NUS students make sense of a dog eat dog world
By Mellissa Ang, photos courtesy of See Joo Teng
A mirror of our personal sufferings in a world plagued by natural disasters, terrorism and even death on display does not even begin to describe godeatgod. Staged in collaboration between the National University of Singapore (NUS) and The Necessary Stage (TNS), the play made its debut in 2002 and is back with a re-staging for the NUS Art Festival.
A casual dialogue amongst the cast and audience about the 2008 Mumbai attacks kick started the play. Although the audience took some time to warm up to the unconventional opening, the cast’s friendly unaffected demeanor soon had the audience laughing and interacting openly with them.
godeatgod is the story of a grief-stricken woman who questions the existence of a higher being when her husband remains in a coma, demanding extreme changes of emotions from the cast when they shift between the laidback dialogues and emotive scenes.
Taking turns to depict the character God, the cast, made up completely of NUS students, thump wooden poles and stomp their feet to create intense exchanges of between the helpless wife and God. The play revolves around existential questions like whether God exists, and how humans can hold on to faith in light of all the suffering in the world.
Building on flashbacks of the couple’s past when the husband was still healthy, the ending scene will rattle anyone who has experienced the passing of a loved one. A backstage chat with the cast reveals how they related their personal experiences to the play.
First year Theatre Studies major Matthew Jesse Fam said: “As a child, I experienced a lot of deaths in my family. I could bring in the conflict with God, why God is making us suffer. Using my own experience at times of adversity, I could use the emotions I felt then for my performance in godeatgod.”
Valentino DJ Sastra, a third-year Chemical Engineering student from Indonesia shares, related most to the themes of racial and social stability.
“For me, when I moved to Singapore from Indonesia, I admired Singapore for its stability and the presence of racial harmony here. While some may think the stability borderlines on suffocating, I feel Singaporeans are fortunate to enjoy the existing stability which other countries may not enjoy,” he said.
In light of all the suffering and terrorism present in today’s world, Valentino hopes audiences will keep one question in mind: When will our beliefs and our difference in faith become dangerous?