Tag Archives: Participant

Things I’ve Learnt in the 24 Hour Playwriting Competition

1. Don’t put so many things in your bag. You think you superman, can carry so many things ah? In the end spare clothes also never use, what. Then bag so heavy only got one jacket – how to survive aircon?

2. Go with buddy. Even if you got no friend right, find friends to go enter with you. Must make sure they are siao siao like you, so can give each other tips and inspiration.

3. Make friends. You think you got only one friend very tuah is it? Want to form gang must have at least 10 people lor. Aiya, other people also can support and encourage you what, but must make sure they slaughter chicken and perform the brotherly rites first.

4. No need to go supermarket and buy snacks. Got people like Soo Mei (thank you ah), confirm get free food one. Even if the place ulu ulu you also won’t starve one, because got organizer look after you mah. Then again hor, you pay $35 must be worth it lah.

5. Take pictures! Walk around and see everything, don’t recluse. Later got inspiration one. I confirm chop guarantee you.

6. Treat the place like your home. Can wear slippers around or those very kiam chai short shorts nobody also care. As long as you not cold can already. Wear contact lens also no use because later very hard to take out then you take out also bang into wall. Wear nerdy thick thick specs la! Nobody say anything, what.

7. When you submit play ah, check if you follow the stimuli properly. Don’t geh kiang anyhow add things to save your play. You not Shakespeare, so don’t try to act smart. They give you stimuli for reason okay!

8. And at the end hor, if you think your play is like shit and the most salah one of all, is okay. Still got next year, what. Really. That guy queueing up behind you? His play very lousy one lah!. Anyway, at least you got try, better than never finish, what.

This entry is entitled, “Things I’ve Learnt in the 24 Hour Playwriting Comepetition,” ( to be read in the most Ah Beng/Ah Lian/Auntie  way possible.)

After entering the competition, I found that I was more Singaporean than I’d ever imagined. It highlights the little idiosyncrasies I possess, and how I am just a very Singlish Singaporean at the heart of it all. It chronicles what I experienced during the competition, and was inspired by my friend, Aik Wee. This note is also dedicated to Chris, who went with me and inspired me along the way.

– Shi Min


24hrs at Marina Barrage, playwriting, supposedly… quite randomly

Big Bag – Small Bag

I got there at around 3pm, joined the queue at registration. There was a young lady in front of me, filling in her particulars on the indemnity form, with only one little backpack next to her.

“But where are the rest of her things?”, I thought… and I laughed to myself, slightly embarrassed.

Yes, I was one of those who came lugging a huge bag, stuffed with items, many which remained unused, untouched even as I lugged it back home.

First Time?

I believe everyone would be asked at least once – “Is this your first time?”; “Have you done this before?”; “Which year? And where did you do it?”.

Asleep / Awake

2-6am. This was my favourite time.

Indoors, many were curled up on the carpeted floor, some in their sleeping bags, some in deep sleep, snoring. A few were still writing, sometimes rather furiously. Some slept, waking at random intervals to write, feverishly with eyes glazed, and then back to sleep again. The sound of typing never stopped.

Downstairs, some had red-bean soup (courtesy of Soo Mei). Outside, some were chit-chatting, joking, laughing, clapping at the mosquitoes. Further out, others were bonding over smoke breaks.

A few wandered alone, walking up the spiral park, expecting solitude, intruding into private moments of unsuspecting couples.

Still, there was space for all. The night breeze up there was sublime.

I was surprised to read (a few days later) what I wrote during that time-frame, and thought how bizarre it was what I was writing.


The bamboo-bow for our first kite broke, so we opened another pack, and had 2 rolls of kite string which we tied together to fly our kite twice as high as everyone else’s.

I shan’t wax lyrical here, but the experience was really memorable.

It did, however, because of our extra-length of string, take much longer for us to get our kite back. That wasn’t so fun.

But the weather was nice.

Final Stimulus

12pm. It gets exciting, you can hear the typing, like thin-plastic raindrops pitter-patter, in surround-sound, filling the room.

For some of us, fatigue suddenly set in, and in spite of the lessening time, crashed.

Submission – Reception

The result of 24 hours of thinking, plotting, vexing… a memento of completion, like a trophy in itself, a script in our hands.

And of course, the people, especially those we’d normally never expect to meet in our daily lives. That was a smashing bonus, and perhaps a great motivator for future participation.


And then we were home. Quite abruptly.

~AikWee, 23 July 2009

The 24 Hour Experience (Part II) by E.


She was stuck. She looked around her, taking in all the details. The white walls. The full length glass windows. The half-drawn curtains. The pale evening light, streaming in. Dust in the air, silver stars. Ten people. Six armchairs. One couch. The grey, grey carpet.

