Review: Dramafest 2013

By Jeremy Khoo and Austin Zheng (14A01B)

Prelude

Hour after hour after hour of rehearsal, day after day of sleepless nights, and weeks of sheer hard work will culminate in a short 25-minute play. Over two performances, the blood, toil, sweat and tears of all involved will come to fruition in what promises to be a spectacular five-play series.

So, naturally, we greet the plays with a healthy dose of cynicism.

It is 7.30 p.m. on Friday night, and the seats are almost completely sold out, with entire rows occupied by classes and OGs. The audience is abuzz with chatter as orchestral music reverberates through the PAC. Each year, Dramafest is one of the most eagerly anticipated house events. All participants invest prodigious amounts of time and energy in rehearsing and refining their performances.

Derrick Tang, ebinabation, brushwork and makeup on canvas, 1 x 2 cm
Derrick Tang, ebinabation, brushwork and makeup on canvas, 1 x 2 cm

 

The day before Dramafest, the PAC and the classrooms above are bustling with activity as all five Houses put the finishing touches on their preparations for the full dress rehearsal. The atmosphere of each room differs with their occupant Houses, ranging from BW’s joviality to HH’s tension to BB’s exhaustion.

Many of the actors and costume crewmembers were engrossed in applying their makeup when we stopped by. The costumes were top-notch, notably BW’s clown-like, colourful costumes and makeup, and MT’s imposing gold- and silver- painted apparitions.

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Cast and crew members alike half-smile as they describe just how much time and effort they put in. They have invested at least seven hours every weekday over the course of three weeks, usually ending their preparations at 10 or 11 each night. The intensity of Dramafest is stunning, and we cannot but respect the cast and crew members for their dedication. Some participants handle their considerable workload by making compromises on which pieces of work get done, asking for extensions, adjusting their sleep cycles to do some work before going to school, and/or make use of lecture/tutorial time to catch up. Others just give up on schoolwork for a while.

We attend the Friday performance, which, in a break with tradition, happens to be judging night. How does each play fare? Read on to find out!

Plays

A few brief words before we begin.

Although each play was written independently, dystopia was a common leitmotif this year, spanning four of the five plays. It is interesting to consider these four different treatments of dystopia in terms of how original their approaches were. Better plays brought fresh insight to the idea of dystopia while others merely borrowed from the existing cultural consciousness — among these latter plays, elements of George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, as well as more contemporary works like Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series, are evident.

Without further ado:

Buckle-Buckley: Therapy

therapy

Synopsis:
Therapy features three terminally ill women at a group therapy session with their doctor. The audience is shown how their illnesses have affected their lives — the careerist Claire loses her promotion, loyal wife Joan grows apart from her husband, and Rachel struggles with how to explain her imminent demise to her young children. As the tension rises, they begin to lash out at each other. Then, the arrival of another terminal patient – the Kid – begins to change their minds. Rachel bonds with the child and begins to accept her fate and think about how to talk to her children. Joan picks up the phone and finds that her husband has not in fact abandoned her. With the encouragement of Rachel and Joan, Claire comes out of denial and finally begins to face death with equanimity as the curtains come down.

Therapy is polished, elegant and astutely directed. Well-written dialogue makes the script coherent and cohesive. It never degenerates into hysterics, instead emphasizing the psychological dimensions of the play. It manages to deal with the anguish of imminent death without lapsing into melodrama, which is no mean feat given the thin line between a moving portrayal of grief and a farcical display of hysteria. This play is obviously unafraid to take on complex themes — in three end-of-life confessions, the audience is given an unflinching look at weakness before the spectre of death. Guilt, religion and madness all come under the spotlight in moving scenes of anguish.

Woon Xin Hui is the lynchpin of the play as the doctor with a plastic smile who sets the scene for the three terminally ill characters to deal with their problems. She is unflappable in the face of the unwillingness of her patients to open up, persuading, threatening and cajoling in turn — all the while with the semblance of a smile plastered on her face. Her presence both intensifies the already palpable tension and provides an avenue for its relief through laughter. All of this plays a critical role in convincing the audience that they are indeed observing a group therapy session, which allows us to take in the expository ‘sharing’ scenes in a spirit of quietude and sympathy. Hence, Xin Hui’s performance holds together a play that might have otherwise been fragmented by the alternating points of view, and her masterful performance qualifies her, in our view, as one of the best thespians of the night.

Ong Miao Ling, Emily Eng and Louise Marie Lee also deserve commendation for their portrayals of terminally ill patients Joan, Rachel and Claire. Despite the difficulty of portraying a character who is grieving — especially one that is grieving for herself — the three main characters rise to the occasion with a nuanced performance. Emily’s Rachel is particularly impressive, with an impassioned, distraught plea to what gods may be that underscores the desperation of the character. Our only complaint is that some slight variations in pauses before speeches and in their emphases would have brought their performance to another level.

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The main cast is rounded off by the Kid, played by Lawrence Ora. Entering at the height of the argument between Joan, Rachel and Claire, he quickly asserts his presence on the stage. While the Kid, being implausibly sagacious for an eight-year-old, can be seen as more contrivance than character, Lawrence’s portrayal is masterful and renders the scene believable and indeed fairly poignant. Lawrence and Emily have an intense, touching chemistry in their interactions as a child and a mother, and while ultimately we have to acknowledge that the Kid is also a device of the plot, no great suspension of disbelief is required to believe that the conversation with the Kid does make things a lot clearer for Rachel.

mother and child — mother of another child, child of another mother
mother and child — mother of another child, child of another mother

In terms of staging, BB deserves some mention for their minimalist approach. Every piece of furniture on the stage has its purpose, an approach those Houses with more complex, static sets could learn from — the uncluttered stage helps to focus the audience’s attention on the plot and the characters. We also liked the way the lighting was done in the last scene, where Claire steps into the spotlight from an area in shadow as she begins to face reality.

This play is clearly not as ambitious as some others, but neither is it unambitious. Indeed, it is extraordinarily successful in doing what it sets out to do, especially compared with other plays which were more grandly conceived but were not as meticulously executed. The script is well crafted and the actors put in an understated performance that managed to do it justice. Although one of us is more impressed with this play than the other, we concur that it is a play that tackles solemn themes with maturity.

