How art changed a teenager’s life
Teenager Sarah Zafirah took part in the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition this year and came out tops in the Youth Category. (Photo: T:>Works Singapore)

How art changed a teenager’s life

Grappling with the effects of a global pandemic and life in a new school, teenager Sarah Zafirah fell back on an old habit – writing. As a child, she relished writing short stories, but self-doubt and self-criticism eventually got to her, and she stopped her pursuit of creative writing.

Amidst the changes and uncertainty of this year, however, she found herself picking up her pen, facing her fear of creative writing head-on. She experimented with poetry and even took part in the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition organised by arts organisation T:>Works, which took place from 18 to 19 June.

She had participated in the last two editions of the annual competition, but she hesitated to do so this year. The pandemic meant that the contest, usually held overnight at a venue, would be conducted entirely online; she wasn’t sure if she would take well to the new digital format.

Still, she signed up, in part because participating in the contest had started to feel like a yearly ritual, and because she enjoyed connecting with other young, aspiring playwrights through the competition.

Her play, The Correspondence, explores themes of grief and death through the story of a teenager who has to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of his estranged father.

She says: “The premise of the play is rather simple, and I never thought I would place in the competition, much less win it.”

Her play, directed by seasoned theatre practitioner Kaylene Tan, has been turned into a digital production for How To Break A Window. This hybrid-theatrical experience showcases winning plays in the competition, and allows audiences to choose between a live and digitalised theatrical experience, or a home theatrical experience via Zoom. It can be viewed online from 20 to 23 Dec. 

The budding playwright says: “Even though I am far from perfect as a writer, I have become much more comfortable with practising and learning along the way, and the process has made me a better person.”

Learn more about How To Break A Window here.

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