By Tay Yu Ning (23S06E) and guest contributor Yu Grace Chenxi (23S06I)
Photos courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society.
What does “chasing dreams” mean to you? CLDCS’ (Chinese Language Drama and Cultural Society) 2022 production, titled 逐梦 (zhú mèng, Chasing Dreams), aimed to explore the many trials and tribulations that one may face when pursuing their goals and ambitions.
The concert was performed by students in both CLDCS’ drama and song-writing divisions, who had spent the last few months working on four original songs and a play.
With live concerts having been cancelled for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the members were even more determined to put up a good performance to impress the school population, who have never had the opportunity to watch a CLDCS concert live before.
Fortunately, they did indeed manage to impress the audience members. Chong Ray En (23S06I) commented “[It was] interesting”, and Tang Lanyun (23S05A) echoed this sentiment: “I thought CLDCS’ performances were really heartfelt. I really enjoyed it!”
The concert opened with a bang with “Sixteen” (十六) by Xitian Yilin (23S02B). Performing a melodic rap piece that described the tender feelings of a budding teenage crush, Yilin dedicated her song to her past self as well as those who were looking for the courage to face their feelings. Captivating the crowd in a blouse and plaid miniskirt, she brought the atmosphere to a high with her beautiful voice.
Yilin’s song was not the only song to discuss teenage love. Joash Chee’s (22S06A) performance of “Where We Met” (相遇街口) told the tale of a failed romance, expressing the narrator’s longing for his former lover and his desire to get back together. The title of the song was a reference to the protagonist wanting to return to the place where he and his lover met for the first time. As the curtains opened, Joash began by tenderly playing the first notes of the piece and gently pulled the audience into his story.
After a rousing round of applause for Joash, Liow Yingxuan (22S03J) stepped on stage to perform “Let Go” (放手). From the moment the first note was played, Yingxuan’s melodious singing provided the audience with an inner look at how a toxic romantic relationship causes pain, yet leaves one yearning for more. In the climax of the song, Yingxuan’s strained “Let go, let go, just let go,” conveyed the emotional turmoil that the main protagonist had to face in strengthening her resolve to finally leave the relationship behind.
Lastly, a visible gasp was heard from the audience as Wang Shi Ying (22S06H) and Wu Yixuan (22S06M) stepped onstage in their glamorous gowns. Presenting “At dusk” (尘归故土), Shi Ying and Yixuan told a story inspired by the fall of Phaethon. As their harmonious voices intertwined, the audience members were transported into the world of Greek mythology.
An Original Play
After the moving songs, it was time for the showcase of CLDCS’ very own original play, 《沟》(gōu), or “Trench”. The story followed Zi Ning, played by the charismatic Chew Sing Yee Jocelyn (22A01D), who wanted to be a E-sports player despite the objections of her traditional Asian family. Her mother, played by Zou Jiayue (22S03O), was in firm opposition to Zi Ning’s dream, while her father, played by Zhang Ziheng (22A01D), served as the middle-man between the two opposing parties.
The play proved to be very touching to many members of the audience, who could relate to Zi Ning’s story of wanting to pursue her passions at the expense of facing disapproval from her conservative parents. In order to better help viewers understand Zi Ning’s parents’ viewpoints,, the play also featured their younger versions, played by Zheng Yiqing Mindy (23S03C) and Zhang Xiantang (23S02A) respectively. The young couple elicited many laughs during the play, especially during the wedding scene where the audience were invited onto their feet by the actors in a chorale of “Yam Seng!”, collectively raising a toast to the newlyweds.
After many humorous dialogues between the family members that seemed as if they could have actually happened in a real Chinese household with Tiger Parents™, the family realised it was the generation gap, or the “trench”, between them that kept them from understanding each other’s views. Zi Ning finally understood that her mother was not being irrationally unreasonable; because she herself had been through similar experiences as a youth, she did not want her daughter to make the same mistakes. Zi Ning’s mother, too, finally realised that it was her own misguided prejudices that kept her from what she wanted the most for her daughter: seeing her happy.
All in all, the play was a massive success, balancing heartwarming moments with more humorous ones, simultaneously making its audience laugh while also educating them about some reasons why our parents may sometimes (stubbornly) disapprove of our life choices. As audience member Joel Lim (23S06I) put it, “It was so heart-rending and emotional seeing the relationship between the mother and child, especially the moment where they reconciled! And yet, the [play] was still perfectly balanced with a dash of good-natured humour.”
