INTRODUCTIONIn applied theatre practitioner, hopes to resonate the

INTRODUCTIONIn modern day, the value of Singapore as a nation is unquestionable, having grown into one of the most advanced city states in the world, and being widely renowned for its status of being at the forefront of technological and societal development. However, does Singapore truly live up to the evolving expectations placed upon it if there are still neglected and forgotten communities lingering within the ranks of its society? And who are they and what are they struggling with? In this documentation project, we will be looking at the issue of poverty within the Lengkok Bahru rental flat community. Through the use of forum theatre, an applied theatre technique, Izzaty Ishak, an applied theatre practitioner, hopes to resonate the issue of poverty to the society. The rationale of bringing theatre into communities came from the realisation that poverty is real and prevalent in the estate, yet often not brought to light. Izzaty Ishak has produced plenty of applied theatre works under the initiative ‘The Community Theatre’. Some of her forum theatre works include Sayang and Behind Open Doors. As a social worker herself, her works are often site specific, by the community, and for the community. She deals directly, working, devising with the intended audience members themselves.BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION OF THE PROJECTForum theatre is a participatory art form that helps in facilitating a dialogue, and reaching out to a community of a specific issue that is important to them. By applying real-life situations into theatre, it raises awareness about situation in the society and how we, as society members can respond in making this world a much better place. As an unconventional theatre form, standard theatrical setting is not necessary. Instead, spaces such as community centres, parks, streets, prison and rehabilitation venues, healthcare sites can be substituted. This way, it will not limit participation nor accessibility of the public and audience members and create a more genuine response and impact on the audiences.As a transformative agent, it places audience or participants in direct and immediate situations where they can witness, confront, and deconstruct aspects of their own and others; actions and respond almost immediately. In larger scale, it helps the silent and marginal communities to voice out their concerns; through raising awareness, posing alternative, healing psychological wounds or barriers, and challenging contemporary discourses. It interrogates what is possible for them to change in their lives and how they can build a network together that is not powered by fractured, violent, and oppressive encounters.Going back to the root of Forum theatre, two techniques were born – Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal and Epic Theatre by Bertolt Brecht. Theatre of the Oppressed was inspired by educator and theorist Paulo Freire to promote social and political change. Audiences become spec-actors and explore, show, analyse and transform the reality they are living in. According to Augusto Boal, forum theatre came from “simultaneous dramaturgy” due to the dramatic formatting of the topic by the actors with the goal to break the oppression at the end of the show. In the Theatre of the Oppressed, actors are usually from the oppressed communities and a script is played out the first round. Then, it will be performed another round, but this time, also allow the spec-actors to participate and respond to the situation. Augusto Boal made it clear that the point is to discover the possibilities rather than show the correct answer. With forum theatre, it simulates how one can practice resisting the oppression or make a change and then applying to a real life situation. In this way, it motivates the participants to be more proactive and gain courage to break such oppressive situations in real life after feeling more prepared and confident in resolving the conflict. Currently, there are at least two known theatre companies that focuses on such. They are Cardboard Citizens from the United Kingdom and Theatre of the Oppressed NYC from New York City, the United States of America. Cardboard Citizens have been focusing on homelessness for more than 25 years while the Theatre of the Oppressed NYC have been focusing on real-life struggles such as HIV/AIDS, immigrants, veterans and formerly incarcerated people. On the other hand, there is epic theatre, a theatrical movement that rose in the early-mid 20th century based on numerous theories and practice of theatre practitioners (including Erwin Piscator, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold and, Bertolt Brecht) responding to the political climate of the time through the creation of a new political theatre. Bertolt Brecht was against the falsely-presented reality in the theatres and aimed to avoid emotional investment in the characters. With this, he applied Verfremdungseffekt, also known as the ‘v’ effect, the act of distancing the audience from emotional involvement. He also came up with the “breaking of the fourth wall” where an imaginary wall exists between the actors and audiences which had kept them as observers. With the fourth wall broken, the audiences become active members of the theatrical experience as they are constantly kept thinking throughout the show rather than sit back with their minds switched off. In epic theatre, the narrative starts and ends, leaving issues unresolved, and confronting the audience with questions about what they’ll do. Epic theatre also shows an argument. It’s a clear political statement. The audience remains objective and watches a montage or a series of scenes. Standing outside the action emotionally, the audience can study the story objectively and should recognise social realities. One example is the National Theatre explains Brecht’s philosophy about using objectivity and distance in his work and also looks at the staging of Mother Courage and Her Children. Currently in global context, there is Theatre for Development movement which serves as a development tool to help empower communities, listen to their concerns, and encouraging them to voice and solve their own problems. In short, it is a tool of communication in development projects, a kind of participatory theatre, that encourages improvisation and audience members to take roles in the performance, or can be fully scripted and staged, with the audience observing. This movement has taken place all over the world as early as the 1800s, including Africa and the United States of America.In the local context, Theatre in Singapore has always had an active role with the society. In the 1950s, activism was prevailing, especially with the Chinese school community. As such, theatre were often use as a liberating tool in responding to the social situation. The students and theatre activists put up plays that speak for them, often reflecting and propagating their vision of the ideal society free from colonial control and the oppression caused by rapid modernisation. The movement died down after the intervention of government. ?Moving forward, 1980 is the time when English language theatre started to flourish in Singapore. Young practitioners seek to find a Singaporean voice in their works. Hence, looking inwardly for social issues that speak to the public. The necessary stage devised their own Forum theatre pieces and brought it to different factories and communities’ venues. Once again, the movement was halted as government was fearful of open discussion, that it may become uncontrollable and be a threat to national security, imposed a de-facto ban to the form.? Despite, the necessary stage continued with their engagements in various community settings.??By 1990s, Drama Box followed and started staging Forum Theatre pieces at outdoor community places, while working with marginalised communities. Over the years, a wave of activities and increasing number of practitioners started dipping their toes into this field.  By the 2000s, many non-profit organizations and initiatives have practiced Forum theatre. Notably Migrant Voices, Forum theatre was combined with interdisciplinary forms, such as visual arts and music. Now, the Institutional development has evolved and catch up with this new movement. In 2002, the Singapore Drama Educator Association was formed in promoting and advocating drama through dialogue with other stakeholders. In 2007, Singapore Polytechnic offered the first Applied Drama and Psychology course in Singapore.However, in the context of Singapore. The challenge of Forum theatre in the society can still remain. A closer look at the ACSR have shown that government heavily view arts and culture primarily as products that will aid in economic development. The focus on product contravenes the spirit of applied theatre, forum theatre where process is valued often more than the product.Forum theatre also encourages dialogue, and allows diverse and dissenting voices to be heard. The openness to this form encourages not only mainstream views but also the alternative ones. Therefore, support or acceptance of this ethos would also require the Singapore government, that is known to be wary of dissent, to have a paradigm shift in the way they view active community participation and open discussion. The government have to understand the importance that it is crucial for society members to make the change themselves with the help of the community. With that, forum theatre will thrive and continue to help the society. INTENDED METHODOLOGYThe methodology used will draw on both primary and secondary sources. The main process will be interviews with the artist, Izzaty Ishak. We also aim to interview the members of the project and as well as participants. We will attend and document the devising process and rehearsals through observation, note taking, photography and videography for the purpose of understanding how the issue is been devised, and being portrayed through forum theatre. Secondary data will be obtained from researches, past works and interviews with Izzaty Ishak and gain feedback from the participants of the project and as well as audiences. Refer table below for