative language. However, after speaking to several of my peers, I found out that quite a handful of people could not appreciate the production as much as I did, especially so when the actors spoke somewhat quickly in Shakespearean English. Though we studied Macbeth, the themes of both plays differ quite greatly, despite knowing Romeo and Juliet as a romantic tragedy, I must admit it was hard to fully understand what was going on, and I had to use the information that I read prior to fill in the gaps of what I could not catch.

Overall, I felt that the play, while true to the original script, was tastefully modernised by the lighting, special effects, stage and costumes. A lovely spectacle; the small modern twist definitely helped to relate more to the audience. Since this timeless classic was written along ago, such complementary visuals and good acting definitely helped convey the overarching themes of unrequited love to audience members far and wide in a night under the stars of Fort Canning. A night for one to remember.

Beatrix Teng

This is what you might have experiences on the dark and rainy night of 18 May 2016 at Fort Canning Park. You see the huge grassy area upon the hill in front of you packed to the brim with people. While a giant stage occupies the bottom of the hill, an audience of more than a thousand fills the rest of the visible green space with their picnic mats and bags of food. Unable to squeeze through the large masses of bodies and belongings wet by the rain, let alone walk along the slippery, moderately steep hill, you find an area to sit on the outskirts of the makeshift theatre hall, all the way at the top and the back waiting for Singapore Repertory Theatre’s production of Romeo & Juliet is about to begin.

The stage at Fort Canning had two walls, with one open side directed at the audience on the grass and the other open side directed at some chairs that were under some shelter. Despite having to perform in front of a large and spread out audience, I think the director did a very good job in ensuring that no matter where the audience was seated, all elements in the play could be seen. The unique stage and setting gave the entire play a more open and three-dimensional appearance, making it feel more engaging. However, with the elaborate set that had many staircases and platforms, some scenes were hard to even notice.

One example would be a scene in the beginning in which the main scene was being acted in the foreground, with another developing scene happening in a dim corner at the top of the set. Even sitting right at the back, with the entire stage directly in my field of vision, I would have failed to notice the couple being particularly affectionate on a high platform in the back without a prompt from my friend to have me look there. With more than one dim corner or platform in the entire set, I do wonder what other subtle scenes I may have missed.

Although dim lighting on the set was a let down in highlighting important aspects of a scene at times, it did play a big role in distinguishing the two families – the Capulets and the Montagues. Especially noticeable in the very beginning was the stage that was divided in half to differentiate between the families: blue lighting on one side and red lighting on the other. Bright white light was also used to illuminate the giant crosses against the two walls of the set when the priest was out.

Other than the giant crosses, another symbolic element in the setting was the massive fissure in the middle of the stage that ran all the way up to the side of the walls. This was to show the separation between the two families. The crack was very artistically detailed, and it conveyed its symbolism perfectly, showing us how the barrier between the two families was more than just simple discomfort or emotional dislike. In fact, it demonstrated the hatred between the two families, a hatred that was almost visceral. The crack, however, interfered with the motion of the actors because they constantly had to jump over it and in one scene, hop across it while on a scooter.

I felt that the acting was over the top. Shakespearean plays are like a series of mountains and valleys – there needs to be some climaxes, as well as paths leading up to and down the peaks. In this particular performance, there was only a cliff. There was a steep and fast progression from when it started to a climax that never seemed to end. There was no balance between the calmer parts and the more exciting parts of the play. The actors were too enthusiastic and tried to make the whole play in every scene, as exciting as possible. Actions, gestures, tones of voice and displays of emotion were heavily exaggerated. Because of this, the whole play became quite boring quite fast because there was no contrast between what was supposed to be mellower and what was to be more intense. In fact, I feel that the talent of the actors was not used to its full potential to convey the beauty of this classic piece of work. The whole play seemed to be in a frenzied state.

