twentythirty is a show that’s more community theatre than avant garde. Sitting in the room full of secondary school students, I felt young again surrounded by youth. As the show began, Dramabox introduced the audience the the concept of forum theatre, which if you weren’t already aware, uses theatre as a means to discuss societal issues, allowing audiences to participate and voice their own opinions in real time.
The main narrative of twentythirty is set in the year 2030, which the government predicted will be the year Singapore would reach 6.9 million people, consisting locals, PRs and foreigners alike. The main story lasts for just under half an hour, but was punctuated with about an hour’s worth of audience opinion and participation. twentythirty features four main characters – a Singaporean Malay and two Singaporean Chinese students, as well as a PR student from China.
The play began with the four with their fists to their chest, signifying taking the national pledge and the idea of ‘one united people’. Yet as the play progressed, it became obvious that it was all words and no heart. The Chinese student is shunned by her counterparts, finding it difficult to integrate and relate to the other local students.
twentythirty brought up multiple conflicts that didn’t necessarily have one right answer. The drama provided many opportunities for students to chime in and debate the issues at hand. It was refreshing and heartening to see that the students in the audience found the issues brought up relevant and provided a robust and lively discussion on the topic, highlighting the difference between merely tolerating the presence of others and wholeheartedly accepting them into a part of their daily lives, which I’m sure resonated with them after leaving the theatre and hopefully, they apply in school as well.
As a show aimed at teens, twentythirty is meant to be an introduction to theatre as a whole, specifically forum theatre. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but provides a different and certainly entertaining platform to discuss pertinent issues in society, the biggest of which is the constantly growing issue of immigration and population makeup, and how we react to that. Kudos to the Singapore Kindness Movement and Dramabox for providing this opportunity for greater understanding and bringing in more youths into the world of theatre.
Pictures are courtesy of Scape.
twentythirty plays at SCAPE till 28 October. Tickets available here