Morrison-Richardson: The Consequences of Feeling

The Consequences of Feeling's dictatorial schooling regime

Synopsis:

The Consequences of Feeling takes place in a dystopian, futuristic society which deems emotions inefficient and surgically rids everybody of their feelings — a process known as Cardiac Demotification — the moment they turn 18. Alethea, who is nearly eighteen, begins to suspect that Demotification is not the beneficent surgery it is made out to be by society after she sees the effect it has on her friends Preston and Polly. Her suspicions are only reinforced by a chance encounter with an injured stranger, who instructs her not to let herself undergo Demotification. After attempting to reconnect with her Demotificated friend Polly by hugging her, Alethea is arrested for the display of emotion and forcibly brought to the surgery table, where she accidentally kills Polly as she escapes. Alethea meets and hugs another girl, advising her to beware of the Demotification process, as the play draws to a close, mirroring Alethea’s own earlier encounter with the stranger.

The plot pales into cliché remarkably quickly, drawing the lines of conflict by rehashing the story of idealistic rebellion against a ‘rational’ society that denounces emotion and surgically alters hearts in a process known as Cardiac Demotification to rid people of their emotions (we suppose that was intended metaphorically). All-too-familiar lines about the value of being an individual are dredged up from the land of cliché. The golden rule of drama — show, not tell — is abandoned. There is an attempt to lend the play verisimilitude by emulating Orwellian Newspeak, but the playwright fails to recognize that the key to Newspeak is euphemism — not mere synonymic replacement or loquaciousness. Some moments that were obviously intended to be serious are instead farcical, in particular the protagonist Alethea’s uncalled-for cry of “Who am I?” The play fails to grip or engage the audience, and soon its climax has passed and the curtains are falling. On the whole, the script exemplifies a jejune and unoriginal treatment of the subject matter.

The acting in a few scenes is particularly maladroit. Alethea’s halfhearted struggle against Demotification is obviously feigned. When Polly dies, Alethea’s shock at accidentally stabbing her friend is completely underwhelming — in fact, Alethea seemed more shocked at Preston’s unemotional response than at the killing itself. The sequence in which the audience is told about Demotification is gratuitously lengthy, and to make things worse, at one point every spoken phrase was accompanied by arbitrary and sometimes clumsy actions in a histrionically overacted sequence. Overall, the scenes seemed yoked together, giving the play a fragmented feel.

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In terms of staging, this play clearly reflects a lack of polish. The acting is subpar and unconvincing — most egregiously, the propagandist schoolteacher spends the entire play speaking in an incomprehensible accent and mangles her lines on more than one occasion. Generally speaking, energy levels on stage were at a constant, unexciting ebb and actors had no physical presence. In particular, the directorial choice of allowing stagehands onstage to change scenes without dimming the lights is inexplicable.

The few bright spots are the intelligent use of lights and sounds — particularly the scene in which technical effects give the impression that the action is taking place heartbeat by heartbeat — and the scene in which Alethea attempts to hug Pauline, which shows Alethea’s vulnerability and awkwardness in dealing with her emotions, creating an atmosphere that is simultaneously touching and tense.

Ultimately, with an uninspired cast, a weak script and only well-executed technical direction to distinguish it, The Consequences of Feeling ranks as passable but eminently forgettable.

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Hadley-Hullett: Whatcha Say

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Synopsis:

Whatcha Say features a disease that forces people to tell the truth and its effect on the introverted lawyer Bob’s life. The play starts with the disease compelling the usually silent Bob to speak up at a meeting and point out a discrepancy in a suspect’s testimony, earning himself a promotion. However, the disease also causes a rift in his relationship when it forces his honest opinions about his wife out of him. To make things worse, when Bob’s law firm presses a case against the government to make treating the disease mandatory for all, Bob fails to argue convincingly against the governor at the first hearing. Fortunately, a later conversation with his wife patches up their relationship and reveals that the disease does not in fact compel people to tell the truth, but whatever first comes to their mind. He then confidently overwhelms the blustering governor, who lets slip that he had intended to exploit the disease’s loophole. Despite his victory, Bob ultimately reflects that society is not truly better off without the disease during the final scene.

This play starts off promisingly, with the introduction montage telling us of a disease that makes everyone tell the truth, but quickly devolves into slapstick, lowest-common-denominator humour. This skit-comedy may have the audience roaring with laughter, but it accomplishes little else. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with low comedy, but it is another matter entirely when the entire play exists solely to exploit crude forms of humour for cheap laughs, as this one does. Boobs, armpit odour, bitchy mother in laws and do-I-look-fat-in-this-dress are all played for laughs at some point — nothing is too trite or too crass for this script. By the third scene of mass chaos on stage, the farce gets more than a little grating.

Unfortunately, the problems with this script go beyond that. The legal system in the world of this play is never explained, which is a major problem given that a crucial plot point revolves around it. To wit, the central conflict of the play involves one lawyer filing a ‘petition’ that has the extraordinary legal power of forcing the unwilling government to eradicate the disease, which is then ‘heard’ during a ‘public discourse’, where ‘the governor’ contests it — the mind boggles. We are told that the main character is cripplingly shy — something that is never actually apparent. The climax of the play, while not badly written, is still essentially two characters expositing and is not well crafted enough to hold the audience’s attention. Finally, the protagonist only triumphs because of a fortunate eleventh-hour discovery, which causes the antagonist to blurt out his devious plan. While in this instance the cliché is actually justified because the governor has the disease, the fact that it is an overused, unrealistic trope is undeniable.

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Most damningly, there is no emotional or intellectual resonance at all in this play; beyond cheap laughs, the play rings hollow in this aspect, neither touching nor disturbing the audience, though it evidently attempts to do so. If anything, there is a ringing intellectual dissonance. The revelation of the true nature of the disease — making people say whatever comes to mind instead of what they truly think — undermines the protagonist’s final statement that things are not better without the disease.

The plot is mired in what Hitchcock termed ‘fridge logic’ — a serious logical inconsistency that is not immediately apparent but becomes obvious upon further thought. Once we find out that the disease doesn’t actually make people tell the truth, the plot begins to come apart at the seams. The disease doesn’t actually have any significant impact on society because people can still lie — it’s just that they will have to relearn the art of lying convincingly. No longer is there a clash between a society built on lies and another built on the truth; the old way of lying has merely been replaced with a new one. The effort to portray the conflict as the former when the plot depends upon the revelation of the latter thus falls flat on its face. We are forced to conclude that this play is Twelve Angry Men writ mediocre — with all of the words and arguments but none of the emotional pull or compelling plot.

The staging is choppy and largely unimaginative. With few exceptions, every article of clothing that appears onstage is black and every actor has some combination of a blazer, a shirt and long pants on. They are supposed to be lawyers, yes — but it is not just the colour but also the form of the sartorial choices that seem uninspired. Furthermore. there are far too many scene changes, which disrupt the already-lacking momentum of the production. We did, however, like their idea of throwing a banner back and forth over the backdrop in order to change scenes.

clearly the costumes i/c is a hullettian though and through
clearly the costumes i/c is a Hullettian though and through

The inspired acting is the only thing that brings a measure of quality to the production. Lee Chin Wee’s performance as the protagonist Bob is this play’s saving grace. He gives a realistic portrayal of his character, trying to come across as lacking in confidence, stressed, awkward and tense. The supporting characters are scripted in a flat and hollow manner, but for what they have to work with, the actors portray their characters as best they can.

