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Mere Mortals: Literary Evening 2016

Text by Cheryl Tan (2T01) and Farahna Alam (2T06)

22 July brought CJC a thrum of nervous excitement among the JC2 Literature students amidst the A level grind as months of hard work culminated in the highly anticipated Literary Evening of 2016.

A signature programme of the CJC Literature Department, Literary Evening offers the graduating batch a chance to stage original adaptations of any of the five literary texts they study, synthesising and exploring thematic and technical features of the texts. Past years have seen prequels, sequels, and fusions of texts.

With a simple yet poignant theme, Mere Mortals, the audience was treated to five plays exploring human frailty in a world of literary possibility. Emceed by Jernon and Vienne, the evening opened with a bang with 2T01/21’s Till Sin Do Us Part, a riveting fusion of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Scarlet Letter, where Blanche and Hester are bound by love and lust for a fallen minister. Ending in forgiveness and salvation, this unrelenting strength portrayed the infallibility of sisterhood against the backdrop of a fallen world.

The H1 classes (2T05/16/18/29) proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, as they highlighted the futility of a mother’s helpless actions, with their incredibly heart-wrenching exploration of the Keller family’s inevitable destruction. Archer’s timely appearance in their play, All My Innocence, brings the realisation of the impotence of fighting against fate.

2T04/25’s The Reckoning was a brilliant portrayal of sin as a universal trait. The play initially focused on Blanche’s and Dimmesdale’s sins, dramatised through the fast-paced action of their play. Yet the audience’s perceptions of sin were challenged, as the play ended with a dramatic twist, showing the ubiquity of sin.

2T06’s Once Upon A Dream, an amalgamation of A Streetcar Named Desire and All My Son’s, captured the hearts of the audience through their powerful portrayal of Kate and Blanche living in a world of their dreams. Yet reality punctures their layers of delusions. Blanche’s haunting cry for help at the end proved once again that we are at times powerless against our circumstances.

In its most astoundingly memorable finale yet, this year’s Literary Evening hosted its first-ever alumni performance, Gods Do Not Bleed. With elements of physical theatre and Brechtian flourishes, this play was an abstract portrayal of the power and fallibility of self-styled ‘gods’.

CJC’s Literary Evening 2016 demonstrated once more the creative ingenuity that is possible when students are empowered to experiment and be self-directed in their learning. In translating their learning into works of art, the Literature class of 2016 showed that while they may be mere mortals, they are not merely mortal.