Singapore's first live theatre production on Zoom, Work Play, engaged over 70 youths on conversations about jobs and the future of work.
With jobs and the future of work becoming the top concern of youth post-COVID-19, the National Youth Council (NYC) partnered with How Drama’s Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap to incite meaningful discussion among youth about the future of jobs and their potential career struggles.
The interactive production, titled Work Play, was held on Sep 3 on Zoom from 8 to 9pm. It was attended by over 70 Singaporean youths – including facilitators of the event, cast members and hosts.
As a 20-year-old university student, I was immediately intrigued by this event. Uncertainties about the future – career decisions in particular – have been a consistent source of stress and worry for me recently, especially since the present job market is looking rather bleak.
Work Play promised its attendees a glimpse of youth at work and the different struggles and concerns they grapple with whilst embracing “the new normal”, and I thought the event would be informative and relevant to my concerns.
The session began with introductions from the cast of Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap, as they explained the dynamics of the interactive play.
In total, their aim was to complete 15 different plays in only 30 minutes – each depicting a specific struggle or event likely to transpire at work post-COVID-19.
Though I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, I was thoroughly impressed and entertained throughout the 30 minutes, and laughed a bit harder than I should have at their humorous antics.
My favourite play was Play 8: Fairytale interview – A young woman is at a job interview, hoping to be employed as a preschool teacher. When the interviewer questions her knowledge about fairytales, she then goes on a long rant about how immoral these stories actually are and how she refuses to be complicit in feeding children such “bigoted” and “racist” content.
This made me laugh not only because it was over the top, but also because I agree with her.
The situation was relatable because youths are now increasingly politically aware, and unafraid of challenging societal norms if they find it morally questionable.
It was heartening and hilarious to watch a feisty young woman speak passionately for what she believes is right, even if over a seemingly trivial and innocent request like reading fairy tales to children.
After the play segment was done, the attendees were randomly shuffled into various breakout rooms on Zoom of five to seven people.
My group discussed which plays spoke to us personally and why they were relevant to our lives. We also shared our opinions on the recent viral Facebook post of an employer expressing his disappointment at a group of potential young Singaporean employees, and what all of us were willing or unwilling to sacrifice or compromise for in a job.
Other discussions included the need to continually upskill to remain employable, our concerns with Singapore’s current jobscape, and casual conversations about how our lives were impacted by COVID-19.
The session closed with a quick debrief in the main room in Zoom, where each group was given a chance to share a part of their discussion and the event ended with a short quiz.
Overall, Work Play was a refreshing and humorous approach to engage more youths in serious conversations about their future.
It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one feeling weighed down about the uncertainties of the imminent future, because other youths had shared similar sentiments during the session.
As more engagements like Work Play are underway, I do hope that future engagements can include expert advice, for example on how to secure jobs post-COVID-19 and other practical solutions or tips for youth entering the workforce.
I left the session feeling more hopeful and positive than I did before. To me, events like this are a good place to have meaningful and productive discussions with individuals going through similar experiences – a good step forward when you feel lost or aimless.
And for that reason alone, I feel more encouraged to attend more youth-focussed events like this one in the future.
For more information on the Emerging Stronger Conversations, head here.
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