Unfortunately, even the skill of the actors fails to rescue this production. They do a good job, but ultimately they are unable to escape the mediocre scripting and directing that ties them down. There is simply no depth to any of the inhabitants of the world of this play, and hence no room for the audience to identify with the characters and be involved in the play. The premise was original and the actors clearly dedicated, but the production suffered for its flawed realization on paper, and so we have what is at best a queerly average play.


Bayley-Waddle: Ebinabation

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Synopsis:

Ebinabation is set in a futuristic dystopia where people’s lives are dictated from birth. The play starts with the Principal implanting embryos into boxes, which become fully-fledged children overnight. There are four children in total — Jill, Steve, Mary and Ebinabation (who is swiftly renamed Tom by the Principal). Jill, Steve and Mary are assigned random personalities, but Ebinabation remains true to his quirky nature. He shows his rebellious nature by piping up inappropriately, meddling with things or attempting to sneak off. One night, Ebinabation leaves his room and is shocked to discover an entire cupboard of fetuses. The Principal arrives and inform him that Ebinabations are unique beings that have the power to control the entire breeding system, with only one Ebinabation in each era. Refusing to cede control, she then reprograms Ebinabation, turning him into a mindless Tom in the last scene of the play.

BW’s play has little that is new or refreshing to offer, instead reviving tired clichés from dystopic science-fiction stories and elsewhere. In particular, the idea of children being born in laboratories, assigned traits and then occupations to maximize their utility, central to the world and plot of this play, is taken nearly wholesale from Brave New World. The Principal is a typical villain, right down to the Cruella-esque dressing and manner, while titular character Ebinabation is scripted as little more than a curious child. The attempts at humour are largely hit-and-miss; some lines draw uproarious laughter from the crowd while other less punchy lines fall flat. Toward the later part of the play, these begin to founder as the lines become less and less funny, making certain scenes grating and irritating to sit through.

The central problem with this play is focus. The audience’s attention is continually diverted to things of at best peripheral importance, leaving the key thematic concern of identity neglected and undeveloped. There is a remarkable amount of time devoted to prancing about the stage, which does nothing for the play besides drawing a few laughs. Both the protagonist and antagonist are scripted into oddly passive roles that are insufficient to develop the conflict to any significant extent. In stereotypically villainous fashion, the Principal actually gives a rambling, melodramatic explication of her motives at the climax of the play.

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Lim Wei Khai’s Ebinabation is a lively, curious character that is convincing as a child, but the rest of the cast disappoints with an overacted performance. In particular, Lim Yi Yong’s awkward accent distracts from his delivery in his performance as Steve, blunting the impact of some of his more jocose lines. Unfortunately, Ebinabation gets far too little stage time — while several bits of physical theatre were genuinely enjoyable, most of the time Wei Khai does not get enough space or energy to assert his character’s presence. Hence, his portrayal of Ebinabation’s adventurous and enthusiastic nature is dulled by the way in which the play was put together, and the result is that we see Ebinabation going along with the flow of the play rather than controlling it.

While the first two-thirds of the play are evidently meant to subtly disturb the audience through a portrayal of the flashy but hollow nature of the supporting characters, that is accomplished at the expense of greater clarity about the important questions the playwrights evidently wanted to raise, and the play as a whole thus appeared confused and uncertain. After the curtains have closed, the question that really bears asking is, “What was the point of all that?”, and Ebinabation provides no clear answer.

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However, BW does manage to distinguish itself in terms of the staging of Ebinabation. Their outrageous, vivid costumes bring colour to the stage, while the four black boxes that are used as props made a stark contrast with the cast’s costumes, perhaps reflecting that for all their larger-than-life personalities, the supporting characters are ultimately artificially constructed entities. The use of lights and sound was also good, successfully heightening the audience’s shock in certain scenes.

This play is very ambitious in its scope and attempts to raise many thought-provoking questions, but it doesn’t quite manage to do itself justice. A mediocre script, uneven acting and unfocused direction render Ebinabation very much a work in progress. This play is not exactly bad, but there is a lingering sense that it could have been much better.

 

Moor-Tarbet: Unfinished

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Synopsis:
Unfinished follows siblings Chris and Lisa as they break into the Poet’s house, seeking to discover the truth behind the Poet and disprove his alleged causal relation to the Monday Mass Meetings. As supernatural apparitions invisible to the duo recite ominous verses, the siblings reveal that the Poet was a deceased critic of their fear-stricken, superstitious society through their quarrel. After a series of frightening and inexplicable events, Lisa is scared into fleeing the house. Chris remains behind and meets the ghost of the Poet, who gives him the task of completing his last, unfinished poem. However, tipped off by Lisa’s flight from the house, policemen enter and arrest Chris for his seditious acts. As the head detective reaffirms a common societal commitment to the Monday Mass Meetings, the portrait of the Poet on the wall falls, revealing a bloody inscription of the word ‘UNFINISHED’.

MT’s Unfinished is an unprecedented foray into a genre unexplored in at least a decade of Dramafests — horror. As director Shrey Bhargava is an experienced and highly talented member of Raffles Players, and a veteran of many Dramafests — both here and on the Y1-4 side of the school — this play is highly anticipated. He does not fail to live up to expectations, avoiding the pitfalls of cheap, numbing terror that characterizes B-grade horror movies. Instead, Unfinished relies on suspense instead of visceral imagery to keep the audience engaged and drive the plot forward.

to the gallows we will go
to the gallows we will go

The idea of a moving three-person ensemble invisible to the main characters is perhaps this script’s finest offering. Their lines are written entirely in verse, an elegant and poetic idea unfortunately let down slightly by writing of uneven quality. As a result, not all their lines are completely comprehensible, but then they need not be; the ensemble are there not to make a point, but to help to heighten the atmosphere. The set complements them beautifully — a professionally designed Gothic backdrop is melded with dilapidated furniture to create just the menacing atmosphere that is called for. As the play proceeds, our marvel at the ingenuity of the crew only increases — they manage to make cupboards open, rocking chairs sway and picture frames drop without any apparent cause, and somehow manage to sneak an actor into a cupboard previously shown to be empty without anyone noticing. The lights were well used and created an ominous, shadowy effect; however, the sound was at times too loud, occasionally drowning out the actors.

