A Singlish version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear performed in the style of the TV game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
These were just two innovative 10-minute productions of Shakespeare’s works put on by some schools at Short Shakes – the Shakespeare Short Play Festival organised by St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) Drama Club.
About 1,200 students and parents attended the three-day festival presented by 19 schools, including St Patrick’s School, St Stephen’s Primary School, Hai Sing Catholic School, CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent as well as both secondary and junior college students from SJI and SJI Senior School.
The event, in celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th birth anniversary, was held at the SJI’s temporary campus at Bishan.
On the first day of the festival, SJI Senior School put on a riotous Singlish version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
St Patrick’s School performed King Lear in the style of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and their rendition, titled Who Wants to be a King? won them the Audience Choice award on the second day of performances.
During their performance on the last day of the event, CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent staged Romeo and Juliet with a local slant, portraying two families, whose children just want to be friends, feuding over a pot of curry.
Hai Sing Catholic School perform an avant garde interpretation of Macbeth, melding humour and pathos.
St Stephen’s School also staged excerpts from Macbeth, while SJI’s drama club produced a murder-mystery musical – a mash-up of Richard III, King Lear, Macbeth, Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet.
“The most important lessons of our lives are learnt through stories,” said festival director Alan Johnson, who is also an English Language teacher at SJI.
“This year we mark an anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest storytellers the world has known. May his stories be told in our voices, that they may echo through time.”
A member of the audience, Mr V Ravindran, 55, from Blessed Sacrament Church commented, “The concept for Short Shakes was excellent – schools staging short sketches based on Shakespeare’s plays. It opened up the world of Shakespeare to students who haven’t yet experienced his works, and it was an opportunity to be creative in presenting these works in a way that appealed to the current generation.
He added, “It was wonderful to watch the primary school kids of St Stephen’s confidently strutting their stuff and spouting Shakespeare without missing a quote. SJI’s hilarious mishmash, and St Theresa’s Muthus and Tans arguing about cooking curry definitely spiced up the original scripts.”