“What are you doing here?” It was a familiar voice. She looked up to see who it was. It was that boy she had met last week at group therapy. “Did you come alone? Come, come join me and my friends. We’re having a tea party!” He looked at her confidently, and had a glint of mischief in his eyes. She found herself following him. They walked quickly, past all the rooms. He stopped at the end of the long corridor, and kicked open the door to his room. He introduced her with a sense of propriety. He then sat down with his friends and beckoned her to do the same. There were four of them, and they were sitting in a circle, by the window. She recognized one of them. He raised his hand, and gave her a small wave. She had met him last week too. One of them was looking up at her, studying her with a child-like curiosity, it was rather touching. So young, she thought, and she stood there, smiling. The Pied Piper, and his children, she thought to herself.

The Pied Piper cleared his throat, and began to give a speech: “Welcome to our world! We’re all mad here. Let’s celebrate! I propose a toast to self-control! (singing) Let the children use it, let the children lose it, let all the children boogie…” They were laughing heartily and a conversation had begun to take off. One line after another, in different tones, distinct voices created a sense of life; against the cold white walls and the echo of silence from outside. Their words, like colourful balloons, bounced off the floor, some rested themselves against the ceiling, some floated in mid-air, while some were tumbling across the floor. She observed them, allowing herself to fade. Time passed. Seconds, and minutes.

It was time for the second dose of the day. The party was over. They had to separate, and return to their rooms.

Solitary. She sat down, and began to feel claustrophobic. She began to notice something, which she couldn’t put into words. The view from inside her room, through the glass window. Something was wrong. What was it? It’s all so exhausting, she thought. She remained in the silence, in absence, dwelling in her own history, searching within herself, for something, for someone. She looked up.

There were kites. Kites, bits and dots of colour, flying high in the vast expanse of the sky.

There were people outside, walking towards the rooftop, enjoying the simple things in life – the setting sun, the blue skies, and the sea breeze. There had been talk of the haze returning to their shores, but for now, the skies were clear. If there was any pollution at all, it was generated by the sprawling city itself. Just next to the asylum was the large construction site for one of the most expensive casinos in the world. It was a time of possibilities. It was all about to change.

“Are you ok?” The Pied Piper had popped his head round the door to check on her. He looked at her and asked, “Why are you so quiet?”

She couldn’t answer him. She wanted to cry.

The 24 Hour Experience (Part I) by E.


To be stuck in a room with glass windows, for 24 hours, at the Marina Barrage.

You really don’t remember, do you? … I don’t. Do I? I don’t remember. “Could it be denial?” the therapist had asked. She couldn’t get over it. It kept repeating itself. Her thoughts often did that, and so did her speech, and her actions. Stop. Rewind. Play. Pause. It was “maybe”. That was her reply. Maybe. What does that mean?

She had come alone. She had been wandering around. She found herself in the hallway, with residents sitting around, some were sitting by the glass windows. She had been looking for a good spot to place herself in. What am I doing here? She asked herself. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I wanted to be a writer. I just wanted to write. That’s all. She looked around her and she couldn’t take it anymore. She felt suffocated. It was as if someone was choking her.

“Excuse me, do you know what’s going on? It’s my first time here. I have no idea what’s going on.” From behind his glasses, he was judging her, she knew it. He had given her a once-over, and he was deciding whether or not she was pretty, whether she was too fat or too flat, whether or not she was worth being nice to. He was wearing a red sweater, and she liked the colour red. “Oh they’ve just given us the first dose for the day. It’s my first time here too. Why? Do I look like I’ve been here many times?” He asked, jokingly. She noticed his shaven head, which made him seem rebellious. She liked rebels. “Have you taken the first dose? You can go get it now from the doctor.” He gestured, lazily. “Oh, ok. … Is there anyone sitting here?” She asks, and she thought to herself, how alone I must seem. “Yeah, you can sit here. We can share this couch.” He replied politely, and he made space for her. “Thank you,” she said. She sat down, relieved.

There was another man sitting on one of the six dark-grey armchairs which were randomly placed along each side of the hallway. He was seated just adjacent to them. “Is this your first time here?” She repeats herself. “Yes it’s my first time,” he replied quickly, smiling self-consciously. He didn’t want to talk to her, she knew that. They remained in a comfortable silence.

At that moment, she could hear them, she could hear people, from where she was sitting. Thinking to themselves. Those in their rooms, those solitary, sitting, silent. They owned themselves. Eccentric by choice, in absolute solitude, in the flight of the mind.

The asylum stood at the edge of the island, just down the southern tip of the mainland; and they existed from a distance, away from civilisation, in a thumping, roaring silence.

(To be continued)

Here is my thought hours before the competition

I look forward to this new challenge with trepidation…as I am not a professional playwright but someone who is just curious as to if I can take up play-writing as a new interest.