The acting of the main characters is brilliant, with Ejaz Latiff and Ruthanne Soh’s brother-sister duo as well as Yash Nair’s gold-covered giant of a statue-apparition having excellent physical and vocal presence. Ejaz, RI’s first Drama DSA student in more than a decade, is exceptional in his role, portraying with conviction protagonist Chris’ attempt to stand firm against his fear of the unknown. Unfortunately, most of the supporting characters are not quite as accomplished. The silver statue-apparitions move confidently about the stage but are not clearly audible at certain points, while the suited detectives move awkwardly and have inadequate stage presence. Indeed, the detectives fail to be convincingly menacing in their roles, instead coming across as playground bullies. Nevertheless, the overall result is gripping, sending shivers down our spines and keeping us on the edge of our seats.

poet/puppeteer
poet/puppeteer

The weakest point of the play is during the penultimate scene, when the authorities arrive to arrest Chris for breaking curfew after the poet has been dragged away by the apparitions. The scene contains too much exposition and drags on for too long, and after a certain point the tension dissipates and some of the play’s energy is lost. All of this detracts from the intended effect of making Chris’ arrest mirror the poet’s removal from the stage. It would have been significantly better if the scene was shortened.

Unfinished does manage to rise above mere emotional manipulation to convey a deeper message. The depiction of society as even more horrific and depraved than the supernatural itself provides a deeper, intellectual dimension to the play, and underlines the point that horror can also be used to criticise society and human nature. We are ultimately disgusted by the corrupt police and of the fear-stricken, superstitious society, and dread the society the poet’s ghost is raging against more than the ghost itself. Chris’ insistence on staying in the haunted house to seek out the truth becomes an understandable and sympathetic cause.

this be the verse
this be the verse

However, prior to the penultimate scene, the entirety of our knowledge about the larger society and Chris’ motives comes from the dialogue between Chris and Lisa. It is to the script’s credit that it does not resort to lengthy exposition to convey information to the audience, but at the same time our understanding of the society Chris and Lisa live in is incomplete. We can’t quite grasp why Chris is so insistent in his quest despite his obvious fear until the denouement of the play, and the play would have been even better had Chris’ motivations been clearer.

Ultimately, Unfinished is an outstanding play. Its weaknesses do not detract severely from the overall quality of the production, and in terms of pushing the envelope Unfinished also throws down the gauntlet for experiments with less conventional genres in future Dramafests. It will be interesting to see where it stands in comparison with the 2012 Raffles Players’ Nightfall production, featuring dramatic adaptations of four of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, which is due to start showing next week.

unf_n_shed
unf_n_shed


 

Judging

Official Results:

Best Actor: EJAZ LATIFF as CHRIS in UNFINISHED

Best Actress: RAE TEO as JILL in EBINABATION

Best Cast: BAYLEY-WADDLE for EBINABATION

Best Director: SHREY BHARGAVA for UNFINISHED

Best Script: HADLEY-HULLET for WHATCHA SAY

Best Set: MOOR-TARBET for UNFINISHED

Best Play: BAYLEY-WADDLE for EBINABATION

By the time the results came in on Saturday night, we had already written the large part of our reviews. As you will probably have realised, our opinions differ from the judges’ in several ways. While the awards that Unfinished received were no surprise to us, we were fairly surprised that the judges named Whatcha Say the production with the best script and that Ebinabation received quite a few awards while Therapy was snubbed. Just as the people who believed Lincoln should have beaten Argo at the Oscars will not have changed their mind despite the latter’s victory, we stand by our opinions.

In Conclusion

Student theatre is often derided as immature, unprofessional and in general not worth watching, especially when one has to pay for the privilege. We would beg to differ: many a Dramafest production has seen talented, passionate and dedicated individuals come together to put on remarkable plays. While there were plays that lived up to the lofty tradition of dramatic excellence within the Institution and plays that fell short of it, Dramafest has ultimately proved time and again that student theatre can be quality theatre.

That being said, we are aware of the effort put in by the production team of every house, and we are also proud to acknowledge the dedication required to see a production through from start to finish. We are certain that the most valuable part of each Dramafest participant’s experience was not who won or lost, but the late nights, exhausting hours and friendships formed and strengthened over the course of the past three weeks.

Shrey supplies a fitting quote for us to conclude with: “For me, it’s not about the competition. I just want to create a great play… I’ve been participating in Dramafest for four years, but this time, it’s special because this is the first time we’re trying out a new genre.”

“As long as there are screams in the crowd, I’m happy!”

Authors’ note:

Photographs courtesy of Michael Leong from Raffles Photography.

We welcome all opinions, dissenting or otherwise, and would like to invite our readers to criticise the plays we commended, defend those we did not, or simply add on to our article. We may not agree with all comments, or have time to respond to them, but we will certainly read them with interest.

 

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CORRECTION: We stated that Ejaz Latiff is RI’s “first Drama DSA student in more than a decade”. This is inaccurate. He appealed into RI for Drama; he did not get in through Direct School Admission.

23 thoughts on “Review: Dramafest 2013”

  1. I find the authors’ bias against HH to be highly unprofessional and evident to the point of disbelief. While readers may regard this author’s review as merely a rather opinionated evaluation, it is likely that they will squirm a little uncomfortably in their seats at his scathing diatribe on HH’s play. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but there comes a point when the author leans too much towards one side of the fence that he runs the risk of falling over and breaking his nose. There is virtually no balance whatsoever in his vicious tirade, incessantly castigating the fairly “flat” parts, while undermining any sort of credit accorded to HH’s script. HH’s set up is denounced as “uninspired” and “unimaginative”, whereas funnily enough, BB’s similar approach is lauded for its minimalism. While the author may jump to point out the differences between both plays, one is likely to raise an eyebrow at the complete disparity in reactions towards two similarly well-planned and purposefully executed sets. The other eyebrow may join in as well, as the reader reads on wide-eyed with astonishment, as words dripped with negativity are hurled left, right and centre at the play. Criticism that even the most hardened critics would deign to cast upon professional scriptwriters, let alone burgeoning and developing talented young school children participating in a house competition meant for “friendships formed and strengthened”. With such unqualified, superlative and one-sided writing, this reader sincerely worries for the author’s upcoming GP essay test in a few weeks’ time.

