Transforming ‘A Bright New World’ from book to musical
IT WAS a musical with a difference boasting an original script and music, and an exciting collaboration between Fairfield Methodist Secondary School and Fairfield Methodist Primary School. More importantly, it traced the rich history of Fairfield’s 118 years, spanning traumatic global and local instabilities while reflecting God’s unchanging goodness and faithfulness towards His school.
A Bright New World was first launched as a commemorative book by Fairfield alumni last year. Having transformed this labour of love for the theatre, the Fairfield Family – staff, students, parents, members of the alumni, and well-wishers – gathered at Victoria Theatre on Aug 17 and 18 to celebrate the milestone event of “A Bright New World”, the musical.
Staff and students were involved in every aspect of the production, right from publicity to the production of props. Other noteworthy collaborators included script-writer Raymond Fong, a member of Wesley Methodist Church, and music composer Hansel Tan, from Trinity Methodist Church.
Months of intensive rehearsals and preparations paid off as all three performances enjoyed a resounding success. It was no mean feat for the young cast, between the ages of 12 and 15, to portray staff, students, clergy and other famous well-wishers of the school through the ages.
Especially poignant was their rendition of the scene in the aftermath of World War II when the school faced the sheer devastation of the school premises. Neither was it an easy task for the teenagers to depict the determination of the school leadership trying to raise funds for the rebuilding with scarce help from the local government of the 1940s.
Why the fascination with Fairfield’s history? The answer is clear: Fairfield has a compelling story to tell – from1888 when missionary founder Miss Sophia Blackmore obeyed God’s call to start a school for Chinese girls at Telok Ayer, to 1983, when Fairfield became the first Methodist school to become co-educational.
Understanding the past was also the key to reaffirming the school’s compass for the future – the Fairfield Story continues to unfold as one of an established institution that strives to remain steadfast to its mission of opening bright new worlds to all its students, in spite of prevailing challenges, and by providing an education grounded in Christian truths and a loving God.
The students’ great efforts were rewarded in the most engaging and appreciative audiences. A former student, Eugenia Yip, from the class of 2004, was moved to tears as she was amazed by how the school managed to pick itself up time after time. She also began to realise how precious the school was to her.
So many who had come left celebrating the rich heritage of the school with new understanding and a renewed faith. The memories of this unique production of “A Bright New World” have certainly left an indelible impression in the hearts of all who saw the production, or were involved in it.
Postlude: A month after the musical, the autonomous secondary school gave thanks to God again for receiving the School Distinction Award from the Ministry of Education (MOE). This is the second highest award in the Masterplan of Awards by MOE, and recognises that the school has put in place well-defined processes that lead to sustained achievements in student outcomes.
Fairfield Methodist Secondary School is the only secondary school with the complete range of Special to Normal Technical streams to receive this prestigious award in 2006.
Elsa Quah is a senior teacher at Fairfield Methodist Secondary School and Hia Wan Ching is a teacher at the same school.
Editor: Copies of the book, A Bright New World, are available at $35 each from the General Office, Fairfield Methodist Secondary School, 102 Dover Road, tel: 6778-8702.