2015 Applied Theatre Workshop

A Home on the Island: Bodies, Objects and Narratives

On 26 June 2015, an eight-hour applied theatre workshop was held from 9am to 5pm at the Theatre Studies Performance Studio, National University of Singapore. The workshop was facilitated by Ms Lee Yueh-lan, Artistic Director of Nanyang Sisters Theatre, and Ms Chen Shu-hui, a long-term member of Assignment Theatre, Even Nearer Playback Theatre and Cross Border Cultural Foundation. The workshop was attended by twelve members of Nanyang Sisters Theatre, seven NUS students, two NUS Theatre Studies alumni and three external participants. Altogether twenty-five participants were present at the workshop.

Founded in 2009 and based in Taipei, Nanyang Sisters Theatre is a theatre company with membership consisting of marriage migrants from various ASEAN countries. The theatre company is part of the NGO group called TransAsia Sisters Association, Taiwan (TASAT), which first began as a literacy program for foreign spouses in 1995. Since the founding of the company, it has created and extensively toured performances based on the life experience of its members, as well as those TASAT has assisted. Through performances, workshops and forums, the mission of the company is to offer support and consultancy to ASEAN marriage migrants, and to enhance public awareness and understanding of marriage migration.

As part of the workshop preparation, each participant was requested to bring an object which represented their understanding and concept of home. Through theatre games and exercises, group discussion, improvisation and scene creation, participants discussed, excavated and reflected upon issues regarding the flow of people, cultures and ideas across borders in an increasingly “flattened” world. Home, migration and globalization were the three central themes addressed in the workshop. The session concluded with Nanyang Sisters presenting the company’s latest performance production Happiness- No U-turn!?. The play gave a glimpse of the lives of those who had chosen marriage as a migratory route in a globalized world. (Contributed by Liang Peilin.)

Commencement 2015 — An English Language Senior Pens Her Thoughts on Her Graduation

July is the month of commencement ceremonies and the department has its share of seniors graduating from the English Language, English Literature and Theatre Studies programs.

Below, Gladys Sim, a senior graduating from the English Language program pens her thoughts on her graduation. In her honors thesis, Gladys studied advertisements for men’s skincare products and their role in constructing a new masculine identity. commencement

No Place I’d Rather Be . . .
“The quirks of being an English Language major are two-fold. One, that I probably spent half my time in NUS explaining to others that English Language is neither about English comprehension practices nor English cloze passages. Two, that English Language should not be confused with English Literature, and that not all English Language majors will be working as teachers when they graduate.

Contrary to popular belief, English Language is not about poring through English texts and being grammar Nazis, expanding our vocabulary knowledge, or writing great stories. English Language is way more sophisticated; it looks at the underlying concepts that explain and grapple with the ways language is used and maintained. It comprises many different research fields – Sociolinguistics that looks at issues like power, media, policies and gender; Psycholinguistics that analyses the very ability of the human brain that allows us to speak; Lexicology that is concerned with the signification and application of words; Phonology that studies sounds that form the bedrock of language; and Syntax that examines how grammar works.

Looking back on my four years as an undergraduate, I have amassed a trove of readings and lecture slides, and accumulated thousands and thousands of words in my entire storage of reports. I also remember many long nights of re-discussing, re-writing and re-editing concepts and arguments for both essays and presentations. It was not easy, and many times I had to make mistakes in order to learn what was better. The greatest takeaway for me was from writing my own Honours Thesis that was worth 15 MCs. I could not have done it without the intensive intellectual rigour that being an English Language major had put me through, my dedicated Professor who challenged my thoughts with her insights, and the fun-loving bunch of friends who shared the same passion for the English Language.

Now that I have graduated, it is partly a relief not to have to meet the incessant deadlines and the avalanche of assignments. Having said that, a part of my heart aches too knowing that the camaraderie with my fellow comrades forged in my undergraduate years will now take a different turn. It is a bittersweet feeling to stand between the academic sphere which I have to depart from, and the corporate world which I now need to learn to embrace. I had expected to experience this intangible bit of wistfulness, and I told myself early on to seize every moment in my undergraduate years. I am glad I did, and that I learnt to discard the rat-race mentality to look beyond simply achieving good grades, because in the end I received a lot more blessings than I had asked for.”