    I also find it extremely ironic that the judges’ eventual decision to award the best script prize to HH is a polar opposite of the author’s feelings about the play. While the author may hurriedly refer to popular culture to gloss over his embarrassing faux pas, this reader feels that that may not suffice. Even if we were to disregard the judges’ immense experience in theatre studies, which likely renders their decision a certain degree of reliability and authenticity, the discrepancy between the amateur verdict and the actual verdict is so overwhelmingly contrasting that one cannot help but to crack a wry smile and shake his head. Certainly that is what I am doing. No authors, it is not just a case of discussing the true victor between Lincoln and Argo, where both movies were so good and difficult to distinguish. At the very least, both films were nominated and stood a chance in winning the award. With my dying breath, I can bet that HH’s script would not even be in the running for best script in your view, let alone winning it, and deservedly so. At this point, one might start to see as I do, and entertain the possibility that the insidious adversary of critics worldwide – bias – has well and truly seeped into this review. Where the source of this bias may stem from, I do not know. It may be an inherent phobia of the subject matter of a truth-telling disease, or a snub from the HH production team when asked to partake in this school event – It is all but speculation. But at the very least, please inject some objectivity into your review, and do not attempt to exhibit mock-impartiality under the guise of the platitude, “I like the banners”.

    1. Not to mention nitpicking with ridiculous comments like “They are supposed to be lawyers, yes — but it is not just the colour but also the form of the sartorial choices that seem uninspired.”

      Sartorial? Really? I would like to see lawyers in a hawaiian coconut palm tree wing-tip collared shirt with hot pink pleated pants.

    2. See: RI Dramafeste 2012.

      Maybe the author of the comment would like to get off his/her high horse and consider his/her own bias. Shaking one’s head in mirth and derision does little to justify a point or contribute to a healthy debate, and only serves to make one’s disregard and disrespect for the article painfully obvious. Perhaps a more balanced and fairer review (see: original article, and it’s praise of the actors and ideas behind the play) might do more to sway readers.

    3. Hi, thank you for your comments. I would highly appreciate it if you could tell us what exactly you like about HH’s play and script rather than vaguely lambasting the review for being overly negative. A constructive discussion cannot take place otherwise.

      Furthermore, I would like to point out that while we criticized HH’s costumes as overly monotonous, we made no mention of their set. Being minimalist and being mundane are two different things; could the supporting actors at least have worn costumes of other colours?

      1. Unrelated to this thread but a valid question imo – could Austin and Jeremy kindly reveal their theatre expertise? If you don’t have any solid theatre experience, perhaps you shouldn’t be writing a critique. Call it an amateurish opinion instead.

    4. Hi,

      Thank for your comments! I would appreciate it if you actually point out, specifically, what you disagree with in our review of HH’s play and what aspects of their play or script you think are good. Thus far, you merely vaguely lambasted the review for being overly negative and biased without any substantive comments, and even used unnecessary and unwarranted ad hominem accusations, which really doesn’t help in having a constructive discussion about the review.

      Do note, however, that we criticized HH’s monotonous costumes, not their set. We felt that it was unnecessary and boring for all the characters – even the supporting characters – in the play to wear black, and that costume choices could have been more varied.

      For all your condemnation of our review, we stick by it. I feel that HH’s script was subpar, overusing crude humour and even featuring a massive plothole. The acting, as we have already mentioned, was brilliant, particularly for what the actors had to work with, but it could not quite cover up the weak script. I am frankly unable to find a coherent alternative perspective arguing that HH’s script was, in fact, great.

      We are very puzzled by the judges’ decision to award HH ‘Best Script’, but we do maintain our position that HH’s script is not a good one. I feel that the judges could have awarded HH ‘Best Script’ over the likes of, say, BB and MT because the latter two plays cannot be fully visualized from their scripts.

      BB, as we have mentioned in the review, walked a thin line between mature discussion of the issue and melodrama, and while we feel that their play has managed to portray the issue well, their script might have seemed like melodrama on paper. Much of MT’s play lay in the mood and atmosphere, something that might not have been fully captured in the script.

      All this is retrospective speculation, of course, and is no way indicative of Jeremy’s or the judges’ view on the matter. A passing comment: when we asked a HH actor about why he thought HH won best script, he raised the possibility that the judges considered other factors, like HH coming runners-up in several other categories. This is also speculation, naturally.

      I would also like to point out that the judges are not as experienced as you might think. Mrs Perry’s credentials are impressive, but the other judges included an RI music teacher and a J3, so I don’t think that the judges’ comments and decisions are any more valid based on the fact that they were judges alone.

      As a final note, we implore all future comments to avoid using ad hominem attacks, which usually only illustrate the author’s inability to make substantive arguments against the content itself. It is highly inadvisable to resort to such gimmicks in GP essay tests.

      I await your response with interest.

      1. “I would also like to point out that the judges are not as experienced as you might think. Mrs Perry’s credentials are impressive, but the other judges included an RI music teacher and a J3, so I don’t think that the judges’ comments and decisions are any more valid based on the fact that they were judges alone.”

        I don’t think you should be so dismissive about the credentials of the other two judges. The J3 that you are speaking of, was not only the chair of Raffles Players, but an extremely talented actress. Furthermore, while the RI music teacher does not necessarily have a theatre background per se, he represents the average theatre-goer, and his views are useful in determining general audience reception towards the play. To completely disregard his comments about the play would be a huge oversight on the author’s part.

        I would like to question the writer’s credentials in terms of theatre, on which his skepticism towards the judges decision is clearly based.

  2. The bias evident in this review is very regrettable and speaks volumes about Raffles Press’ lack of credibility and professionalism. Why was Jeremy Khoo allowed to contribute to this review in the first place, considering that he tried out for HH’s production, was rejected and subsequently caused many problems for HH’s DF team? Doesn’t the Press exco have the good sense to check whether their student journalists have any vested interests or agendas before they decide who’s going to write a review or article?

    Jeremy Khoo clearly had an agenda and I don’t think he’s entirely to blame here – he is free to hold his crazy opinions and foist them on the public using whatever avenue he can get his hands on. The real problem is Press’ decision to allow his biased article to masquerade as an objective review.

    Another aspect which I feel was problematic about this review was the lack of acknowledgement of the effort put in. These houses put up 5 plays in TWO WEEKS. Two. Weeks. My friends in Players tell me they usually have about TWO MONTHS to stage their own productions. It is really rude to dismiss their immense effort as merely “late nights, exhausting hours and friendships formed and strengthened”. Two weeks is NOT enough to put up a production and these houses deserve credit for merely getting their stuff together in this extremely unrealistic time frame.

  3. As much as the author has his strong views over HH’s script and production, I would like to respond to one of the author’s comments previously by actually stating what I loved – loved, not liked – about HH’s play.

    Before we start there is something essential that I feel the authors are missing out. Not all audience members are theatre buffs, and that theatre to them is a performance that they can feel a roller coaster for emotions for. That’s a drama after all. Drama is meant to be performed and watched. Not graded and judged. I think many would agree with me.

