contributed by Shiv (1P), written by Dylan Yap (4C) and Tan Wei Jun (4C)
5th June. The day that Singapore unveiled the Opening Ceremony for the 28th edition of the Southeast Asian Games, otherwise known as the SEA Games. With Singapore celebrating her 50th birthday since achieving independence, the government has successfully launched a bid to host the biennial SEA Games this year. In preparation for the grand opening ceremony for the SEA Games, the organisers have wasted no time in recruiting schoolchildren from around Singapore to be part of the ceremony. This included our very own Year 1s, who have rehearsed for the performance tirelessly for weeks in the leadup to the opening ceremony on the 5th of June. But have you wondered what really goes on behind the scenes? What secret place have they been at all this time to conduct those rehearsals? This article will reveal all these and more through the following tongue-in-cheek insights written by our very own Year 1, Shiv!
The SEA Games practice sessions were to take place at an NS camp, Khatib camp, a place that I, having never seen it before, expected to be nothing but a large stone field in the middle of some hidden forest in some desolate, remote part of Singapore. Of course, I did not expect exactly that, but when the bus turned and entered a place that was all buildings, and with music playing (that is, until the phone the music was being streamed from began ringing) I was quite shocked. My gaze eventually fell on the small pieces of tape on the ground in the carpark. My curiosity led me to a conclusion I very much disliked. We were going to practise on the carpark. We alighted from the bus and were led directly to another unexpected feature of the NS camp – the auditorium.
In the auditorium, our seating arrangements were shifted around a bit so we were organised according to the bus we took. Unfortunately, there was quite a big shortage of seats. And so, students from Bus 3, and those who came to the camp directly, ended up sitting on the stage. Unfortunately, this was not enough. Some of us, including me, ended up sitting on the stairs beside the chairs.
Soon after, we were taken down to the carpark. Each of us was passed a tag as we went down. The tags had number- letter combinations on them, each one corresponding with a piece of tape on the ground. I found my position quickly and took a look around me. Directly in front of me was a rugged looking army truck, upon which stood our choreographer in a singlet. The contrast between this outfit and the one he wore the last time (a jacket on a t-shirt), made me realise the contrast between the temperature here and where we were the last time, the school hall. It really was sweltering.
After learning our cues to turn around and stand up or kneel (which was rather painful thanks to the rocky asphalt ground) we returned to the auditorium, where we were given a five minute break and a bottle of water. After relaxing for a while (on the steps, unfortunately) we went back down to practise the same sequence an unnecessarily excessive amount of times. I was exhausted and quite frustrated at repeating the same thing over and over again. The next break could not have come sooner. This time, they gave us food. Sandwiches were distributed to all the students.
I decided to refrain from eating the sandwiches, lest my asphalt-stained hands make it too dirty for my consumption, me being extremely hygienic. Shiv 1, Bacteria 0.
After the break, we went out and began to practise once again. After quite a while, the practice session finally ended. We were bussed back to school, from where I took the MRT home, feeling as exhausted as can be.
The next session was slightly more eventful, but not in a good way. Firstly, the choreographers spent quite some time identifying absentees and filling in their spaces. Unfortunately, we were made to sit there all the while, which was rather boring.
After a fairly similar day followed, the practice session ended. Slowly, large groups left the camp as their buses arrived. But our bus never did. Half an hour after everyone had left, there was still no sign of the bus. Only two teachers remained; our Year Head, Mr Lai, and our bus in-charge. Eventually, Mr Lai allowed us to leave by taxi if our parents allowed. Mine did not. Finally, at 2 pm, two hours late, a Marina Square shuttle bus arrived to take us back to school. From there, my father picked me up.
Sessions 3 & 4
The following sessions were fairly unremarkable, aside from two events. On one of the sessions, the first of the ‘Combined Component Rehearsals’, a group of younger students had practice alongside ours. During our breaks, which were now quite long, they would practise, and during their breaks, we would. The younger group was composed of student from three schools, one of which being Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), my old school. The next unusual event was in session 4, when the three schools (RI, RGS and Methodist Girls’ School) involved in our performance, each practised a certain segment separately. During our practice, all of the other students gathered to watch for their amusement. It was somewhat embarrassing, but we overcame it by loudly applauding ourselves right after each run-through.
Session 5 was notable in that it was utterly uneventful. For most of the day, we sat in the canteen entertaining ourselves while, as we were later told, the choreographers were retagging us. Some of our tags were incorrect, causing multiple people to be assigned one spot, nobody to be assigned a certain spot, etc. Thus, some of us ended up getting different tags, though many, including me were given the same tags. Nothing happened until the session was almost over and soon we were heading back to school.
Time flew quickly, and it was soon the opening ceremony. Many students were fully decked out in their LED vests and ‘moon boots’, ready to give their best.
After we were bussed to our venues, we got ready with a great deal of efficiency, dressing up and taking our positions on stage in record time. The air was solemn, yet proud. It was the culmination of all our efforts – it was finally showtime! Our hands swayed in harmony and our heads bobbed together as one, united in our fluid, flawless actions. It was a sight to behold, with many of the spectators thoroughly impressed.
Act 1 – cut! A sigh of relief, a jump of joy, a swell of pride. But there’s still Act 2. And 3. And 4. Until 10. While we had practiced hard for our act, our individual efforts were still only a cog in the grand scheme of things. It is only through our collective performance that we are truly able to fill in the spaces and make the entire SEA Games opening ceremony a true success, for our nation, our country our home.