Tuesday

Poetry from the Participants

This is an anthology of the poetry written by the workshop participants in December 2005.


Charades

Must my mask be lifted to confront myself
It's my mold yet it doesn't seem to fit.
Quit playing salmon and catch the surf for once
Superficial peace has you in pieces.
My crumbs are telling on me. Could this be me?
It fits like oreos in milk.
Trippy shudders of hallucination in my core.
Pearl, your words reflect my thoughts.
Does it fit me or I fit my mask?


The Journey
I held and I pushed
I hummed and I drummed
To the sound of the rhythm
I painted, then contemplated
I stroked, then the silent broke
I went wild like a tiger
hungry like a bear
but the best part was to be free
as a bird.
I sniffed nature at its best
Then let my senses take over the rest.
I strummed and appreciated the beauty of art
while the cameras clicked
But that is not what makes me tick
I moulded a face out of my very own
my gentle hands smoothing the edges
the colours I chose, crying imposed
the heart, mind and soul brings
everything to a close.


Untitled
Mix of colours here and there,
Uncertain I am through it all,
Expressing myself through visual arts,
What a method unconventional,
Abstract it is but in the end,
Came up with a mask of fiery,
Cosy a midst the thorns,
The imperfect mask I came to adore.



Untitled
A task at hand to pin my problems,
not through words but art it is,
seldom tried my forte oh please,
I give it a go for what have I to lose,
Amidst the uncertainty an open heart.

A brush in hand the steer of my life,
emotionally engaged I filled the white void,
with despairing strokes of yellow and blue,
came up with an artpiece I adore,
A hand to some a face to others,
whatever it is i certainly had no idea.


Untitled
The color of white, symbolise things that are pure?
Serenity, peace and kindness am I truly sure?
OR... it is just a plain and boring color
which seems like a heart with no flavour.
I stared and scrutinised the white piece of paper
Then my mind was suddenly filled with colorful splendour
Hey! Where's that come from, I have never knew of its existence before!
Green, red and yellow
Black surrounded with sorrow
love, peace and money
None of which I've aplenty
Born again the dullness of life
Born again the feeling of disgusts
Hey, stop it, contemplate and embrace
They are the gift for you to taste
Be it purple the color of your face
Or just a plain white mask for you to gaze.
Face the music of life when you listen
There's always help near or distance
Laugh till you cry or run and hide you might try
But surely and slowly you grow to believe
Color, music, sound and life is here as a gift.


Untitled
Crunching footsteps & a platter of rain
Rustle of branches howled through the trees
Dont' vent your wrath if you're in rage...
Just let it go and you'll be ease...

See the pendulum onomatopoeia
You have to take your time but never waste it here
Nothing paradoxical for me
Feedom, I just want to break free...


Untitled
While I was walking through the jungle My leg shivering and
I became perspire, I felt so agitated. It was dark, silent and
many weird noises, the sounds of animals. Then I was in the middle
of the jungle, my heart now its depend on me became 50/50, whether to continue or not to
go through the obstacles. I forced myself and put my efforts to challenge
the fear that I h ad.

After I had overcome my fears, suddenly I saw a beautiful firecrackers
sparkling... Woah... I shouted. I proceed nearer, I found out, there
had many painted drawing papers hanging on the walls, I was mesmerised
with the beautiful arts with different stories. There had many meanings
anger, loves, pessimistic, enjoyful, sinful, fun and lastly the roads to
heaven.

Now than I know, it is a Arts without Limits Exhibition.


Untitled
From the internal part of an actor
They display with them their genuine character
A symbolic design appear from their poster
Either their joy or their suffer
Doesn't care the ambiance or the atmosphere
As long as they could release all their pressure
Definately they will have their pleasure
Then only I could, rest assured
that all the burden & load, is being shared, together.



Untitled
Fear and confusion paralysed my feet when I stepped into
the unknown territory.
My heart said, "Follow yr animal instinct." But my mind
said, "No. Don't tread on the places you don't
know."
(Sigh) What a confusion?! Which should I trust? the
Heart or the Mind? Neither or both?
In retrospection, I've always acted on Faith becoz it
energizes the Heart, Mind & Soul.

