Remembering the pioneers’ memories

by | May 27, 2014

Seniors’ drama group, The Glowers, shares poignant memories of the Singapore River in its latest play.


A scene from the play, "Voices of the Singapore River".

With the focus this year on the pioneer generation, it is rather apt that Singapore’s first bilingual seniors’ drama group, The Glowers, is focusing its latest play “Voices of the Singapore River” on pioneer generations’ poignant memories of the Singapore River. The play will run from June 5 to 7 at the Aliwal Arts Centre Black Box.

And there are many – from the first generation coolies and the letter writer who is their only link to their homeland to dining with the frugal, hardworking Samsui women, Singapore’s very first foreign workers in the construction industry. The play is adapted from Roger Jenkins’ book “From the Belly of the Carp”, which won the Singapore Literature Prize in 1995, and will not only have interesting stories that the older generation can relate to but also the younger generation might want to listen to, said founder of The Glower, Catherine Sng. The production’s director, Serena Ho added: “I used the poems as starting points for the cast to improvise and create scenes. The result is a lovely blend of English, dialects and even forgotten rhymes and songs.”

For some of the 22 members of the cast, who are in the ages of 54 to 77, the play brought back memories. “Many things trigger off our memories of people, places and events. Memories of my uncle, my childhood environment and the walks he took me on came back clear as glass while we rehearsed for “Voices of The Singapore River”,” said Carena Chor, 63.

“Acting in this production brings back memories of my boyhood marvelling at the hustle and bustle of the Singapore River – tongkangs (a type of light wooden boat), bumboats and sampans (a relatively flat bottomed Chinese wooden boat) laden with produce plying the river and coolies, merchants and towkays (business owner) on the quayside all busy with their jobs and businesses,” said George Chew, 66.

The play is part of Kampong Glam PAssionArts Festival Celebrations.


** Tickets are priced at S$20 (for those with the Passion card) and $25 (for all standard tickets). Showtimes include: 8pm (June 5 & 6), and 3.30pm and 8pm (June 7). To purchase tickets, call 8396 2078.



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