At the end, I was rather dissatisfied with Singapore Repertory Theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet. The soundtracks were modern and did not suit the classic story and traditional language of the play. The incongruity was not limited to the music though. I think the costumes also surprised some audience members. In the party scene, guests wore traditional Asian costumes, a very odd choice for a Shakespearean work. In addition, Juliet wore short shorts and clothing that made her look no older than eleven. These production choices did not work. They were distractions that took away from the play.

On the positive side, some of the dramatic maneuvers in this particular production were well done. For example, when young Romeo, without noticeable hesitation or preparation, jumped up and clung onto a grey, brick wall in order to kiss Juliet, I, as well as the audience, gasped with surprise. Not only did it have us on our toes, but it also evoked several euphoric emotions because it was an unquestionably romantic gesture. Another impressive stunt was when one of the actors jumped off a high wall at the back of the stage. There were gasps again from the audience as we were left wondering what happened to the character.

Having just studied Macbeth, the Year 3s watching Romeo & Juliet could better appreciate the play. In having experienced both works, I believe students have gotten a feel of the nature of a typical Shakespearean work. For instance, the crests and troughs of Shakespeare’s plot development is evident in both Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare’s work also possesses complex and beautiful language and word choices. Studying Macbeth has helped us to understand and appreciate the works of Shakespeare in both text and performance. Although it is hard for Shakespeare beginners to take in the full splendor of the language in Romeo and Juliet, I’m sure students can appreciate the intricacies of the script and the effort taken to interpret and deliver the meaning of the text. For me, I must say I admire Shakespearean works – such as Romeo and Juliet – a great deal more now, than before I studied Macbeth.

Tan Qiao Lin

The Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet takes a modernised view of the Shakespearean classic. Set in modern day Singapore, the two warring families, the Montagues and Capulets, are portrayed as rival gangs. Performed against a set of glass and metal, the stage is split in two, showing the divide between the two houses. While the hot and wet weather was unfortunate, it certainly did not dampen the actors’ performance attempts.

With a strong and intense presentation of Romeo’s lines, actor Thomas Pang portrays Romeo as a valiant and passionate young man. Too passionate, perhaps. His overly zealous performance, while fitting at times, are at other times much too dramatic for some scenes, such as the scene where Romeo awaits his fate in Father Lawrence’s cell.

Juliet, played by Cheryl Tan, is presented as an infatuated young girl, bordering on immaturity. Seemingly fitting, since Juliet is supposed to a teenager, she sometimes comes across as whiny and annoying. Although Juliet’s costume changes show her increasing maturity, her childishness still permeates.

Venue-wise, the wet and humid weather made the performance quite uncomfortable. The downward slope of the hill at Fort Canning also caused myself and others to continuously slip forward, so we had to readjust ourselves repeatedly.

The soundscape is unfitting at times, with pop-sounding music bursting onto the play, suddenly and with little contribution to the atmosphere. However, the guitar and piano music pieces were integrated seamlessly into the performance and sets the mood of the scene.

The set was geometrically appealing and framed the stage well. With several storeys, the actors could explore different levels and it created a three-dimensional feel to the performance. The set also included several passageways hidden from the audience’s eye that allowed actors to get to different parts of the stage quickly, and this created the seamless transitions that were a constant throughout the play.

The fighting scenes were also smoothly and realistically carried out. From one-to-one brawls, knife fighting and even shooting a gun, the scenes were effortlessly performed and kept the audience on the edge of their seats (or their butts, since we were all seated on the ground).

I felt that the idea of an Asian culture in SRT’s version of Romeo and Juliet was a moot point, since the only scene with Asian influences was the party scene, which looked quite out of place when the partygoers wore traditional Thai-looking clothing but danced to pop music. Other than this scene, there were no other references to a Singaporean or Asian culture, and I initially thought that the play was just a generically modernised version of Romeo and Juliet, and not a modernised Asian or Singaporean version.

I also thought that there was too much emphasis placed on the sexual relationship between Romeo and Juliet. There were copious amount of affectionate display. It does perhaps show the passion between the two lovers and also hints towards infatuation and sexual desire instead of a more mature form of love between the two. However, it seemed that the kissing scenes were gratuitous for they hardly nudged the development of the play forward.