Sunday

December 19-21, 2005

2005 was an excellent year for Arts Without Limits and our friends at Kaki Bukit Centre (Prison School). It was the first year that we managed 3 x 20-hour workshop sessions. And the sustained progression was possible because of the availability of the follow-up workshops. In all we managed 60 hours altogether plus another 10 hours of adhoc visits painting and making pots.

But its not just about the number of hours, though it certainly helps. More importantly, its the frequency of the visit. Because with each visit the facilitator-participant relationship grows thicker. With each visit, the process gets deeper and the learning and reflection curve for both facilitator and participant is thicker as well. Goodness, I certainly learnt alot not only as a facilitator but also as a person through these sessions with the inmates, no the participants, our friends.

Looking back, I remember the fear of such an encounter - wondering if I knew what I was doing, or wondering if the inmates would accept me as much as I want to accept them. I admit, I had my stereotypical mind sets of who they were. But the process of working together has changed my perception of incarceration and those incarcerated.

When we first met in November this year to plan for this final session, we had wanted to do something else - a terrain of past, present and future. But when I was in Malaysia attending the Asian Youth Artsmall Exchange, I met a Contemplative Arts/Arts Therapy practitioner, Adisorn Juntrasook from Thailand. I attended a 2-day workshop he led on "Facilitators' Self-discovery through Contemplative Arts". Questions like who you are and how and why you facilitate were being explored.

As someone who facilitates, I am always excited and happy to be on the other side of the fence - the side of being facilitated, being a participant. In moments like this, you get a chance to reflect on your work, your practice and the philosophy and motivations behind your work. It is a time when you consolidate and reflect on how you have been working, and ways of improving your facilitation technique. It was because of the workshop and also the time away from the previous plan we did in November that on my return from Malaysia (Felicia was away in Thailand) that the team met again to relook at the plan.

One of the things I appreciated from the workshop in Malaysia was time to breathe. Room for the participants and the activities to breathe and expand on their own. That was something I shared with Edmund. It was with that in mind that we relooked at the work and The Gift and The Encounter was born.

The title was apt, given that it was nearing Christmas. Honestly we weren't thinking about Christmas at all, but perhaps psychological we were affected by it. Or rather, the Gift came about because of my return from Malaysia and the gift I experienced through Adisorn's workshop. Well, I am analysing too much :)

The Gift was about the exploration of Self and all its strengths and weaknesses and accepting them as Gifts to oneself as well as to others. We approached the exploration of the Gifts through several encounters:
Encounters of Self
Encounters of A Place of Safety, Love and Comfort
Encounters with The Man
Encounters with Strengths and Weaknesses

In all of these encounters we did it through visual arts, drama, movement and music. Most importantly we had lots of encounters with moments of silence - working individually in corners, with eyes closed and in these moments of golden silence, we came back and created.

We breathed.

Edmund had wanted "Man in the Mirror", something we did in June with Mirrors where inmates traced their image of self onto. He felt that we could develop it further here. Way back in September, Felicia had wanted to use mask. But some reason I can't remember, we abandoned it for the terrain art work. Now on hindsight Felicia's intial instinct was spot on. Its funny how often we ignore our inner voice, we judge it, fear it and censor its happening. It's never too late, thank goodness, 2 days before the workshop, on 17 Dec, I smsed Felicia who was still in Thailand, "lets' do mask work".

And it was wonderful. We spent half of Day two making the mask for 15 participants, adding on to them and painting them. The third day we created drama using these masks - both collective and solo works. This time because of the presence of masks, musical instruments and paintings, the participants were ready to move on to the next level. They created stories using symbolic representations, found ways to express their fears not through fear itself but through the creative work. By this time, we had spent 2 days, moving, dancing with our noses and elbows, tranforming into animals in jungles, painted and shared art works, worked on story-telling, played music and yes, breathed.

We take breathing for granted.