But what on earth is a stimulus? What if my mind is not stimulated by the stimuli? What do I do with it? I only know what is an alkali haha…But it is kind of nice to be plugged into the world of creative writers. I may not look forward to the challenge of writing impromptu but I do look forward to meeting all the people in a tranquil setting. Besides, I have not had the chance to step foot in the Marina Barrage yet. Thanks for providing me with this push.

Lam Mun Wai

Participant, Saturday, July 18 9:59M

The Eleventh Hour Blog Post

Am writing this at the eleventh hour (literally – it’s 11+ pm!) on the eve of the 2009 24-hour playwriting competition… And as much as I would like to sound learned and esoteric and sophisticated and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, my feelings can only find expression in one (debatable) word – w00t! 😀

Staring at the Survival Kit (and procrastinating the actual packing), I’m awash (ahaha) with memories of my very first 24-hour playwriting…

In a whirlwind of 3 days, I’d seen the newspaper advert for the pre-contest workshop, attended, signed up, bugged 2 friends into signing up with me, frantically crammed on playwriting techniques all the way up to the last minute…

And then the day arrived, and the only thing I could think of was: “What should I wear?!?!”

Okay, to be honest, I did all my obsessing about favourite pens and writing paper and lucky soft toys and all that the night before… But I wanted to wear something artistic, something creative, that might help inspire me through the long hours ahead, and hopefully be comfortable enough to catch some shuteye in. I ended up with probably the ugliest-looking outfit in the history of the 24-hour playwriting competition! (You can probably spot me in the 2002 photos… Then again, please don’t.)

But the REAL advice I want to give to new participants of the 24-hour playwriting competition (henceforth “24-hour”) – probably too late if this entry even sees light – is this: Don’t Underestimate The Goodie Bag!

2002 being my first, I was determined not to go unprepared and turned up lugging a huge bag of stuff I might need and a heavy laptop bag. And then I registered, and was handed YET another bag, so I had to lug 3 bags of stuff around with me while listening to doorbells, or feeling gingerly around in a bag (more bags!), or trying to unlock a cabinet, or… Just take it from me, it wasn’t a good idea.

But I must say the goodie bag was one of the first things I was completely floored by. It had almost anything you could possibly want on an overnight stay (including Dove soap!) and more. It also highlighted to me that I was probably the last person in Singapore to discover there was such a thing as caffeine pills. For the rest of my life, I will never forget the caffeine pills, even though I never actually tried one.

Probably because I was trying to catch some shuteye on an IKEA bed. We slept on the beds! And used the breakfast trays to write on! And found the desk-and-office-chair combination that best suited us! What bliss.

I know, almost a page into my entry and I haven’t even talked about writing yet. To be honest, I didn’t even do much writing for the 1st 4 hours; with just 1 stimulus, the possibilities were just endless and I ended up with 4 outlines, none of which eventually made it into a script. Just wait till you hit the magical hour of 4am, when everything you write sounds incredibly hilarious and seems like a good idea at the time, but requires you to edit out two pages of stuff later and makes you wonder if there was something in the water. And let’s not forget the critical last 4 hours, where you scramble to shove in the last stimulus in a hopefully clever way and check your script a gazillion times and hope your laptop battery doesn’t die before you get to save and submit the file…

And then you get home, and collapse, and wonder if it was all really worth it. And then you realize, even if your play was the lousiest in the whole competition, it really was a tremendous experience and you wouldn’t have traded that 24 hours for anything else. (Except maybe world peace, but that’s a different story.)

So, honestly? Don’t worry about what you will write, or what you should bring, or who you will meet… Just allow the awesome experience to sweep you off your feet and take you – like estuary sediments – to a place where you DON’T belong, where somehow, somewhere, inspiration sparks.

As for me, I STILL don’t know what I will wear. One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to be in the running for Most Easily-recognizable Bum of 24-hour 2009!

Grace Toh

Participant, Saturday, July 18 12:27AM

S, it’s SiS

Ten more minutes to midnight. I am charging my laptop battery now and wondering which pillow to bring to the Marina Barrage tomorrow: not too big as that will be cumbersome, not the ones I like lest I dirty them… Yes, largely inane thoughts.

I had planned to sleep earlier today so that I have more zzz currency in my sleep bank but well, obviously didn’t go as planned. Looks like I’ll need to go on credit tomorrow. Don’t we ever learn?

There must be a certain something about sleep deprivation. Right now, there is another 24hr competition taking place at Tangs: http://www.tangs.com.sg/blogathon/ That one’s even more extreme as it is under prying eyes.

Surely, it’s Sleepless in Singapore this weekend.

Shing Shian

Participant, Saturday, 18 July 12:08AM