“One More Light” is our latest forum theatre production which played at Leng Kee and the Lavendar neighbourhoods the last 2 weekends. The title is taken from a song with the same name sung by Linkin Park which has a line asking, “Who cares when one more light goes out in the sky with a million stars?” The youth in our Community Theatre Programme insists that they do care about their friends who are troubled, and their show invites the audience to consider the pain of loss, the helplessness of parents seeking to protect their children from harsh realities and the loneliness of children who do not quite know how to express their hurt.
Both shows attracted about 150 people and what was a little different this time was that half of those present did not live in the neighbourhood. Some told us that they came to support the efforts of our youth while others simply said that it was a different and meaningful Saturday night out. “Rallying people to act on social challenges” is our programme’s tagline and it heartened us tremendously to see people from different backgrounds sitting together on mats and engaging with the range of emotions and situations our young thespians enacted.
People were touched in different ways and with clarification of responses, perspectives changed. A student who took on the role of the “school counsellor” told the “teacher” referring a troubled student to her to do more. What looked like the relinquishing of responsibilities was not so when she explained. “My teachers were the reason why I kept going to school. They supported me during difficult times and that’s why I feel that the teacher should be there for the student more than the counsellor.”
After the show, a teacher who was in the audience shared that she found a scene “guiltily familiar.” She elaborated that like the teacher in the play she has advised students who poured their hearts out to her that they should just move on and think of their bright future. She recognized that students feel barely heard and too often “we attempt to solve things with neat platitudes in 5-minute conversations.”
Yesterday, Singapore came together proudly to celebrate 53 years of nation building. Listening to the updated version of “We are Singapore” moved me tremendously but as I write this note, I think my National Day moment arrived a little earlier this year. At the end of the performance at Leng Kee, a member of the audience who was not a resident of the neighbourhood stood up, offered words of encouragement to the “mother” on stage and then walked over to give her a hug.
Happy National Day weekend.
But growth alone is not enough. Individual Singaporeans must see progress in their lives, must feel that their future is bright, and must know that each one of us has our stake in it. – PM Lee Hsien Loong, (Debate on the President’s Address in Parliament on 16 May 2018.)