The final session in December was as much a GIFT to the participants as it was to Felicia, Edmund and myself. We allowed ourselves to breathe along with them. As for me, I began to trust my own skills as a facilitator and acknowledge my shortcomings. And most importantly, to breathe into trusting the process and the participants to help the work grow. And I thank Adisorn for reminding me to Breathe.

Friday

Cards of Thanks

A card for Arts Without Limits.


A card for Edmund - still don't know why he's Santa Claus!? :)


A card for Kay Siu and Swee Lin.

Thursday

Berita Harian

News coverage in the local Malay newspapers on 22 December 2005:


Sunday

KBC Reflections

How far back should I go to tell you about the start?

To the time when I volunteered at Galilee Centre, a learning centre for children from disadvantaged homes, run by the Infant Jesus Sisters.

That was rather far back – back in 1995. I had just graduated from Catholic Junior College, and had been working at Galilee Centre for 9 months.

It was there that I met Kim Hong ( not his real name). Kim Hong was nine, but had never been to school. He was looked after by his grandmother and uncle. His parents had abandoned him and he had been roaming the corridors and pavements of Seletar Estate (which I recently found out had been torn down, whole flats wiped out. Its strange to have memories of a bustling HDB housing estate in front of a vacant piece of land full of overgrown grass in its place.)

Kim Hong had come to the centre at Jalan Kayu because his neighbour had brought him there. He soon came to us everyday for ‘lessons’ and arrangements were made to enroll him in Primary One the following year. He entered Primary One at the age of 10 armed with a year’s knowledge of literacy and numeracy. A brave chap, and an intelligent one too, who tried to be part of a school.

He did not fit in, and by Primary 4, had dropped out and no longer came to the centre.

By that time, I was studying for an Art degree in London.

The nine months at Galilee Centre affected my view of the world and of what I could do in it. Despite London, I always returned to the centre during the holidays, and hence knew of the turns in life Kim Hong had taken.

By the time I graduated from university and was in NIE for teacher training, Kim Hong was in Boy’s Town. He had been caught setting fire to motorbikes and a market.

In the meantime, the art I made was evolving.

I couldn’t make paintings. I felt then that they were not real enough. I soon settled for something called outdoor installations and performances which made use of objects, real time and actual spaces which people lived in, shopped at or walked along. I felt the need to bring the art out, and I found reactions and responses more interesting and very much part of the artwork in itself.

When I was at NIE, The Necessary Stage was interested in collaborating with visual artists and that’s where I started showing my work and running my first workshop for a group of ITE students. It was also there that I learnt about Development Through Drama (DTD), and together with the bits of facilitation courses I sat in while working at the centre, I started to form ideas of how visual art could do the same as DTD - to develop art activities that responded to the needs of its participants, which would enable its participants to understand a little more about themselves. I thought then that both these objectives were important for children and teenagers, especially those troubled or distracted from a focus for various reasons.

In the meantime, Kim Hong was still in Boy’s Town and was heading towards RTC.

I soon started teaching in a school and was given a Sec One Normal Technical class to teach. As form teacher and literature teacher, I could explore and expand on my class’s curriculum, and introduced DTD to them. I also wrote a Development Through Art curriculum for them to complement DTD. The response was positive – but by Sec Two I had a casualty – one of the girls had dropped out of school and from the sounds of it was going to head for a remand centre in a matter of time.

By then, Kim Hong was in RTC.

By then I had concluded that those who would benefit from DTD and these art activities I was trying to create were not in school. Kim Hong was already in prison, this girl was heading that way – I needed to find a way to introduce the arts into the prisons to get to them. I needed to find out about the prison system and find a way for the arts to break into it.

I remember this day clearly, flipping through the Yellow Pages and calling the prison’s Public Relations and goodness knows which other department to try and see if I could speak with someone who would help put the arts behind bars. I don’t think anyone really understood what I was saying, and I got nowhere with the calls. That evening I took a walk in Serangoon Gardens. There I bumped into Martina – an ex-IJ schoolmate who was working in Kaki Bukit Prison School. I was quite astonished to bump into her along the street, told her what I had tried to do, and was immediately given an email address to write to.