    1) I loved how HH had set up the problem clearly within the first scene of the play – the disease that makes people speak their mind. I found that this was sorely lacking in some other plays that the author didn’t point out in his strong review (although I must stress that I thoroughly enjoyed all plays, being an audience member on Friday night). This allowed the audience to have a simple understanding of the play’s central issue before the plot was developed.

    2) I loved how HH’s play was a breath of fresh air from the usual depressing verbatim of other plays. After being subjected to the horrors of demotification, depression, and personal struggle, the laughs the audience felt during HH’s play was unique and welcome. As much as the author may not find coarse humour a proper form of humour, I’d like to point out that this humour reaches out to majority of audiences (yes, truth hurts) today. Theatre is about the audience after all.

    3) I loved HH’s scene changes. It was a creative move away from the usual blackout-scene change that amateur directors usually follow. The wash created silhouettes of the movements on stage – something not attempted by other houses. These movements of stage hands and actors alike gave 1) stage hands the light to place props properly and 2) something for the audience to watch – the morphing of environments as the disease spreads.

    4) I love the directors and the directing of HH’s play. The author points out in his review that Lee Chin Wee, the cast and their acting was the “saving grace” of the play. Having a certain level of involvement in the preparation and rehearsals for this play, I think it must be noted that the directors worked with all actors on their acting skills until almost 11pm every night for an entire week with a slew of term papers and essays on their shoulders to reach the standard that was displayed on Friday. This speaks not just about the skills and attitude of the actors but the skills and attitudes of the directors as well. I would this encourage the authors to possess a proper knowledge of the rehearsal and directing process before writing such demeaning remarks.

    While I would give the authors credit for what they wrote in their review, I would encourage them to go through the motions of writing a JC level production from scratch before making such derisive comments about a play which people claimed was “their favourite play” even before the play had finished. Yes, the reader has heard people say that.

  4. I would like to point out a factual flaw in the writer’s comment. The judging of the script is based on the presentation on friday and not based on the judges perusal of the script (as written on paper). Considering this, your point about the judges’ inability to visualize the script is void.

  5. I do think that the judging panel consisted of a fortunate mix of perspectives. While Mrs Perry was the voice of experience, Dr Gooi represented the layman audience member with a general appreciation for aesthetics and Jasmine was most well acquainted with the processes and EFFORT behind putting up a Dramafest play. So while they might not have been an experienced team of dramaturges, for the context of DF I do believe it was an appropriate panel.
    I suppose the writers are entitled to keep to their opinions (and/or biases if any) since the article has been already written. But I also strongly believe that Dramafest should not be subject to such an undeservedly strongly-worded picking apart any more so than Dancefeste or Musicfest. The purpose of such festivals in IHCs are to showcase the talent and hard work invested by each and every individual in creating a vibrant school culture, and I personally find it most appalling that Press decided that the bulk of this review was to be the writers’ likes and dislikes of the plays. The whole point of celebrating Dramafest as a showcase and team effort/IHC was grossly underemphasized and I really hope Press realises that the tone of these articles do have a considerable impact on the way the school views DF. In future please understand the context and purpose of such events before letting your words and sentiments turn what was supposed to be a festival into a performance put at the mercy of your very personal critiques. Thank you.

  6. could Austin and Jeremy kindly reveal their theatre expertise?”

    Austin Zheng: “I would also like to point out that the judges are not as experienced as you might think.”

    What a disrespectful response. I find it interesting that the writer, who has accused his readers of ad hominem arguments, has committed a fallacious one himself to deflect criticism against his credibility. You are, after all, publishing in a student journalism website, so you should know that credibility is an asset prized in journalism. Since you have clearly implied that the judges are no better than you (and hence whose opinions are no more valid than yours), and since they do have experience in the performing arts (however minimal you might define it as), I expect you to have a good portfolio as well. Unless, of course, the reason why you responded with such an attack on the judges is because you don’t.

    I don’t have to remind you that in journalism writers do give a brief introduction to their area of expertise and/or relevant experience before posting opinion articles. I see no reason to absolve you of that responsibility just because you are a student. You have posted a scathing diatribe against some of the houses using rather pompous language filled with non-sequitors and then accused your audience of that. Your nitpicking with student plays that were put up in only a few weeks is ridiculous and essentially calls to question the objectivity of your article. “The legal system in the world of this play is never explained, which is a major problem given that a crucial plot point revolves around it.” – do you honestly expect a 20 minute play to properly lay out an intricate and detailed LEGAL SYSTEM in which case would not even act as a plot device nor contribute significantly to the play as a whole?

    I echo the first commenter’s view that you cannot mask your blatant bias behind mock objectivity. Just saying some good and bad things in your review doesn’t actually equate to a professional and objective article.

    I am much more disturbed by the way you have responded to your readers rather than the points you have made in your review. Given that you have approached the writing of this article with a fairly intensive degree of analysis (what with references to Twelve Angry Men, Orwellian literature, logical fallacies), I would think that you would like to imbue your article with some degree of professionalism and credibility. Hence, I implore the writers to 1. reveal their theatre expertise, and 2. defend against a reader’s allegation of Jeremy Khoo’s ulterior motive. Otherwise, I see no reason to view this article as a flamboyant attempt on some bitter students’ part to unjustly attack and disregard the hard work that their fellow schoolmates have put in.

    I do hope you do not accuse me of ad hominem arguments – I think it’s high time you get over that.

  7. could Austin and Jeremy kindly reveal their theatre expertise?”

    Austin Zheng: “I would also like to point out that the judges are not as experienced as you might think.”

    What a disrespectful response. I find it interesting that the writer, who has accused his readers of ad hominem arguments, has committed a fallacious one himself to deflect criticism against his credibility. You are, after all, publishing in a student journalism website, so you should know that credibility is an asset prized in journalism. Since you have clearly implied that the judges are no better than you (and hence whose opinions are no more valid than yours), and since they do have experience in the performing arts (however minimal you might define it as), I expect you to have a good portfolio as well. Unless, of course, the reason why you responded with such an attack on the judges is because you don’t.

    I don’t have to remind you that in journalism writers do give a brief introduction to their area of expertise and/or relevant experience before posting opinion articles. I see no reason to absolve you of that responsibility just because you are a student. You have posted a scathing diatribe against some of the houses using rather pompous language filled with non-sequitors and then accused your audience of that. Your nitpicking with student plays that were put up in only a few weeks is ridiculous and essentially calls to question the objectivity of your article. “The legal system in the world of this play is never explained, which is a major problem given that a crucial plot point revolves around it.” – do you honestly expect a 20 minute play to properly lay out an intricate and detailed LEGAL SYSTEM in which case would not even act as a plot device nor contribute significantly to the play as a whole?

