It was all drama and laughter at this year’s Drama Fest 2016, a showcase of original works and recruitment of fresh talent.
The annual Drama Fest organized by City Harvest Church’s Drama Ministry is a platform for original creative work to be showcased while providing an opportunity for fresh talent to join the ministry.
The fourth instalment of this annual event happened this year on Sunday, Aug 7 at Suntec Theatre on the sixth floor of Suntec Convention Centre.
The theme this year was “Laugh!”; six original short plays exploring different perspectives of laughter namely laughter caused by happiness, madness and evil. All the plays were created and performed by the ministry members.
One of the shows that struck a chord with the audience was “Finding Joy”, a romantic comedy written by Lingual Tan in which a 34-year-old female, played by Madeline Teo hires a fake boyfriend to accompany her to a friend’s wedding. In the end, she realises that honesty is still the best policy, especially when it comes to friendship.
Ministry director Sandy Yeo explains that the Drama Fest allows the DM members to go beyond from the “confines” of Christian-themed performance art which is the genre the ministry specialises in. The festival has the aim of allowing members to explore different genres, themes, plays and roles to expand their repertoire. It also seeks to raise up new directors, actors, scriptwriters, stage managers and costume designers.
“The Drama Ministry provides artistic and creative people a place to grow and hone their talents, using their gifts as evangelistic tools to win souls for God,” adds co-director Jaslynn Khoo.
Preparations for the Drama Fest began about three to four months ago. The theme was set and announced to the writers, who had about a month to work on their story pitches and submissions. Yeo and Khoo then recruited directors for these works from among the senior ministry members.
Auditions are then held for actors and rehearsals take place for two months before the performance on Drama Fest day.
The Drama Fest is open to all members of CHC, and typically draws dozens of aspiring dramatists to sign up for ministry membership.
The Chinese saying: “a minute on stage takes 10 years of practice off stage” applies to what the Ministry does. This year’s Drama Fest took nearly four months of preparation. Big Easter or Christmas productions, preparations take about six months, and involve other departments and ministries, including audio, lighting, television, visual communication, backstage, costume and make-up.
Referencing Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain,” Yeo recognizes that spiritual factor is most important in the ministry. “The role of the DM is to tell the story so well and carry God’s presence so much that the audience will be touched, not just through their emotions but truly by God Himself,” she explains.
The camaraderie between the DM members is strong and genuine, which translates to excellence on stage. “They are so willing and sacrificial in their ministry calling,” says Yeo. “Even the backstage crew and Costume Ministry members are so helpful and go beyond their call of duty to support the rest. In a nutshell, their hearts love God and one another.”
Khoo adds, “Our DM members work very hard for each production and they see one another through thick and thin. They encourage one another under stressful times and have all become very close.”
“DM is where I get to be around a lot of fun people; it’s like a family,” ministry member Jeremy Teo. “I was guided, encouraged and given a lot of learning opportunities which I’m thankful for.”
Backstage crew member Amos Wong is proud of his team. “All the sets, making and sourcing of props are done by the backstage crew. The crew is required to be meticulous, focused and organised. I am a part of a group of people who help to support the moments when many people are led to God. Winning the lost for the Lord is what motivates me to serve.”
For Emily Lau, who is a member of the sub-ministry, the Costume Ministry, the open-armed acceptance by her team mates is what drives her. “I’m someone who knows nothing about fashion, but they accept me for who I am, and they guided me when I joined the ministry. This ministry is a good platform to learn the spirit of excellence and how to be sharp when it comes to details.”
A DRAMATIC PROPOSAL
Long-time ministry member and actor Shawn Wong surprised the whole auditorium during Drama Fest when he knelt down to propose to his girlfriend, Regina Kam. Both came to be acquainted with each other through the ministry many years ago. The proposal (and acceptance) was met with loud applause and cheering from their fellow ministry members.
The Drama Ministry is currently open for recruitment. If you are interested, please sign up via your cell group leaders or log on to http://www.chc.org.sg/#!serve-in-a-ministry/drama/.