I then wrote to the KBC OC officer, and also sent an email to Noorlinah Mohamed whom I felt then was the most experienced person I knew in DTD methods, who also had a heart for the less successful and fortunate. Feeling insecure about my counseling skills, I roped in Yap Ching Wi, a social worker. Together, we formed the first team to carry out a ‘developmental’ arts workshop at Kaki Bukit Prison School. With the help of the counselor there, Rona, we tailored and conducted a 3 half- day workshop called Inner Journeys based on the needs of the participants.

It was March 2002.

Kim Hong was still in RTC then and was released early this year.

I end for now with a biblical quote which also helped nudge me towards flipping the Yellow Pages. I am not overtly religious or anything, but I can’t help making such references, having worked with the Infant Jesus sisters who made what they call ‘Christ’s work’ real. It comes from a song: “ He sent me to bring the Good news to the poor, tell prisoners that they are prisoners no more…” . It may sound a little cliché or simple – so I literally walked into prison then – and what is the message that I supposedly bring?

This is what I understood the ‘good news’ to be: That God made us the way we are, and the good news is not just about going to heaven. It’s about living life to the fullest, as who God made us out to be. The good news is really about accepting yourself, realizing that there’s really nothing wrong with you and bringing to the world the gift of who you are. That’s freedom, as well as a blind faith in the latent goodness in everyone.

And the whole thing was really like a blind leap of faith.

I found the first letter I wrote to KBC, which seems rather naïve now that I read it in 2005. It’s in fact rather embarrassing! Here it is:

Dear Sir,

I am an independent artist who is presently teaching at a secondary school. I am also a friend of Martina Tan who had shared with me about teaching in the prisons. After listening to her, I became interested in contributing in some way to your area of work and am proposing an Arts programme which I hope some of your students can benefit from.

Apart from my normal teaching duties, I also run workshops and have done so for other organizations like the Central Narcotics Bureau, ITE, The Necessary Stage and VWOs based on their needs on a voluntary basis (Please refer to the CV attached). These workshops revolve around Art and carry the theme which the organization pinpoints as important to the students in their care.

I understand from Martina that you have some students taking Art as an O level subject. While I can come up with an Art enrichment programme for these students, ecposing them to different areas of art and skills of art-making, I am also interested in offering a programme for self-development through Art and Drama.

Being in the Singapore Arts scene, a few of my friends from the local drama scene are also interested in a self-development programme for your students. They are experienced facilitators in an educational programme called Development Through Drama which is presently being used in schools. Together, I hope to craft out a programme which uses both Drama and Art
techniques to facilitate creativity and self-expression. This programme aims to develop self-awareness and esteem, giving your students both confidence and an inner awareness in facing life’s choices and obstacles.

In a nutshell, I am offering to run programmes of 2 sorts, based on your
needs:

1) An Arts Enrichment programme
2) A self-development through the arts programme

The programmes have to run during the school holidays (June or December) due to my teaching commitments and will run for about 3 full or half days depending on the area which you want your students to cover. They will be facilitated voluntarily.

I know that what I am proposing here is rather vague. I tend to work based on the area of need and hence have to be flexible in programming. I do hope that you will be interested in my present proposal and contact me for further details. I am available at this number 97479674. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you be interested.

Thank you very much for your time.

Felicia Low

The Performance: A Prison Educator's Perspective

After some rather intensive rehearsals in July, we could see the National Day performance taking shape ala Sing Song. Sing Song, in which Kay Siu had a role, was a collaboration between The Necessary Stage (TNS) and Southeast Community Development Council. It was a musical play based on the idea that ‘soundtracks’ exist in people’s lives as well as in films. (http://inkpot.com/theatre/04reviews/04revsingsong.html)

The 8th August performance, now entitled ‘Heartstrings from the Inside’, was not a conventional piece of performance. It was a platform from which our inmates shared about the musical influences in their lives.

One inmate, who was not originally slated to share his personal story, felt he wanted to open up during the rehearsals. So on the actual day, he came forward and shared that the song Boulevard (by Dan Byrd) triggered beautiful and sad memories because he had lost his wife to brain tumour.

