DADP lecturer, Ms. Chang Mei Yee and a group of student helpers engaged with a group of elderly from Jurong Springs Community Centre, exploring with them the history of dialect, its change and its future.
Recapturing an essence of the past world; back when dialects were the main languages and presenting it back to the community with questions for its future path in a theatrical form were the main aims of the project.
In the first few weeks, there was a chit chatting session with the elderly, where their various viewpoints/thoughts about the theme: dialects were gathered. A lot of elderly felt that the diminishing use of dialects compared to past was a shame to see. It was a bittersweet realization for them that the change would be inevitable.
Building up on what was previously discussed in those sessions, the elderly enthusiastically partook in a diverse amount of drama activities ranging from singing different nursery songs such as 天黑黑 (Ti O O, the dark sky), recreating the market scene in the 60s and setting up a their own “museum exhibits” of dialect traditions dramatically and so on.
Stepping into the rehearsal venue, you would be able to witness the elderly running through their lines over and over again, to perfection. They would memorise the actions for their stage play and practise controlling their expressions. During the rehearsals we also witnessed the elderly ad-libbing, and such moments were absolutely hilarious.
Finally, it was time to harvest the fruits of their labour. Wearing brightly lit red clothes the elderly put up a fantastic performance on stage. They did it confidently and received loud applause from the audience!
It was a fulfilling experience, working with such a cheerful and warm-hearted community!
As for the future of dialects, perhaps it is dependent on the shoulders of the younger generation. It will continue to search for its location to reside in.
By Janice Tan Yu Jin
Year 3 student, Diploma in Applied Drama and Psychology, Singapore Polytechnic