Call It Singaporeana

General Lee and I return to perform our works again, this time as part of the Singapore Writers Festival.

Our performance – titled Call It Singaporeana – is a music and spoken-word collaboration focused on telling Singapore stories.

Each piece integrates an original song by General Lee with a poem or literary text written by me, in response to their music, where we bring together music, theatre and literary arts to imagine (or reimagine) Singaporeana – Singapore stories of our country’s history, myths and legends, and to tell (or retell) them through word and song.

General Lee will also be arranging their music in collaboration with The Good Company to incorporate acoustic instruments integral to American folk music such as the fiddle, the banjo and the mandolin.

The Good Company – comprising Kailin Yong, Kelly Olafson and Mark James Garratt – is a collective of musicians well-versed in the acoustic instruments that define the sound of Americana, or American folk music. This includes country, bluegrass and old-time music of the Appalachian Mountains.

A little teaser about what’s new and different from the previous show:

  • We’ll be debuting two new works: Murder in Toa Payoh x Confidence Man and No Place for the Blues x The Yellowgreenhouse.
  • While General Lee’s songs from their eponymous debut album released in 2016 form the bulk of the collaboration, “Murder in Toa Payoh” is one of their newer songs that hasn’t been released on an album yet.
  • “The Yellowgreenhouse” is a monologue written in response to “No Place for the Blues”. It’s a bit of a departure from poetry as I wanted to try something a bit different and I felt the form was better suited to the theme and subject matter of my response to their song.
  • Playwright and director Lucas Ho provides dramaturgy for this performance.
  • We’ll also have drummer Sami Kizilbash sitting in for the show.

It takes place this Sun, 13 Nov 2022 at the Festival Village (roughly between Victoria Theatre and Anderson Bridge).

There’ll be two sets – one from 5pm to 5.45pm and the other from 8pm to 8.45pm – so come for one or both, depending on your schedule (note: both sets have different works).

See you then!

Somewhat bewildered

Joan Allen as Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible (1996).
Joan Allen as Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible (1996).

In Act 1, Scene 2 of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, there’s an exchange between Elizabeth and John Proctor that goes like this:

PROCTOR: You will not judge me more, Elizabeth. I have good reason to think before I charge fraud on Abigail, and I will think on it. Let you look to your own improvement before you go to judge your husband any more.

ELIZABETH: I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, John, only somewhat bewildered.

(Miller; my emphasis)

That line, to me, has always been both the play right there and the most succinct demonstration of Miller’s craft as a playwright.

In contemporary usage, “bewildered” often means perplexed or puzzled.

In certain instances, the word could also refer to someone being confused as to the direction or situation they are heading or in.

In the case of The Crucible, it’s also instructive to return to the more archaic meaning of the word.

Miller aptly uses it, both in the context in which the play is set, as well as to describe Proctor: to be thoroughly led astray or lured into the wild.

To some extent, Elizabeth is describing Proctor’s dalliance with Abigail as an example of his being led astray by her. It’s also a reference to how he has been “bewitched” by her, hence his seemingly odd behaviour.

Yet, bewilderment goes beyond more than just the transgression of sexual and marital mores.

At its core, The Crucible is about identity, in terms of the individual, society and the individual in relation to society.

While the different characters each have their own struggles with identity, Proctor’s struggle is his search for who he truly is as a person.

His bewilderment, then, is not just about how Abigail’s womanly wiles have lured him into the wild.

Much like how Salem has, ironically, corrupted itself in its attempts to retain some semblance of goodness, John’s bewilderment is a result of how he has has lost his way in the wilderness of this corrupted society and, from which, he has to find his way out, if he is to hang on to his self, and all that is good about it.

Online workshop on pedagogy and assessment in Off Centre by Haresh Sharma

I had the privilege, a fortnight ago, of conducting a bespoke online workshop for teachers on pedagogy and assessment in Off Centre by Haresh Sharma.

For participants who signed up, I got a sensing of what they wanted – and needed – to know before designing the workshop to meet their needs.

The eventual workshop objectives:

  • To use reframing as a strategy to creatively employ pedagogical strategies when teaching Off Centre in the classroom.
  • To consider diagnostic methods that identify both students’ learning gaps for national examinations and appropriate learning interventions.

An overview of what was covered:

  1. Introduction
  2. Pedagogy in Off Centre
    1. Sharing of ideas
    2. Activity 1: Brainstorming
    3. Activity 2: Discussion
  3. Break
  4. Assessment in Off Centre
    1. Sharing of ideas
    2. Activity 3: Discussion
  5. Conclusion