He sang:

I don’t know why, You say goodbye
Please let me know it isn’t so that I’ve been losing you
Please tell me why, You make me cry
I beg you please, I’m on my knees if that’s what you want me to
Never knew that it would go so far
When you left me on that boulevard
Come again you would release my pain
And we could be lovers again


He was never a confident student in my English classes, yet the way he delivered his lines and sang his song made me feel he had indeed benefitted from the drama lessons. Besides, the fact that he, being an elderly man having to mourn the loss of his wife made it all the more poignant. There was a certain rawness when he shared.

Another musical story resonated deeply as one other inmate articulated the following.

(Transcript:* permission granted)

(sung) Speak softly love and hold me warm against your heart
I feel your words the tender trembling moments start…

(spoken)

The theme song…‘Godfather’… not my kind of music, of course. I guess music was not in my blood. And I’m no music lover anyway. But that song was one man’s favourite. A man who means everything to me. A man who’s very special and precious in my life. Not only he showered me with love, he showed me the true meaning of life. He even acted as a shield for me against any harm, but now I’m just like a blind man without his walking stick. Because it has been 16 months, 16 months now since he left me all alone in this world dangling without a destination. Yet whenever I listen to the musical rhythm of the theme song Godfather, I somehow feel connected to him. I can felt his presence in me, even right here right now on this very stage. I can see him standing fully in front of me, but when I extend my hand to grab hold of him, he disappears. If there is 1 thing I can ask God, I will ask him for ‘just simply give me 5 minutes for me to be with him again. Just 5 minutes to be with my dad again.

(kneels down, impromptu)

Dad, I should have said this to you ages ago when I have the opportunity to do so. I’m sorry I didn’t. I failed as a son. Forgive me.

(removes his hat and places it on his heart) I love you. And I miss you.



These are but two of the stories.

I must admit that my eyes still water when I replay those scenes in my head, capturing the essence of their sharing, their nuances, the uncomfortable silences, the knotting in the throat, the glistened eyes, the fidgety movements.

Only after sometime when I received some bad (among good) feedback that I realised that ‘Heartstrings from the Inside’ was NOT a performance ala ‘Sing Song’. According to some of the critics, acting was minimal, story conflicts almost absent, entertainment value negligible. It was purely a sharing of sorts, with the actors playing themselves. But I was certain we did not ‘perform’ for the audience. We didn’t need to. We performed for ourselves. Our inmates needed that platform to articulate their repressed feelings, and express themselves honestly. The cathartic experience was meant only for them. It was an experience for them to own, and from which they find release.

These heartfelt stories have a tremendous sense of knowing, and the brutal honesty reached, I realised, could not have been made accessible if the workshops had not weaved its way into their self-knowing.

I now witness the seed that had been planted taking fruit, and blossoming into something I still cannot fathom. I cannot be sure myself how each inmate has benefitted from the intensive journeying with Arts Without Limits and with Kay Siu and Swee Lin. But two things I can be sure of, the participants are sincerely grateful for the experience, and are hungry for even more.

Wednesday

The Rehearsals: A Prison Educator's Perspective

The March and June workshops conducted by Arts Without Limits came to a close, in preparation for the school's National Day concert. The Drama Club was scheduled for a performance on the morning of 8th August 2005.

Thanks to Noorlinah's recommendations, we managed to sit with us at Borders Cafe one Sunday morning two veteran celebrity actors. I shared about the earlier production 'The Mustapha Story' and Noorlinah talked ab0ut the inner discovery workshops. I don't exactly know what about the work that had been done in the Prison School, but after hearing it, Lim Kay Siu and Neo Swee Lin sparkled with enthusiasm. They were willing to volunteer with us from beginning to end of the production. Yay!

They are truly a godsend.

I remember the very first time I brought Kay Siu and Swee Lin through the many prison gates right into the library (the biggest space that was available for use), I sensed uncertainty. Perhaps even fear. I wasn't sure. Like strangers entering a different world for the first time, there was a degree of awkwardness when eyes met. Two visitors, twenty inmates. Two actors, twenty offenders. Two celebrities, twenty 'commoners'.