Another highlight of the production was the emceeing, done by Yu Grace Chenxi (23S06I) and Lee Chong Ray (23S03M). Being the hosts of a Chinese language production in an English-medium school, the emcees needed to balance the Chinese roots of the play with making sure that even those less proficient in Chinese could understand what was going on.
Explained Yu Grace Chenxi (23S06I): “We wanted to be inclusive and spread the love of Chinese culture to the school population without making anyone feel left out.”
With less than three weeks to prepare, the emcees certainly did a good job at introducing the acts and narrating the context behind the performances with apt humour and sufficient detail.
As the performers narrated stories of youths chasing their dreams, they were also chasing their own dream: to finally be able to perform in front of a large live audience after years of not being able to do so. The audience enjoyed the production so much that there were many shouts of “Encore!”, which Joash Chee fulfilled by reprising his performance of “Where We Met”, even performing another originally composed song “Signals of Love”.
The concert would not have been such a success without the many hours of dedication poured into the preparation process, with the members of the CCA having put in an estimated 50 hours of rehearsals in the three months leading up the concert!
The Stagehanding and Props team especially had to toil for many hours to make sure they could get the props on stage in the short seconds between scenes, working in tandem with the Lights and Sounds team to ensure everything would be in place before the start of the next scene.
As a relatively small CCA, CLDCS did not have enough members to carry out their production without some performers having to multi-task, participating in not just performing but also stage-handing and props management.
“The feelings I had were different for [performing and doing props],” said Xi Tianyilin, a performer who had to multi-task. “When I was performing, I felt really nervous about getting the pitch and lyrics correct. However, when I was moving props with my CCA mates, I felt content to have strived together with them as a team, [bringing] out our best to the audience.”
As the curtains fell, the audience members walked out of the auditorium feeling impressed by the passion demonstrated by the performers throughout the production. Learning more about the turmoil of pursuing one’s dream, the audience members left with a newfound motivation to—as the concert theme suggested— chase their own dreams.
Xitian Yiling (23S02A)
Joash Chee (22S06A)
Liow Yingxuan (22S03J)
Wang Shi Ying (22S06H)
Wu Yixuan (22S06M)
Chew Sing Yee Jocelyn as Zhang Zining (22A01D)
Zhang Xiantang as Young Father (23S02A)
Zhang Ziheng as Father (22A01D)
Zheng Yiqing Mindy as Young Mother (23S03C)
Zou Jiayue as Mother (22S03O)
Yu Grace Chenxi (23S06I)
Lee Chong Ray (23S03M)
|Stagehanding and Props:|
Chu Yueheng (23S06S)
Wang Han (23S02A)
Xi Tianyilin (23S02B)
Xu Meng (23S02A)
Zhang Xiantang (23S02A)
Zhang Yunzhe (23S02B)
Zheng Yiqing Mindy (23S03C)
Zhuang Zhiyao (23S03C)
|Lights and Sounds|
Zhao Tianqin (23S06S)
Che Ming Xuan Michelle (23S06K)
Zhao Yiduo, Natalia (23S06F)
|Behind the scenes|
Huang Xinrui (23A01B)
Loh Wan Xuan (22S03B)
Ngiam Jing Ci, Stacey (23S07A)
Liang Yunyi (22A01D)
Lyrics: Xi Tianyilin
Music: Xi Tianyilin
Beats: Red Killer
|‘Where We Met’|
Lyrics: Joash Chee, Liu Ruogu
Music: Joash Chee
Lyrics: Wang Shi Ying
Music: Wu Yi Xuan
Lyrics: Liow Ying Xuan
Music: Liow Ying Xuan
Producer: Wang Shi Ying
Director: Zou Jiayue
Assistant Director: Zhang Ziheng
Stage Director: Yu Chenxi Grace
Backstage Control: Che Ming Xuan Michelle, Zhao Tianqqin, Zhao Yiduo Natalia
BTS Team (props, costume & makeup): Chu Yueheng, Wang Han, Xi Tianyilin, Xu Meng, Yu Chenxi Grace, Zhang Xiantang, Zhang Yunzhe, Zheng Yiqing Mindy, Zhuang Zhiyao
Actors: Chew Sing Yee Jocelyn, Zhang Xiantang, Zhang Ziheng, Zheng Yiqing Mindy, Zou Jiayue
Background Actors: BTS Team