Sunday, June 05, 2005

Storytelling at the MRT - READ! Singapore

If you were at Jurong East MRT station on 2 June 2005, around 2.30pm, you might have caught the "storytelling/play" in the front carriage going towards Woodlands. Two very talented volunteers enacted scenes from the book "εŸŽε—ζ—§δΊ‹" (Cheng Nan Jiu Shi - "Memories of the Southern Suburbs").

Memories of the Southern Suburbs_Lin Haiying
NLB Call No.: LNHY
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Here's a shot of my colleagues and the SMRT staff getting ready. The lady in red (extreme right) was one of the performer, Xiangling (who hails from Guangzhou, China).

Here they are again, making their way to the platform (going North, towards Woodlands Station).

I observed that if one carries an officious looking banner, people will clear a path for you. Notice the wide empty pathway infront of my colleague who's carrying the banner. I wonder if it will work with those people who don't give way for alighting passengers.

My colleague, Peter (Executive, Programmes & Events Management) doing the introduction. To his right (left of picture) is the other volunteer performer, Zhaojia, who also hails from China.

We had space for up to 80 people (teens and adults were our main target audience), but as you can see from the next picture, most of the passengers were really shy. They stayed far, far away.
The 3 guys here are SMRT staff.

Shy but still curious.

Well, after the train passed a few stops, we managed to persuade people to move to the front to watch the play.


Both of the volunteers (teachers in a local language school) were really good. I don't know how to describe it. For several moments, I forgot I was in a train.

Watching the performance made me curious about the book so I'm now flipping through the pages. My ability to read Mandarin not too good though. Anyway, I understand that it's about everyday life in Beijing in the 1930s, as recounted by a young girl named Yingzi. The book is a semi-autobiographical work of Lin Haiying.


The performance ended exactly on cue, at Woodlands MRT station.
End of show.

Storytelling in the train isn't new. SMRT has collaborated with NLB for past two years, holding storytelling sessions -- like this and this one -- in the trains as part of the Great Singapore Stories event.

But a performance targeting at teenagers and adults is something new. It's the first time we're trying out a teen/ adult programme. I wish there were more people attending though. Apparently that week was the school remedial week so we couldn't get that many teens (from our school contacts) to attend. We also learnt that we should have separate publicity for teens (the schedule was grouped with the other SMRT storytelling sessions for Children).

I was talking to the SMRT executive in charged of community projects. It's tough trying to think of ideas to get teens to participate. Maybe a music fest ala "Unplugged"?



  1. This is so awesome... thanks for putting it up Ivan! In a related note, I was taking the train in Tokyo once and a man went between carriages then setup a curtain. We finally figured it out when he proceed to do a puppet show over the curtains... sorta a cross between busking and storytelling. :)

  2. Hi Kevin, I'll pass what you shared to my colleagues. Certainly quite doable for the next Great Singapore Stories.

  3. This is interesting, how i wish i have catch that! To digress abit I take ages to just complete one book and amazed by the amount of books you have read. And thanks for dropping by my pic blog. :)


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