However, the ice was quickly broken when handshakes were exchanged, and friendly chatter ensued.

We played simple games together just to get the names acquainted with the faces. Slowly, it moved on to talking about their favourite type of music/musician/band. There were games, and more games. Their favourite was 'Zip-Zap/Ding-Dong'. It was hilarious when someone made a mistake in the zipping or zapping. Swee Lin disqualified many of us in one shot. She was that powerful! And it was very fun.

I must say it was altogether a wonderful start!

Subsequently, they were taught to create stories in a round, with the objective of keeping the ‘make-believe world’ as cogent as possible, where each participant had to take off from where another had left it.

This was followed by a brief practical lesson in ‘choral’ music in the round. Neither was it churchy nor classical. It was a simple four-line harmony sung to the rhythm of African drumbeats using just the voice. With Kay Siu’s charisma and artistry, he took all of us through the dynamics of the song while we sang. The technical terms I had learnt in my younger days in choral music like crescendo and decrescendo, pianissimo and fortissimo, were delicately interwoven and majestically performed without any theoretical training. Kay Siu’s ad-libbing over and above the music and rhythm and his movements took the musical piece to different levels. I probably lack the vocabulary to describe the experience, but it reminded me a lot of the opening sequence of the Broadway musical, Lion King.

After moving through canyons and crossing deserts, the symbolic journey represented by the tribal music finally ended with a quiet rumbling of the /m/ sound. Slowly it came to a complete rest.

Silence.
Our eyes met.
WOW!!!! It really, really rocked!

I was astonished and amazed by that musical piece that could have been, I must say, a performance piece in itself. I could tell our students enjoyed themselves tremendously. It was a refreshing change to all the dramatic and reflective work that we had done so far in the previous workshops. This was music! It spoke to the soul.


To prepare for the next rehearsal, Kay Siu told the students to prepare a sharing of their life stories using music. It could be a favourite song that brings us back to a particular memory. It could be uplifting. It could be sorrowful. It could be anything as long as it resonates deep within.

Kay Siu then shared his life story as an example. He was going through a tremendously difficult time dealing with his mother’s passing on. It was only after some time after his filming of 'Anna and the King' that his physical behaviour turned nasty towards Swee Lin. For a period of time, he continuously lashed out at her. It was only one day, when Swee Lin asked What did I do wrong? that made him realize he was not really angry with her. He was not coping well with his mother’s death, and his grief was inappropriately channeled. He did not know how else to articulate his pain, and it affected his relationship. To resolve that marital tension, he wrote a song for Swee Lin. It was a song of appreciation for the love and support she had showered during that trying time.

With a guitar in hand, the maestro sang us that song he wrote for Swee Lin.

I remember tears welling up in my eyes as I watched him ‘perform’. I was sure my students felt that emotion too. Kay Siu’s personal sharing was deep. It was honest. It was sincere. And it was touching.

By the end of that first visit by Kay Siu and Swee Lin, a bond had already been forged.

Saturday

Since 2003, we only just begun . . .

Felicia and I always meet prior to the workshop itself. Whenever we meet, we evaluate past workshops and establish a kind of directional map for the next one. Questions like where do we go next and why that direction surface at our meetings. Once we are prepared, we arrange a date to go into prison. Ching Wi, with her social work training, makes up the team. A 3-woman team. Ching Wi observes, assists with the work and records the activities and inmates' responses. She writes the evaluation reports which we refer to as record and analysis of the work.

Kaki Bukit Centre (Prison School) has a special place in our hearts. Way back in 2003, Felicia approached a social worker/counsellor, I believe her name is Rona and sold her the idea of 2 arts educators coming to share the work with inmates. It was not easy. I recall her writing numerous emails, and attending many more meetings to get this off the ground. Now 3 years later, we have a blog, project portfolio and soon an exhibition featuring the inmates' creations in March 2006. It has been quite a journey.

I never thought I'd be sitting here, doing this, sharing this journey in my very first blog entry. I have read blogs and attempted to post a comment once before. Students from one of the schools I worked with tried getting me started. But I resisted. I always felt blogs were too time consuming, too much of a commitment and too open a platform. Now I am posting an entry. I am trying to chart and record the journey that Felicia and I took some 3 years back.

