Isaac Lim Jue Hao, a final year Theatre Studies major from the Department of English Language and Literature, has won the top prize at the annual 24-Hour Playwrighting Competition with his play Between Consciousness.
The competition was organised by TheatreWorks Writer’s Laboratory Writing & Community in partnership with the South East Community Development Council. This year’s edition was held from 6 to 7 June at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) which boasts of lush greenery that provided a serene and calm environment for the promising playwrights to develop their plays.
Recently, we caught up with Isaac to congratulate him on his achievement and to find out more about his winning entry Between Consciousness.
1. Congratulations on the achievement! How do you feel about the award?
It came as a surprise! I was not expecting to win anything this year. This is my fifth time participating in the competition. I attempted a different style of writing this time round and am glad the work resonated with the judges. I’m very encouraged by the award as it recognises my effort as well as my craft. It pushes me to want to explore playwrighting and creative writing even more.
2. Why did you decide to join the competition?
I’ve always been interested in playwrighting and have been regularly taking part in the competition. This year, however, the impetus was definitely the unique venue – the IMH at Buangkok Green. It’s a place that I would not have visited if not for this opportunity. I’ve always treated the event itself as less of a competition and more of a writing retreat. I love to write and taking a weekend off to generate new work cannot be a more perfect break from everything.
3. Tell us more about Between Consciousness.
Between Consciousness is itself an exploration of mental illness and society. The play itself is non-sequitur and crazy. It runs as two parallel stories; one tells about a father and his autistic child and another a mental health doctor coming to terms with expectations of his patients, family and the society. I’d like to think people have alter-egos between different consciousness in their minds and one can never can quite tell fantasy from reality.
4. What was the inspiration behind it?
The father and child story was inspired by a teacher-mentor of mine, who regularly shares stories about his autistic child and their adventures. It has made me rethink about children with special needs and how society looks at them.
At IMH, we learnt that there are many “mental illnesses” that are not apparent to the society. I decided to attempt a pastiche of it all which was presented in a madcap way and hopefully is serious enough to shed light on the matter.
I myself have had episodes of epileptic seizures and a distant cousin with a mental illness thus my personal experiences or “adventures” contributed in part to my writing.
5. Describe the 24-hour playwriting competition experience. (The difficulties faced, the memorable bits etcetera)
We were given the – for the lack of a better word – craziest yet creative stimuli at different times throughout the 24-hour period. These items had to be incorporated into the play in chronological order of their appearance. This includes specific lines a character said and non-specific abstract “objects” like Mamee Monster snacks or a black thrash bag filled with air. They say experience makes it easier, but I’ll deny that. You can never quite expect what the game-masters throw at you, so you just have to keep writing.
It is interesting to make friends at such competitions. Everyone is there to indulge in the passion of playwrighting, so chatting and sharing snacks and drinks during the long night is really fun. It’s akin to a big sleepover party with the most diverse bunch of creatives. It’s nice hitting ideas off one another. Writing is not all that mundane and anti-social act.
6. What is your takeaway from the competition?
Everyone is a bit mental but we should never shy away from admitting or recognising that.
With regards to the competition itself, I believe there is no fixed way of writing for a competition but it is definitely best to try different styles. Even if we don’t emerge as winners, we will walk away with a piece of fresh writing and an experience that is unmatched. The accomplishment of finishing a writing under such constrains is in itself pleasurable in many ways.
7. What are your future plans with regard to theatre and the arts?
I’m currently a final year Theatre Studies major, so I will definitely will be involved in theatre and the arts in one way or another. I do hope that upon graduation, should I not find a job in a theatre organisation, I will still find time to play with like-minded peers. I like to write as much as I like to devise works thus hopefully I will continue to push my creativity and generate new works in the near future.
The Faculty wishes Isaac all the best in his future undertakings!
The Commencement Class Giving campaign at FASS took off to a heartening start with the recruitment of 34 class champions across the departments at the beginning of this year. The annual giving campaign is an initiative by NUS Development Office (DVO) that runs across the campus in a spirit of friendly competition to inspire commencing students to support bursaries or student programmes for their juniors. It is a collaborative effort with the External Relations and Student Life Division (ERSL) at the faculty.
