By: Mohamed Sufyan (4C)

Just Wright is an annual 16-hour overnight scriptwriting competition organised by the Raffles Players that is open to budding writers from various schools in Singapore. It was established to provide the platform to allow budding writers to explore their talents and capabilities and experiment with the different styles of writing, in the presence of other like-minded individuals from various schools like Raffles Girls School, Saint Joseph Institution, Serangoon Gardens, and Anglo-Chinese School. This collaborative environment allows writers to ask their peers for feedback, opinions and suggestions, which helps them hone their scriptwriting skills.

This year, the competition was held on 14 February, and the response was fantastic—many eager students signed up within days of the announcement about the event. One of the writers, Jeriel Teo (4D) enthused, ‘I’ve always been interested in drama and scriptwriting. Unfortunately, I never really had a chance to write drama as I didn‘t have the platform. When I found out about Just Wright, I realized that this was my chance!’ Geraldine Tiu, a contestant from Serangoon Secondary, said, ‘The first thought that went into my head was “16 hours? Are you nuts?” followed by “Well, do we have to bring sleeping bags?”. It was an interesting invitation to a peculiar event indeed. It was the first time I heard of “Just Wright” and my instincts just yelled “Go for it!”’

Of course we, the organising committee, were not so cruel as to force the participants to write for 16 hours straight. We tried to make the environment as pleasant as possible—the competition was held in the air-conditioned English Studio (ES), and participants were provided with blankets, dinner, breakfast, and snacks.

Participants all ears as Ms Sara Abdullah, teacher-in-charge of Raffles Players, gives instructions at the start of the competition
Participants all ears as Ms Sara Abdullah, teacher-in-charge of Raffles Players, gives instructions at the start of the competition

Now for the rules of the competition: contestants were given four different stimuli at regular intervals across the 16 hours, and the challenge was to incorporate these stimuli into the scripts. It was hilarious, actually, observing how the people reacted to the different stimuli. The first stimulus was the word ‘TRUE’ and everyone got to work. It was all fine, till we gave them the second stimulus. It was an object this time—tea leaves in honey. They started touching it, tasting it, observing it, and playing around with it, trying to figure out what it actually was (besides the organisers and the teachers, the contestants had no idea what the stimulus was).

‘Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!’ the cowbell went. It was 3am in the morning and it was time for their third stimulus—a song by Simon & Garfunkel, appropriately named ‘Wednesday Morning, 3 AM’.

All in a stupor waking up at 3am to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Wednesday Morning, 3 AM’
All in a stupor waking up at 3am to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Wednesday Morning, 3 AM’

‘We’re not going to sleep,’ they said at 3am. ‘We don’t need the sleep,’ they said at 3.30am. ‘Zzzzzz,’ they said, at around 4am in the morning, with half of the ES filled with sleeping people. Well, some were even sleeping outside the ES, on the balcony of the Sheares Block, enjoying the cool breeze.

But of course, we had to wake them up again at 6am for their last stimulus. It was Ms Clarice Ng playing with bubbles at the field next to the S Rajaratnam block. I still remember some of the boys and girls complaining in despair, ‘No… Why did you do this? How am I going to incorporate this into my script now?’

The scriptwriters had quirky ways of getting inspiration. Some walked around. Some danced. Some were chanting. Some were shouting across the block. Some prayed to their god(s). Some simply gorged on snacks.

At 8am, it was almost time to hand in the scripts and, seeing how they were all rushing through the scripts, it looked like most didn’t really make full use of the 16 hours allotted to them. Given how many students these days are prone to doing things at the eleventh hour (the 15th hour, in this case), many tend to overestimate the time at hand and underestimate the work that needs to be done.

Now we, being part of the organising committee, were equally tired. We had to constantly make sure that the food supply did not run out and we had to keep the scriptwriters from sinking into boredom by striking up conversations about various random topics. We also played a few games like charades to relieve ourselves and the stressed-out participants. It was a great avenue for us to make new friends and find out more about the culture of different schools.

Hullett house playwright Alexander Yean (4A) and house captain Jeriel Teo (4D) typing through the wee hours of Saturday morning!
Hullett house playwright Alexander Yean (4A) and house captain Jeriel Teo (4D) typing through the wee hours of Saturday morning!

Nonetheless, it was truly a magical night, not just because it was also Valentine’s Day. It was a time of self-discovery for some of them. Some found within themselves a deep passion for scriptwriting. Some, however, commented, ‘It was torturous! I really can’t write. Pity.’

Sabariesh Ilankathir (3R) commented, before he left the studio, that ‘It was a wonderful writing experience! Being in the presence of other scriptwriters provided me with the creative environment that I needed. The organising committee was also kind enough to let us go wherever we wanted for us to get our inspiration or simply take a walk and calm our minds. I really enjoyed it and I will definitely come again next year!’

We received a whole variety of scripts—topics ranged from revolutions to feminism, and they came in the form of musicals, absurdist plays, naturalistic plays, and many others. We were quite impressed, considering that these scripts were produced in under 16 hours.

All in all, we’ve gotten positive reviews from the participants and we’re hoping that ‘Just Wright’ will make another appearance next year. But for now, to all you budding scriptwriters out there who might be having doubts about your ability to write, we would like to say, ‘Just pursue your passion, and Just Wright!’

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