Its important that the journey be recorded. I think we are on something important and special. And NEW too. 3 years ago we had to convince the prisons to let us in. Kaki Bukit opened its doors and a year later Changi Women's Prison. The counsellors and prison wardens were convinced. But bureaucracy and personnel change make the work extremely hard to sustain. We kept coming back, even though each time meant convincing a new set of people. We just kept convincing and convincing and convincing. Felicia did most of the persuading. I cheered on and kept the positive hyperactive energy going when the workshops happen.

Despite the constant changes of connections we encountered with the prisons, we made a great leap by expanding the team to include Shireen Abdullah, who is an arts administrator and educator. Shireen now volunteers as the administrator, keeping our records together. Bless her. We also have other theatre and visual arts practitioners who have come forward to express interest in the work we do. We registered as a society in 2004 - Arts Without Limits. No membership, just a name that pushes the idea of art making beyond art sake. Art for healing, transformation and for the community. Art for anyone who needs to find a way in when life makes them feel they are out.

2005 is an excellent year for Arts Without Limits. In March, we made a major breakthrough when we met Edmund Chow, one of the educators in Kaki Bukit prison centre. He sat in and watched us work and he is convinced what we are doing would benefit the inmates. And because of his belief, we came back every school break - June, Sept and soon Dec. Edmund is a valuable collaborator (not just because he created this blog ). He is instrumental in making Arts Without Limits a regular in Kaki Bukit. He is the voice that connects us with the inmates. Through him we understand what goes on and how best we can tailor the work to explore other concerns that inmates encounter during the incarceration.

I'd like to share the notes Felicia and I made in one of our meetings. This came from the last workshop in June called "Man in the Mirror". This is the first draft of a proposed outline. The stimuli were two poems - one was written with questions raised from previous workshops. The other poem, rather lyrics, came from a song by Fallen Angel (see Edmund's
second posting).

This gives you an idea of our thought process and journey. I will post other drafts soon. I hope someone reading this, who works in the same field, would like to share and add to our jouney. We only just begun and I look forward to the next step we take as a team . . . let's keep going!


Project Title: The Man in the Mirror

Who is this Man in the Mirror?
What is his history?
How far has he come in his life?
Where is he today?
What about him?
Physically, what is his best feature?
What is the most treasured part of himself?
In one sentence, how would he describe himself?
If there is a song, what would be his anthem?
What is his favourite colour?
His favourite food?
His favourite pose?
How does he walk?
How does he talk?
What does his voice sound like?
Is he here today?
Is he far away?
Who is this Man in the Mirror?
Introduce him to me!

DAY ONE
Warm-up begins with games that rely on trust and support - 40 mins
Discussion 5 minutes

Activity: Seeing without Seeing:
Duration: 2 hours (9am – 11am)
Blind fold trace - hand
Participants are walking blindly, as they meet they shake hands with another. Feel the hand shake, who is this person. No sound, try to imagine who he might be.

Stop and say the name?

Blind fold trace – face. Same exercise but this time trace the face. Who is he?
Stop and say the name?

When seeing with eyes closed, what do you rely on? Write on A4 paper first word or draw a first impression.

Man does it alone again and then traces his body. Examines.

Participants with eyes closed, try to draw himself and placing his eyes, ears, nose, mouth, limbs and heart in the drawing on a piece of blank paper.

Gallery - identify themselves in the drawing.

Write a response on what they have seen from the paper. Who is this man they see on the paper?

Depending on group dynamics and relationship with the piece, participants will present a one-minute piece of the Man as they think he is (can be done with words or without words, song, dance, mime etc)

Link with Mirror work.
Visual art takes over

DAY TWO
Warm-up activities: 40 minutes

Visual art continues

Reflection
The writing of a poem/response to the Man in the Mirror
A song of self - Who is this Man today?

Who is this Man in the Mirror?
Do I recognize him today?
What was his dream?
His hope?
His wish?
If he has a message to himself what would he say?
He sees himself today and he says . . .