Despite the busy schedule of their final semester at NUS, the class champions went all out to encourage their graduating classmates to make their gifts in support of the FASS Student Advancement Bursary Fund. In addition to setting up booths at the AS1 walkway and gown collection to solicit gifts, the class champions also reached out to their friends through various social media platforms and their departments’ social gatherings to raise funds. Though some of them found it challenging to fund-raise initially, many of the class champions felt the experience was meaningful and enjoyed the friendship they forged through the process. According to David Hoe, Economics Class champion 2015, “Though it was a short few months of fundraising, I feel I have grown and have been inspired through serving alongside my fellow passionate comrades. More than that, those who gave also encouraged me to go the extra mile”.
The hard work of our class champions paid off handsomely when the competition results were announced at the end of August. A total of 25.8% of the commencing undergraduate cohort made gifts of at least $10 each, totaling S$ 8,617 for the bursary fund. Their achievement led to FASS being awarded second place for the Best Participation Award (among large faculties with over 1,000 graduating students). Their enthusiasm and committed effort also won FASS the inaugural Volunteer Excellence Award as the faculty with the most number of active student champions.
We would like to thank the following class champions for their commendable efforts:
Kok Wang Lin (Chinese Studies)
Tong Wenxu (Chinese Studies)
Loh Sze Ming (Communications and New Media)
Louis Puah (Communications and New Media)
Grace Leong (Communications and New Media)
Lee Kai Shun (Communications and New Media)
David Hoe (Economics)
Roshan Kumar Belani (Economics)
Zachary Low (English Literature)
Timothy Joshua Ong (English Language)
Gladys Sim (English Language)
Wendy Ang (Environmental Studies)
Loo Wen Bin (Geography)
Kayley Ng (Geography)
Reuben Lim (European Studies)
Nathalie Ng (History)
Li Ling (History)
Philine Yong (Japanese Studies)
Nur’izzah Mohamad Afandi (Malay Studies)
Siti Nursamihah Jeffrey (Philosophy)
Daryl Ooi (Philosophy)
Darryl Lee (Political Science)
Varun Khemaney (Political Science)
Boris Wong (Global Studies)
Ace Ong (Psychology)
Ho Si Min (Psychology)
Elizabeth Chew (Psychology)
Ng Yi Ying (Social Work)
Muhammad Ilham Firdaus Omar Ali (Social Work)
Faris B. Ridzuan (Sociology)
Michelle Teo (Sociology)
Jayasutha Samuthiran (Political Science and South Asian Studies)
Diviyapriya Naidu d/o Vijayan (South Asian Studies)
Cindy Lin (Southeast Asian Studies)
Upon their commencement, the class champions now assume the role of class ambassadors. We take delight in knowing that FASS will remain connected to this wonderful group of selfless students, and we hope to be able to work with them on meaningful causes in the future.
This year, FASS Club bagged the Silver Award at the annual NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Rag & Flag 2015.
Unlike in previous years, Rag Day 2015 was held on a grand scale at The Float @ Marina Bay in conjunction with the nation’s Jubilee celebrations as well as NUS 110th anniversary. The theme was “Where I Belong – To be with the People”, deviating from the regular narrative themes that bound past Rag Day competitions. This allowed more room for interpretation, expression and creativity.
FASS Club’s storyline for its float display and performance features various architectural landmarks that resonate with the modern Singaporean.
A lot of thought and time were put into the arrangements of the floats and dance. As such, preparations were well underway as early as September last year – starting out with a recruitment drive for participants.
Nicholas Tan Jing Wen, chairperson of the Freshmen Orientation Programme says, “Preparations for this year required far more specialist knowledge, as this was the first year in a long time that the Rag Committee has had to put up a night performance. This meant that previously neglected components of performance such as lighting, sound quality and videography had to be taken into account.”
“Additionally, the external venue meant we had to increase the durability of our floats. Concerns such as transportation of the items, modular design and even luminosity of the paint had to be taken into account,” he added.
The planning and construction of the float only began last December and May this year respectively. In May, the number of helpers doubled as the freshmen were able to help.
As much as possible the Club tried to incorporate the use of recycled materials, gathered from collection drives, at every stage of the construction process. The structure of the float comprised recycled metal L-bars and cardboards while numerous Yakult bottles and newspapers formed the intricate patterns that injected more life to the floats.
