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.

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2018 LitPerf Showcase - Pawn 2

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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.

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

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

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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.

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2018 LitPerf Showcase - Applause 2

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sculpture by Dorothy Yuan (O7)

A response to The Guitarist Tunes Up by Frances Darwin Cornford

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Illustration by Nigel Low (O5)

A response to Long Distance II by Tony Harrison

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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.

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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 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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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