the breakdown of the methodology.S/NTasksDocumentation tools1Research processPoverty in rental flat communityWhat is the current/ ongoing situation in Singapore?Data analysis of the issue locally and globallySociety’s reaction/response to this issueForum theatreWhat is forum theatre?What is this technique?Purpose of this technique?How did it come about?How does it differ in both local and global context?Izzaty Ishak (artist)Who is she?What is her role in forum theatre?Why does she do forum theatre?What kind of issues/ topics/ subjects does she touch on through forum theatre?What has she done so far, both locally and globally, if any?Online JournalsBooksOnline websitesVideos relating to forum theatreRecent/ current forum theatre productions 2Interview the artist, Izzaty Ishak, to find out the purpose of her practice, and milestones. Potential questions:What is the art form (forum theatre)?What can forum theatre do in the local/ global context?What is her style/ technique? Who are the groups/ fellow theatre peers she work with? Why this particular issue/ groups?Challenges faced?How is forum theatre different locally/ globally?Field notesVideo recordingAudio recording3Attend rehearsals and performanceObserveParticipate as an audiencePhotographyVideographyField notes4Interview/ gain feedback from the cast, other members and some audiences of the project. What do we want to find out?Who are they?How did they get involved?What are their thoughts on using forum theatre to tackle social issues, specifically poverty in rental flat community?What do they think of forum theatre as an art form?What was observed differently from a mainstream theatre show versus community theatre piece?Impact of this project individually as a member of the societyDid the issue resonate well with the use of this art form?Video recordingAudio recordingField notes5Analyse and compile a soft copy of the documentation for final presentation/ final assignment submission in week 15/ 16TIMELINEDateTaskRemarksJan 2018 Brainstorming ResearchBooks, online journals, articles on forum theatrePast interviews, posts, documents relating to artist’s past/current works5/1: Contact the artist (Izzaty Ishak), come with an agreement30/1: Submit proposalFeb 2018 – Apr 2018Documentation processObserve rehearsals Friday, Leng kee Community Centre, 7pm to 9.30pm (tentative)Interview with Izzaty Ishak (artist), cast/ members involved in the project, and audiences. Documentation analysis and compilationTranscribe interviews, audio and video recordings after each rehearsalData organisation, analysis and conclusion after each rehearsal and reflect on the projectPen down the progress and compile the documentation materials from start to end for presentation and report and also for Izzaty’s documentation and archival. Transcribing and compilation of documentation materials will be organised, edited and reflected on after each rehearsal.Analysis and reflection will be made after each session for documentation and progress.15 April 2018Final assignment submission15 min presentation and a written reportJuly 2018PERFORMANCE (participate as an audience) REFERENCESBalfour, Michael. “The Politics of Intention: Looking for a Theatre of Little Changes.” Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 14, no. 3, 2009, pp. 347–359., doi:10.1080/13569780903072125.Boal, Augusto, and Charles A. McBride. Theatre of the Oppressed. Theatre Communications Group, 2013.”GCSE Drama – Epic theatre and Brecht – Revision 1.” BBC Bitesize, BBC,, Loren. “African Theatre in Development, and: African Theatre Women (Review).” Theatre Journal, vol. 55, no. 4, 2003, pp. 738–740., doi:10.1353/tj.2003.0174.Boon, Richard, and Jane Plastow. Theatre and empowerment: community drama on the world stage. Cambridge University Press, 2010.Hurd, Lori. “Theater as a means of moral education and socialization in the development of Nauvoo, Illinois, 1839-1845.” 2004.McCarthy, Julie, and Karla Galvão. Enacting participatory development theatre-Based techniques. Earthscan, 2004.Mienczakowski, Jim. “Theatre of Change.” Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 2, no. 2, 1997, pp. 159–172., doi:10.1080/1356978970020202.Nicholson, Helen. Applied Drama: the Gift of Theatre. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.Sloman, Annie. “Using participatory theatre in international community development.” Community Development Journal, vol. 47, no. 1, 2011, pp. 42–57., doi:10.1093/cdj/bsq059.Taylor, Philip. Applied theatre: creating transformative encounters in the community. Heinemann, 2003.Wang, Wan-Jung, et al. “New Imaginings and Actions of Drama Education and Applied Theatre in NIE4 in Asia.” Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 18, no. 1, 2013, pp. 79–93., doi:10.1080/13569783.2012.756182.Wang, Wan-Jung. “Reimagining Communities and Implementing Social Learning: Contemporary Community Theatre Development in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.”Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 19, no. 4, Feb. 2014, pp. 388–402., doi:10.1080/13569783.2014.954818.


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