By Yu Shangchen (18S02A), Chairperson, Zhang Chang (18S06F), Vice-Chairperson and Sally Yang (18S05A), Secretary
No one really knows what “CLDCS” stands for. For one, the “L” in the “CLDCS” has been given a wide range of meanings, including Literature, Language and Linguistics. (Officially, it is “Literary”). Funnily enough, this says nothing about what CLDCS actually does – we are neither a book club nor a Chinese Writer’s Guild. In fact, CLDCS is a performing arts CCA with three unique divisions: Calligraphy, Drama and Songwriting.
As one can guess, members of Calligraphy are head over heels for Chinese calligraphy. Every week, they take a few hours to dive into a tranquil world permeated by ebony ink, the silent hustle of brushstrokes over yellowed paper, and the soothing zephyr from the air conditioner. We are able to offer a casual environment for peers to learn from one another. One is free to choose what to practice for the day – one notable example being a hundred “哈(Ha)”s written in a bout of joy after Promos.
Knowledge of calligraphy and/or the Chinese language has never been a prerequisite. Anyone is welcome, as long as you make sure to wash the brushes clean at the end of the session.
It has to be acknowledged that in order to compose songs, one has to be well-versed enough in music theory. Such talents are hard to find, even with two thousand JC students to choose from. Thus, unsurprisingly, a majority of our current batch are music noobs. But worry not, as Kevin Laoshi, an eminent music producer, is always there to provide professional guidance for every step of the creative process. This enables us to maintain a nurturing and inclusive community that, at the same time, churns out a good-quality album every year.
The distinct personalities and talents of our members are reflected in the diversity of output: past singles range from a heart-wrenching ballad bemoaning mortality to a jazzy, light-hearted rap about castles on a frying pan. Much creative freedom is given, especially in lyric writing, as Laoshi has admitted that he is bad at Chinese. By the end of the year, everyone will be able to find their own place in the team, whether as a composer, lyricist, accompanist or a singer.
Have you ever imagined yourself winning the Oscar? Have you ever considered becoming the next Jackie Chan? Have you ever enjoyed the grandeur of the Broadway stage? If you have, well, our Drama Section may not be for you. The Drama division of CLDCS is one of a kind – it is less about bringing home titillating trophies and more of the process of creating something together.
Typical sessions involve games that help us hone our stage skills, rehearsals, and the occasional ten-minute impromptu lecture on important life values by Huang Laoshi, a highly distinguished drama educator and Laoshi. We have a tradition of performing original plays, and members will start to generate preliminary ideas after Promos. Then ensues the cycle of passing around new drafts and gathering feedback. While the quality of the first draft of scripts turned in have consistently been similar to that of Preliminary Ideas for PW, rest assured as, just like PW, the final draft usually bears zero resemblance to the first.
Past original plays, while varied in tone and setting, often carry the theme of crime and tragedy. Examples include assisted suicide (2017), industrial toxic pollution (2016), and death from overexertion (2015). Although there has yet to be an official explanation for this trend, rumour has it that it is a subconscious manifestation of stressful student life in RI. Current members have been reported to be trying their hands at comedy; nevertheless, the play for 2018 remains open to all possibilities.
Despite the unique nature of CLDCS having three mostly unrelated divisions, members remain strongly loyal and bonded to one another. This is due to several opportunities provided for the CCA to come together as a whole. While other events vary from year to year, we hold a camp in March and a CCA production in May without fail. In our annual production, titled 翠谷回响 (Cui Gu Hui Xiang), showcases from the three divisions are weaved together in ways truly unimaginable (we lose sleep over this every year) to make it a memorable experience for everyone involved.
CLDCS is just like coffee – it is 3-in-1. While the three divisions appear independent of one another, they are unified at the core – a desire to explore and promote Chinese culture. This culture is not exclusive to literature and history; it can be found in what we eat, what we think, and how we treat the people around us. It permeates our daily lives even within a modern and multicultural society such as Singapore.
Ultimately, the identity of CLDCS is one that grows, flourishes, and reinvents itself along with its members. As such, CLDCS is here for everyone: historians, explorers, party-goers, technicians – including overworked, depressed, non-Chinese speaking JC students.