SDEA Theatre Arts Conference 2021 – Creative Disruption: Exploring New Ground

I had the opportunity to attend Singapore Drama Educators Association (SDEA) Theatre Arts Conference this year. This is the 5th conference conducted by SDEA and it went online for the first time. The objectives of the conference were to broaden our perspectives, advance our practice, and explore creative disruption through the lens of citizenship, community, education and health. SDEA had it all well-thought by offering delegates with livestream and on-demand options on plethora of topics stemming from the four strands above.

There were many presenters from all around the world, coming forward to share how applied drama and theatre scenes were shaken due to the pandemic. In addition, there were also insights on how drama education and theatre practices unconventionally helped tourism sector of a small town in Japan, healthcare practitioners in United Kingdom and even the psychological well-being of children in India. I had ‘travelled’ across the world -Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Greece and Africa, to name some countries. I watched many great works of drama educators and performances that had empowered many people from all walks of life.

One presentation that was close to my heart was the one by Ms Ainul Farhana, ‘More Than Just Emojis: Using Drama Arts In An Early Childhood Classroom’. There were many occasions in my drama classroom that students were not able to express their feelings or not being able to identify the different emotions. The concept of feelings is something that is not easy to be thought as we learned most of them through experiences. Ms Ainul EMOJI’s concept to teach emotions was based on the word emoji itself: Emotion Vocabulary, Maintain Balance – symbols, pictures and words, Opportunity with Stories, Just Have Fun and Interpretation. As a drama teacher, EMOJI would be a good strategy to note when planning for emotion activities.

My takeaway from this conference is that the power of drama is limitless in the hands of those who seek change, acceptance and inclusivity (eg.LGBTQ issues, disabilities), a coping mechanism in any social climate for citizens, sending the true message of education (learning is more than just academics) and to empower individuals from all ages and socioeconomic status. No matter how topsy-turvy the world is or any discomfort you feel at this moment due to the pandemic, my message to fellow drama educators – Drama has prepared us to be malleable so keep your creativity juices flowing!

Muzdalifah Hamzah
Speech & Drama Arts Programme Manager & Lead Educational Therapist
Sengkang Learning Centre

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