By Lee Rui Xuan (21A01C), Chairperson, Celine Yang (21A01A), Secretary, and Tiffany Li (21A13B), Quartermistress
What do you think of when you hear “Players”?
The first thing that comes to your mind is probably, well, acting. Of course we act. But Players and putting up productions involve much more than that—joining the CCA will reveal to you the wonders of the backstage world, the joys of bringing a script to life, and the intricacies of the study of theatre itself!
What do we do?
Of course, like any other CCA, we have a completely different schedule due to Covid-19 (read about how we manage drama online below!). But this section will give you a sneak peek into how Players usually functions over a two-year cycle, just so that you know what you’re signing up for once things get back to (some semblance of) normal.
Singapore Youth Festival (SYF)
The SYF’s drama section alternates between Secondary school and JC levels every year, meaning that we participate in this on a biennial basis. The SYF performance typically takes place by the end of April and consists of a short theatre piece (around 15 minutes), giving J1s a great opportunity to try their hands on the production process.
2020 was supposedly an SYF year. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of rehearsals of our SYF piece, What Are You Doing Here? (by David Campton) when Circuit Breaker hit, and SYF was unfortunately cancelled later on, but here are some pictures from early devising sessions!
The Dramafeste takes place in non-SYF years, and it is what you will be welcomed with when you enter Players. The five houses will each put up their own 15-minute plays, and you will get to participate in putting together this full-scale production!
As the highlight of the year, the College Production is a full-scale production held in the Performing Arts Centre (PAC) where both batches come together to bring a 2-hour script to life. CCA members are able to gain experience in the various aspects of theatre such as Acting, Publicity, Lights & Sounds, Props & Sets and Stage Management.
This production is where most would probably find it to be the most stressful, but the most fun too. It is where creativity knows no bound—we have the freedom to showcase whatever we may wish —and it is also where the Y5s step up and prepare to take ownership of the CCA, while the Y6s strive to leave a legacy in their final performance as Players.
Preparing for any production is stressful, especially one on the scale of the College Production. But when the lights blaze in full intensity for the last time and the entire CCA bows as one, it is the peak of a Player’s year—and we guarantee you’ll enjoy every bit of it.
After a year of training and as the exhilaration from the College Production starts to fade, the Y5s come together at the end of the year to put together their very own production as a batch. Again, the script choice has little restrictions, and the Y5s typically take this opportunity to bond as a batch while expressing what they collectively wish to convey through the first time they shoulder the full responsibilities for the production process.
Training: What we do normally (What we did in 2019)
With all that we have going on in a year, training sessions are essential in our development. Conducted every Friday (and the occasional Wednesday) afternoon from 3 to 6pm, professionals from the industry make time out of 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.
These sessions are said to encapsulate the essence and joy of Players—with its vibrant and energetic atmosphere, and our members’ eagerness to learn is almost palpable in the air. They not only provide an escape from the stress and buzz of normal school life, but are essentially also a time of honest enjoyment for our members.
What we do in the COVID-19 situation
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the flow of our lives and everyday activities. As such, we have had to adapt to the new circumstances and adjust the way we carry out our CCA sessions. But don’t worry—despite the challenges, we’ll still get to continue to learn about theatre and working on projects together with an open mind and positive attitude!
Firstly, the frequency of our CCA sessions have been reduced from twice a week (Wednesdays and Fridays) to once a week, on Fridays only.
As of now (August 2020), they are still being carried out online. Although learning about spatial awareness and getting a sense of the physical space is an important part of theatre—due to the limitations of safety measures—we may not be able to work on that just yet. Don’t worry, though, because there are many other essential aspects of theatre to learn about!
For example, for the past few weeks of online sessions, our drama instructor has been conducting lessons on how the voice works, and how we can learn to use it effectively, which is essential to good acting. The lessons include the hands-on aspect of us trying out what we have learnt, and receiving feedback from our instructor. Despite the sessions being online, they are still effective and enjoyable!
When we’re not training…
Before we started training sessions with our instructor, we had self-organised sessions where we would have discussions about full-length plays or short clips related to theatre which we would have watched prior to the sessions. We would discuss what we found interesting about the staging, costuming, lighting, et cetera. It’s always fun and intriguing to check out new and different ways of telling stories, and to share them with one another!
Who we’re looking for
We welcome anyone who shows keen interest to learn more about theatre!
With theatre being a more abstract and borderless form of art, we value the willingness to go beyond your comfort zone, exploring different ideas and styles in their time here in Players. Since theatre is more flexible in nature, it is important that CCA members are willing to learn from each other and remain open minded to all sorts of ideas. Such open mindedness also needs to be translated when receiving feedback from our mentors. It is inevitable that mistakes will be made in the exploration of theatre, but what’s more important is the ability to receive constructive feedback and improve from then onwards!
Passion for theatre is also essential as it will motivate us to do our best when it comes to producing a piece of work and such devotion will eventually translate to something we can be proud of.
Commitment is also needed as production season will, of course, be more hectic than usual. So we will definitely wish to select CCA members who are willing to push through and remain engaged with their roles. While our official CCA sessions are usually held on Fridays from 3pm to 6pm, extra hours are spent on other days during the intensive yet rewarding production season to build sets, work on publicity materials, go through rehearsals, and design costumes.
If you are passionate about theatre and want to challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone to produce your very own production, do sign up for auditions! Auditions generally take place some time in February with segments such as group improvisations, monologue reading, interviews and more! Don’t fret about the difficulty of the activities as there will be seniors to guide you. Just immerse yourself in the experience and have fun, and we hope to see you at auditions!