When Dark Falls

NUS Stage and Checkpoint Theatre marry the night 

By Mellissa Ang, photos courtesy of NUS Arts Festival

Based on the NUS Art Fest’s theme Asian Cities, NUS Stage and Checkpoint Theatre brings across Singapore’s nightlife through the eyes of seven distinctive characters in the original production City Night Songs.

Like its namesake, City Night Songs illustrates the issues teenagers of different nationalities and backgrounds face in Singapore’s metropolis after dark.

Director Huzir Sulaiman worked with the cast during numerous discussions and workshops to devise the lines, songs and choreography performed in City Night Songs.

The multinational cast of seven, comprising theatre professionals Gani Abdul Karim and Oon Shu An and five NUS students, also brought their own experiences into the scripting process.

Vice President of NUS Stage, Nishant Jalgaonkar, said: “As part of our rehearsal process, the cast spent a night out together in town, including a visit to a Thai disco, Butter Factory as well as Changi Beach to watch the sunrise.”

Throughout the play, the cast brought different stories to the stage with a twist of local flavors through the Cantonese, Malay and Javanese phrases expressed throughout the two and a half hour showcase. Jalgaonkar said: “City Night Songs is both emotional and funny, using realism to show the audience that life presents everyone with surprises.”

Although some of the swear words in different languages and dialects may have made the more conservative squirm in their seats, City Night Songs and its cast brought to the audience’s attention a realistic image of Singaporean youths by amplifying the traits we are all familiar with.

Through the timely stage and sound effects and emotive acting, the cast highlighted social issues involving life choices, homosexuality and cultural differences in their characters’ relationships.

The cast also grew from working with professionals on set. “As Gani is a movement expert, both Shu An and him placed a lot of emphasis on the crispness of movement so we are more conscious of our body and voice in the play,” said Jalgaonkar.

Fellow cast member Joel Tan agreed, adding: “Working with Shu An and Gani has been a revelation. I’ve discovered what the body is capable of expressing and that there are far more complex languages than verbal ones.”

Jalgaonkar lets on his aspirations for future NUS Stage productions: “I hope more students would join NUS Stage to push creativity further and to provide new directions for future plays.”

With that, you can expect every NUS Stage production to be better than the last.