By Liu Kaizhong (20S03C), Quartermaster and Fiona Xiao (20A01A), Quartermistress
What does it mean to be in Raffles Players? The first thing which comes to your mind is probably just acting and putting on a show on stage. Indeed, the word “Players” suggests that we simply adopt different personas to entertain our audience. On the contrary, while you may not always have the chance to act, you get to be involved in the process of transforming mere words on the script to something grand. Dry descriptions of a scene on a script manifests in the form of majestic sets, coupled with the surreal atmosphere created by lights and sounds. Actors make their appearances and characters in the script are brought to life as the dialogues in the script evolve into passionate exchanges of emotions complemented by their glamorous costumes. During each transformation you thought that nothing could get more ambitious than this, and again you were surprised until you ceased thinking and just resigned to the interminable wonders washing over you as you marvel at your final production.
The sky is definitely the limit in the scale of performances we put up. However, the journey to becoming a proficient practitioner of the theatrical arts will not be easy. While our official CCA sessions are usually held on Wednesdays from 3pm to 6pm, extra hours are spent on other days during the intensive but rewarding production season to build sets, work on publicity materials, go through rehearsals, and design costumes.
A biennial event, Dramafest is an exciting opportunity for houses to compete against each other by putting up a fifteen-minute play. Dramafeste 2019’s theme was non(SENSE)—each house was in charge of putting up a play based on one of the 5 senses.
Non-players can get acquainted with the theatrical art form by participating and volunteering to act, write scripts, build sets and props as well as many other duties. It is truly an enriching experience that gives you a sense of working on a production as you explore and learn new skills, while bonding with your teammates in the same house!
The most significant milestone in a Player’s career, College Production is where batch after batch of Y6s strive to leave their legacy through their last performance as a part of the CCA. Possibly also the biggest and most challenging production in a Player’s career, it is a full-scale performance held in the school’s Performing Arts Centre (PAC) and is largely unrestricted in terms of production value or plot direction. Both batches come together and work hard to create a unique and tremendous display of creativity and wit, and the result is—if we say so ourselves—often remarkable.
If you had come down to watch 2019’s College Production, The 39 Steps, you would know exactly what we are talking about. It’s not just the lights and sounds or the breathtaking set that we’re referring to, but the spectacular acting, stage-managing, and directing that stood testament to the amount of hard work and effort put into this production. The life-sized promescium archway and the 15-feet-tall spectator’s gallery were simply brought to life by our actors’ humourous and captivating performance. Of course, there were numerous trials and errors that we had had to go through, but learning from our mistakes had only helped us to grow as actors and as crew, helping us to make the show even better for our audience.
The J1 Production is an avenue for the junior batch to hone their theatrical craft, by trying out as different roles in various committees. It is also an opportunity for the batch to bond over the immense effort invested into making a play. This year’s J1 batch put up an adaptation of Homesick by Alfian Sa’at. The complex drama within the Koh family that occurs as a result of the characters’ distinct, conflicting personalities leaves the audience to ponder the question, “What does home really mean to us?” Indeed, the poignant and evocative theme of belonging is fleshed out in our production. We are not just performing; we are expressing a deep, meaningful and universal human experience through our play.
With all that we have going on in a year, training sessions are essential in our development as actors and directors. Conducted every Wednesday (and the occasional Friday) afternoon from 3–6pm, professionals from the industry take away from their busy schedules to teach and mentor a class or workshop. From comedy and clowning, to animal studies, and even special effects makeup, CCA sessions help us to gain insight into the different aspects of the industry and serve to hone our skills in many of these areas. During those sessions, we are introduced to the complexities of acting which incorporates theories of Stanislavski’s system to encourage a more emotionally expressive performance. Furthermore, we get to explore genres like the timeless commedia dell’arte, an Italian form of improvised comedy popular in Europe from the 16th to 18th century. These sessions are said to encapsulate the essence and joy of Players, with its vibrant and energetic atmosphere and our members’ eagerness to learn almost palpable in the air, they not only provide an escape from the stress and buzz of normal school life, but are essentially a time of honest enjoyment for our members.
Should I join Players?
Although we have many people in CCA who have a background in drama, we welcome anyone who displays the keenness to learn more about theatre and the willingness to exit his or her comfort zone. Unequivocally, there may be slips in our mock performances and improvisations during our training sessions; however, what is most important is that we are open to criticism from our mentors and that we do not shy away from trying again just because of a minor flop. It is precisely this perseverance through tedious performances which we also value. Passion for theatre is also essential as something to motivate us to put in our best effort and committing ourselves to staging a brilliant production.
If you feel enthusiastic about theatre and want to challenge yourself to embark on an arduous journey to becoming a proficient practitioner of the theatrical arts, do sign up for auditions! Auditions will take place some time in February—it will include segments such as monologue reading, interviews, group improvisation, and more. Don’t fret about the difficulty of those activities because we will help to ease you into them by making your audition fun and enjoyable.