"The Chief's Son"
"Once upon a time, a long time ago, in this tiny village where we lay our scene."
The opening lines of Benjamin's Ng's "The Chief's Son" echoed around Hwa Chong Institution's Performing Arts Centre as the Raffles Players began their Gold with Honours winning performance.
The play tells the story of a young boy named Kim who is captivated by the dramatic tales of Manolo, the storyteller. He listens with delight to stories of "The Father who Killed the Tiger" and "The Boy Who Climbed Over the Mountain". Kim's commitment to his Father and to his duties as a Chief's son are tested as Manolo goads him into leaving the tranquil village for the hustle and bustle of the city. The play explores balancing familial commitment with following one's heart and desires. As the play progresses, we see Kim's fate intertwining with Manolo's colourful stories.
The arduous journey to one of the most memorable performances of our lives began months earlier—in rehearsals. The entire creative process began with experimentation, with trying out new and different things in an attempt to not just put on a play, but to tell a story. The objective was to make something out of almost nothing. Armed with only 4 benches and a handful of percussion instruments, the Raffles Players began piecing together our interpretation of "The Chief's Son".
Every one of us faced different challenges along this journey. For some, it was coping with the reality of expectation as they made their first foray into drama. For others, the challenge was all together more sublime—struggling to stay true to the playwright's vision as they tried to put their own spin on a character.
In the end, each of us found our own as we took to the stage to perform our creation—a unique blend of experimental physical theatre and traditional naturalistic portray. As we wowed audiences at the SYF 2007 Drama Presentation, we felt a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. We did it.
But through all this excitement and fervour, we never forgot that "The Chief's Son", would never have been possible without the efforts of some very important people. The Raffles Players are forever indebted to Ms. Mabel Chia, Ms. Divina Teo, Mr. Julius Foo—our external trainer—and, of course, Ms. Quah Seok Whee for their tireless commitment to the production.
"The Chief's Son" will forever have a special place in the hearts and minds of those who helped make it a reality—for it was not just a play; it was a story that exemplified the spirit of theatre and drama.