In total, a 13-member Rag Committee, 18 float engineers and 38 dancers were involved in the entire process. The result was a dazzling float display and a spectacular dance performance that wowed the spectators that night.
Our heartiest congratulations to three Department of Communications & New Media students – Desmond Koh, Celine Leong and Chng Yan – for the unprecedented achievement at the Future News Competition, an international competition for aspiring journalists.
All three students scooped the top three places at the competition and will be headed for a three-day, fully-paid journalism conference in Edinburgh this month. There, they will meet leading journalists and learn more about multi-media reporting and editing.
The students who undertook the module NM3211 News Reporting and Editing were mentored by Ms Ee Lyn Tan, an award winning journalist who has received the Asia Human Rights Press award and has also worked at Reuters previously.
NUS Psychology wins Regional 2015 SPS–ARUPS Student Research Award
The 5th ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies Congress, organized jointly by the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) and the ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS), took place in Singapore from 25 to 27 March 2015. Among 227 research entries that were submitted by psychologists and academicians in the region, and the 147 that were finally accepted for presentation, Mr. Yong Zhihao Paul, a recent NUS Psychology graduand and winner of the 2014 Singapore Prison Psychology Prize, has won the SPS-ARUPS Student Research Award this year for his submission titled Enhancing Online Learning Using Retrieval-based Practice: Implications for Singapore’s Educational System. This research was first pursued as Mr. Yong’s Honours Thesis at the NUS under the mentorship of Dr. Lim Wee Hun Stephen, one of NUS’s recent named Rising Stars and enlistees to her Honour Roll for Teaching Excellence.
The researchers commented: “A goal that modern Singapore pursues relates to meaningful advancements in our educational system, which would in turn determine the continued progress of our society, in terms of our workforce quality, national economy, and so forth. We constantly seek productive methodologies of education – instruction and learning – with the aim to discover optimal educational approaches. Educators typically rely heavily on learning activities that encourage elaborative studying, whereas activities that require students to retrieve and reconstruct knowledge are used less frequently and often for nothing more than testing purposes. Here we show that practising to retrieve information gained from online Coursera lectures actually, albeit counterintuitively, produced better long-term knowledge retention than did studying that information repeatedly. Based on the findings, there is a need to carefully (re)consider the notion and role of ‘testing’ in schools and contemporary – online – learning platforms, because testing potentially promotes learning. Our longer-term goal is to contribute meaningfully to shaping the educational landscape in Singapore through our research programme.”
Currently a psychologist at the Singapore Prison Service, Mr. Yong expresses his appreciation to his research supervisor. In his words to Dr. Lim: “You have this unique ability to connect with, and influence students to excel beyond the classroom. This has spurred me to do the same with my peers and juniors. Your traits of a distinguished educator are more than just life-changing. Your inspiration for excellence and your friendship transcend beyond the people you meet – it is ‘lives-changing’. I have not met any other educator who makes me feel truly confident in my work and in myself. You have instilled a burning passion in me to be a lifelong learner. I would not be half the psychology graduate I am today, without your inspiration and supervision.”
Dr. Lim, who also sits on the Executive Council of the NUS Teaching Academy, shares his personal thoughts: “The theme of the ARUPS Congress is Professionalising Psychology: Raising the Standards of Psychology for Nation Building. We are glad that our educational psychology research won an award. As we mourn the passing on of our nation’s first Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, we fondly remember Mr. Lee as someone who made every effort to strengthen, among the many other things, education in Singapore. In his speech to principals of schools at the Victoria Theatre on 29 August 1966, he shared about the kind of education he would like to have, if he were given superhuman powers:
The ideal product is the student, the university graduate, who is strong, robust, rugged, with tremendous qualities of stamina, endurance and at the same time, with great intellectual discipline and, most important of all, humility and love for his community; a readiness to serve whether God or king or country or, if you like, just his community.
As an academic and educator, I continue to do my part for the nation by nurturing students holistically, and preparing them for life after university. I believe all of us have a very specific role to play in nation building. Together, let us bring the legacy into the future, and keep on loving and building Singapore our home.”
Mr. Paul Yong (left); Ms. Clare Yeo (middle; President, Singapore Psychological Society); Dr. Stephen Lim (right)