I think that watching this performance of Romeo and Juliet might not be suitable for those who did not know the story of Romeo and Juliet. The lines were delivered in Shakespearean language and might pose difficulty for those unfamiliar with such language. As the play was modernise, this production might not provide a sense of how Shakespearean plays are typically staged.

However, since I’ve read the play before, I could understand it to a certain extent. Even if the length of the play was a little long, I think that it was an interesting experience as this was my first time watching a full play, much less a Shakespearean one.

In conclusion, I feel that this production does not fully balance the original Shakespearean text with a modern Asian culture. However, it redeemed itself a little with the attractive stage setting as well as the realistic fighting scenes. Overall, I felt that it was a mediocre performance that, to me, was just a pleasant experience as a non-theatregoer.


Where Art Meets Poetry

Herein Lies, SOTA Gallery

Curated by the Year 5 & 6 Visual Art International Baccalaureate Career-Related Certificate Programme (IBCP) students at the SOTA Gallery, Herein Lies explores darkness as environment and state of mind, engaging with its formlessness and ambiguity.

The assembled works orchestrate a seemingly arbitrary yet lucid conversation amongst themselves, and with us. Actions, sounds, what little we can touch or see, converge and are disembodied, revealing a whole new dimension of narratives.*

Year 3 students from O2 visited the exhibit and responded to the works with an original poem. At the exhibit, the students were to see, think, and wonder and consider how they can make use of structure and poetic devices to better reflect their response to the artworks. In being able to article the choices made, students gained a deeper understanding about the deliberation that goes into poetic craft.

Herein Lies Art Meets Poetry 5

Herein Lies Art Meets Poetry 4

Herein Lies Art Meets Poetry 1

Here are some poems by O2:

Expectations by Oliver Chua

A contraption
Of paper, board and string.
Waiting for one to observe it,
Play with it,
Find out how it works.

A ball and a cradle,
A string to hoist
The ball to the funnel which
Directs to a tunnel.
Taunting one to pull the cable.

One expects the sound of rolling,
The swishing of the speeding ball.
The friction against the cardboard,
Then waiting for a fall,
For the impact.

But instead
A disappointment.

A photo’s secret by Joanne Teo

black, a mono coloured
face, hidden in the
fortress of a smooth envelope. Finally
exposed to the red that brings out
his stained hands. Held
firmly by force,
placed into tests of
secret formula. slowly,
it uncovers, like a monochrome flower blooming
without light.


Subtle but honest.

On The Walls by Foo Ching Wen

On the walls,
[The stubborn ones with]
[strong intermolecular forces]
[will not give in nor]
[bend down no matter]
[how much you push them.]
[They will stay as rigid.]

On the walls,
(The sad ones must be)
(handled with care. One/
(push and they will/
(lose the will(
(to return to their\
(original state like before.)

On the walls,
{The happy ones will}
{accommodate to everyone}
{else. They welcome}
{everyone with a smile.}
On the walls, {they} {shine} {the} {brightest.}

Wander, Wonder by Bianca Renee Bautista

In the dark
Deep in thought
Looking for that monster
I once fought

It wanders
I wonder

For years
And years
And years

In these dark curtains
In my right ear

you will never get over me

It wanders
I wonder

The darkness around
Like ghosts
On the surface of my skin
Absolutely thin

Muffled voices
Trying to reach me
In the middle
Trying to reach them

It wanders
I wonder

They will never be reached
As I am stuck
In the middle
Of wondering

It wanders
I wonder

Child’s Play by Leeah Betts

See though
Running through the wind
Playing hide and seek
Being a child
Just flowing about
Through the wind
Soft like a pillow
But hard like a wall
Let your Imagination
Run free


Bring me back to when I was a

a tactile work by Sarah Shahbal Tan Chin

Sarah Shahbal Tan Chin

Herein Lies Art Meets Poetry 3 Herein Lies Art Meets Poetry 2

*Excerpt from exhibition programme.

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