    I echo the first commenter’s view that you cannot mask your blatant bias behind mock objectivity. Just saying some good and bad things in your review doesn’t actually equate to a professional and objective article.

    I am more disturbed by the way you have responded to your readers rather than the points you have made in your review. Given that you have approached the writing of this article with a fairly intensive degree of analysis (what with references to Twelve Angry Men, Orwellian literature, logical fallacies), I would think that you would like to imbue your article with some degree of professionalism and credibility. Hence, I implore the writers to 1. reveal their theatre expertise, and 2. defend against a reader’s allegation of Jeremy Khoo’s ulterior motive. Otherwise, I see no reason to view this article as a flamboyant attempt on some bitter students’ part to unjustly attack and disregard the hard work that their fellow schoolmates have put in.

    I do hope you do not accuse me of ad hominem arguments – I think it’s high time you get over that.

    1. *Otherwise, I see no reason to view this article as any other than a flamboyant attempt on some bitter students’ part to unjustly attack and disregard the hard work that their fellow schoolmates have put in.

    2. There really are a lot of comments criticizing this article, and likes/dislike for it stand at 20-20. Evidently this article is very controversial, and it’s great that people are responding so passionately. I may not be able to keep up with the replies soon.

      Firstly, I would like commentators to understand that it is very difficult for us to respond quickly to their comments, particularly since my smartphone has not been able to connect to RI WLAN for over half a year, for some strange reason.

      Secondly, and more pertinently, I have a different view of this article compared with Jeremy and the editors, who see it as essentially a review. I initially envisioned it as investigative journalism, with a little greater coverage of the production aspects, and I’m sorry to let down readers who were expecting a bit more on that.

      The point I’m making here is that Jeremy and I do see all the sheer effort that has gone into Dramafest. 7 hours a day over a period of three weeks: that’s like taking on a full-time job in addition to going to school. We have nothing but tremendous respect and admiration for the participants of Dramafest, who put in so much hard work just for something they’re passionate about.

      I agree with the commentator who stated that this article underplayed the production process and wider significance of Dramafest, but again, this article is unfortunately primarily a review.

      We however do not feel that criticism of their plays mean criticism of their effort or work; ultimately the products are secondary to the process. As such, I hope that readers do not mistake any criticisms made in the article as insults against the participants.

      Thirdly, in response to Trina Tan, I do not feel that criticising student plays that were put up in two weeks constitutes ‘nitpicking’. For the example of the legal system: since it is evident that it cannot be fully explained in a mere 20 minutes, the idea should perhaps have not been taken up. A simpler idea with a similar effect could be a public debate instead of a court trial.

      The Dramafest participants put in a tremendous amount of effort in creating those plays, and I don’t think it would be fair to them if we didn’t give them as critical and detailed a review as possible given our Press deadlines.

      Fourthly, also in response to Trina Tan, my comment about the judges’ credentials weren’t meant to put them down or imply in any way that our criticisms are superior to theirs. Rather, I wish to point out that it would be fallacious to dismiss our arguments because they are contradicted by the judges, particularly since the judges were limited by time on Saturday night and were thus unable to give a clear and detailed account of their criticisms.

      Fifth, in response to Lionel. That flaw you pointed out is interesting, very interesting indeed. It contradicts my main theory on the issue, which makes the question of why HH got Best Script even more intriguing to me. Thank you for pointing it out! I would also like to note that the part of my earlier comment regarding that was pure speculation and was in no way indicative of my co-writer Jeremy’s views.

      Sixth, regarding credentials. Jeremy has participated in Dramafest before and was the director of last year’s RI (Yr 1-4) Hullett play, which was widely regarded by audiences and other Dramafest participants alike as being the best play of that year. (I disagreed and still disagree). It didn’t win any prizes that year, though.

      I do not have any Dramafest experience. Though, of course, Jeremy and I participate in the usual school plays that are part of curriculum requirements, and watch professional plays frequently enough.

      Our credentials aren’t impressive, though probably not so much for Jeremy. But I think that readers should not wave away our arguments just because of that, particularly since no commentator so far has composed actual counterarguments against our points. That is merely a convenient way to justify their intense disagreements with our article.

      Seventh, regarding Jeremy Khoo’s ulterior motive. It is true that he has had some disagreements with the HH Dramafest team, however I do not feel that it has translated into overt bias in his writing. The MR review, for instance, was no less critical of the play. HH’s was only longer because there were plotholes in the play in additional to the usual weaknesses, which no other play had.

      For those accusing Raffles Press of being unprofessional. We are J1 students that have joined Press for a week. Our work is not representative of Press as a whole, and I would prefer that commentators refrain from slandering Press when they actually just disagree with the article. Nor is it practical for Press to thoroughly investigate all their journalists for possible biases. Given the complex and extensive network of personal ties throughout the school, it is inevitable for journalists to have some degree of personal interest in their issues. Neither does being biased intrinsically make one unreliable, as History students should know.

      Eighth, for all those who think that the HH review was dismissive or derisive. It is very negative and employs rather strong language. But I think to call it dismissive or derisive suggests that we think that the play itself was worthless, or the participants working for it inept. We think neither. As I have mentioned earlier in this comment, we differentiate negative criticism from disrespect. We have tremendous respect for the casts and crews, and we do not feel that any of the plays were bad. If you look through the article, the worst we have labelled the plays as was ‘average’, and that’s not for the sake of being politically correct. None of the plays were bad, and none of them were worthless, but for some of them, we felt that the negative aspects were more prominent or significant than their positive aspects, and that rendered what could have been a better play as only an average one.

      Thank you, once again, for all the responses. One last note. It is not ad hominem that I mind, but the lack of any counterargument apart from it. There’s not quite anything to get over, Trina, in case you’ve misunderstood my earlier comments.

      1. I would just like to point out that ONE DF play (that didn’t win any prizes) doesn’t count for any experience as compared to the judges’ experience. Perhaps you should reconsider the way you have expressed yourself. It does appear that you think your opinions are as worthy as the judges’ opinions. It is difficult to take you seriously when you have neither proven yourself experienced or professional and objective. You and your opinions are sounding more and more like an angsty rant.

        Kudos for having the courage to face all your critics.

  8. I do not think it is fair to the rest to the DF teams for only Shrey to get a positive introduction. I believe the other participants have equally strong credentials and highlighting Shrey’s does nothing to add on to your review of the MT play. (This isn’t a personal attack against Shrey, I find him extremely talented as well.)

  9. Yes! Arjun finally reveals that (some of) the readers of this article were not just irate HH members but thinking and feeling members of the audience. He seems willing to engage in a meaningful discussion with the authors and perhaps even change their current opinions – a welcome break to the growing list of malcontents with nothing but a grumble and “a wry smile” to their name.

