Prison Theatre Singapore

There had been artists, counsellors and educators who had entered the Singapore Prison Service as volunteers even before me. The history of these interactions has not been documented, but when I first entered the Kaki Bukit Centre (Prison School) in 2004 as a full-time English teacher, I was immediately asked by the Principal to start a Drama Club to offer the inmates an alternative, perhaps more wholesome, lifestyle, a lifestyle away from crime and drugs.

2004 marked the beginnings of an official Drama Club which was part of a co-curricular programme for these inmates who were undergoing academic classes from morning till afternoon. It was only later when I was introduced to other practitioners who had done creative works with inmates that I began a practical and academic inquiry into prison theatre, applied theatre, drama therapy and forum theatre.

Prison Theatre in Singapore became my niche.

But as years went by, I had to leave the Prison Education Branch at the end of 2009 due to having maxed out the number of years in a secondment period with the Ministry of Education, prison theatre became unsustainable due to the lack of trained drama educators and applied theatre practitioners working full-time in the prison system.

As a preliminary documentation, here are some of the Prison Theatre performances from 2004 to 2009:

IN-HOUSE PRISON PERFORMANCES (SINGAPORE)

2004: The Mustapha Story (director: Ed Chow)

2005: Heartstrings from the Inside (director: Lim Kay Siu and Neo Swee Lin)

2006: The Toy Story (director: Ed Chow)

2007: {not known} (director: Peggy Ferroa)

2008: {not known} (director: Chris Lee)

2009: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (director: Ed Chow)

 

EXTERNAL SHOWCASES


2006: The Visit (curators: Felicia Low and Noorlinah Mohamed)
An installation of mask, pottery, drawings and journal reflections held at the Substation during M1 Fringe Festival.

2006: Why Me? (director: Ed Chow)
At the ‘Juvenile Crime and Restorative Justice Forum’, held at the Prison School, for members of the public and community stakeholders.

2008: Unsex Me (director: Ed Chow)
By the alumni Drama Club at the Singapore Drama Educators Associaton (SDEA)’s ‘Celebrate Drama’, held at the Arts House.
(The website of the now-defunct alumni Drama Club, ‘Prose & Cons Theatre Lab’, can be found at http://www.freewebs.com/prosencons/)

PROCESS WORKSHOPS IN PRISONS

2008-2009: Life Skills Curriculum (see Life Skills link)

2008: ‘National Youth Achievement Award’ Workshops for Skills Development

2005: ‘Arts Without Limits’ (For a more detailed reflection of the entire process, including pieces of artwork and poetry produced by the student inmates from the Drama Club, please refer to a now defunct blog at http://artswithoutlimits.blogspot.com)

 

Conference Presentation

  1. By UNESCO-NIE Care: “Applied Theatre: Examining the Singapore Context
    http://www.unesco-care.nie.edu.sg/events/applied-theatre-examining-singapore-context

 

Interviews

  1. [2015] On community theatre to be ‘applied’ to at-risk populations:  https://edchow.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/my-responses-on-community-theatre-for-youths-in-singapore-interview/
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