    As much as I disagree with the article (rest assured, watcher of the watchman! I do not accept the entirety of this article), I value it as a frank, honest appraisal of Dramafeste. It accords the performers respect by treating them as mature, serious participants fully responsible for the piece they put up. How is it that only the participants can be involved and passionate, while the critic must do no more than nod and give each house a pat on the back? Do we expect our teachers to slap grade As on all our essays, complaining that they demoralize us when they fail us? How do we improve it all we hear is applause and we ignore the silent few shaking their heads disapprovingly?

    HH – you have convinced the judges you deserved to win, so congratulations for that. Now it is time to convince the few cynics who think otherwise. Can any of you truly say your play was perfect? If it was not then criticism will help you improve, so as long as you do not shrink from it. You have another Dramafeste next year to prove to the school that this year was not a fluke or error in judgement, so instead of moaning about detractors I would advise the house to focus on that.

  10. Theatre as an art form, is of course, open to varied forms of interpretation and would most naturally evoke different responses from a paying audience. Given the right to an opinion however, I’d kindly request that readers reconsider the following in isolation:

    1) The HHDF team’s opinion on the matter: Up to this point in time there does not seem to be an official statement released from any of the EXCO members -i.e. the directors or scriptwriters in question, on the production team, so perhaps it is time that we stopped assuming that the team has in fact, launched any forms of (personal) attack on the highly dissatisfied half of the audience of the show.

    2) The HOUSE’s stance on the issue: Again, there does not seem to have been any official comment made by any members of the House Directorate or Committee on the matter, claiming rights to a perfect script, insisting on a deserving entitlement to “Best Script”. At this point in time, I hence appeal that readers remember all comments made to this “controversial issue” at hand is in no way, an accurate indicator of the House’s attitude towards the critique, much less a grudging sense of bitterness to any skepticism towards the HH play.

    Perhaps it is time that we recall the true spirit behind IHCs and more specifically, Dramafeste. Established as an annual platform to celebrate the talents of passionate theatre practitioners in our school, Dramafeste, I believe, seeks to enable budding actors/scriptwriters/directors amongst us a chance to explore the magic of theatre, and share this passion with their fellow schoolmates and friends.

    While theatre buffs may term these plays “amateur” or “sub-standard”, I, as a highly interested individual in the art form, would like to applaud all 5 houses on the fantastic performance put up on both nights. Typically a critical member of any paying audience, I must admit I was very much impressed with the fantastic showcase put up by each and every single House last weekend. Granted, no play was perfect and I did naturally have my reservations for each of the pieces staged. At the same time however, I was reminded of the fact that these plays had been put together by a group of 17-18 year olds, many of whom probably would not have had received prior professional theatre training beforehand. Despite their lack of experience (note that I did not say talent) however, they had the courage to step up to the challenge and share their story with us. Remember that these group of teenagers had to work with highly suffocating time constraints, while managing their busy schedules – CCAs, term assignments, tutorials and so on.

    Contrary to selective belief, appreciation does NOT count for nothing. Being able to stage a piece of standard all 5 houses put up on both nights at only 17 or 18, I honestly salute my friends and schoolmates who have been part of this event, and it is perhaps also our responsibility to show appreciation for their hardwork and effort pumped in over the past few weeks.

    Highly intrigued by the overwhelming criticisms provided on each play, I would also kindly like to suggest that constructive feedback/further advice be provided for each of the plays staged, to help our actors/scriptwriters/directors improve on their future endeavors.

    With that, I would once again like to congratulate all cast and crew members of the Dramafeste team; each of you should know how far you’ve come, and no amount of words/cynicism can ever discredit any of you for the job well done. I urge you to measure success by your own standards and no one else’s, because the people who mind don’t matter and the ones who matter won’t mind (your “mediocre” performance or otherwise).

  11. Before I give my two cents worth,

    I would just like to say that, when it comes to theatre reviews, I have been part of an entire module by Mr. Kenneth Kwok (Founder of the Theatre Review Website ‘The Flying Inkpot Theatre and Dance’), during my year-long training at Buds Youth Theatre. I even wrote a review for a silent play, Snails with Ketchup by Rames Mayappan and was offered to write and submit reviews to The Flying Inkpot Theatre and Dance.

    I have also told what I am going to say to Chua Jun Yan, president of Raffles Press, but I’d just like to state it here as well so that the authors have a look and so do viewers.

    Personally, I believe as of the discussion so far, it has simply been a back and forth struggle between viewers and authors.

    I’d just like to say, that, first, in terms of technical aspects, the review does raise some pertinent points that can be useful for those involved in the production to reflect upon, areas that could have been done better – that I completely agree.

    However, I am completely appalled by the approach taken to highlight them. I would like to point out, that a professional theatre review’s purpose is for the readers to be made aware of what they could expect of what they might experience if they are to watch the production.

    A theatre review’s purpose is just that. To give completely objective opinions and suggestions of what the audience might find good and bad.

    The review is never at all supposed to JUDGE the production it is reviewing. It is supposed to respect the director’s and production teams work, take into account the conditions of the production (like low budget, time constraints etc), and on overall simply allow their readers to get an understanding of what they might be able to have experienced had they gone for the show.

    This review however is lathered with personal prejudices and many plays are heavily criticized because the authors have judged them based on what they like.

    I am the MT’s director, and MT’s play has been given a great review. In fact I myself have been commended in the article and even quoted. However, I’d like to say, that I am not pleased at all. Too much has been given to me. I believe the other plays put up in dramafest were of an equally credible standard and deserved better commendation. I do not say this because the directors of other houses are my friends but because I genuinely thought the plays put up were good.

    I agree the plays all had their shortcomings and I agree with many technical points raised in this review. I’d just like to say that the style of writing was not appropriate for a theatre review.

    A professional theatre review is meant to inform and suggest an experience, not spark a debate. It is never meant to be controversial. A theatre review isn’t meant to be like other journalism articles.

    And I’m sure press wants to be professional don’t they?

    This is constructive feedback. I’m just making suggestions to improve your review to make it professional.

  12. Dear all,

    I sincerely apologise for making the highly inappropriate and extremely disrespectful comments on the Dramafest article. I had no intention of insulting the judges or being arrogant and dismissive when I wrote those comments. But I did all those things. I was impulsive, foolish and above all rude, and I would like to say sorry for that. I apologise to the judges, for unjustifiably undermining their credibility, to the readers, for possibly marring their pleasant memories of Dramafest, and to the Press Exco, for giving them unnecessary trouble and stress. I will definitely watch myself more closely and ensure that I do not repeat my mistake.

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