Stepping into the Auditorium at 6.30 pm on a Friday evening was like changing trains at City Hall — people were criss-crossing in various directions, either in deep conversation with fellow actors or engrossed in checking messages on their phones after finishing rehearsals for their specific parts. With less than a month to go to the debut of the production, Justified interviews the production heads to find out more.

Img 1

The Production Heads of Law IV 2017! From left to right, Elias Arun (Music Head), Jaryl Lim (Director), Esther Lim (Dance Head), Joshua Goh (Head Writer) and Charlene Wee (Production Vice-Head).

 

Justified: Please give us a brief overview of what this production is about.

Jaryl Lim (Director):

(under his breath) Law IV is an annual tradition where the graduating batch has basically gotten their TCs and have nothing better to do so they decide to put up a musical production. (Elias nods his head in agreement)

Joshua Goh (Head Writer):

You’re watching the production of a talk show. It is not a talk show, but a show about producing a show, including what happens behind the scenes. Here, Jack, a judge, has decided to leave his job and become a talk show host. While on it, bits of his past catch up with him.

Esther Lim (Dance Head):

Our lead, an ex-judge, became jaded with life after witnessing only the bad side of society. He now sets up a talk show thinking that it will show the world the good in life. Throughout the musical, each of the leading characters in the talk show reveal their individual struggles, realise their imperfections and seek to overcome them. This musical is relatable to everyone and explores the theme that people are not always who they seem to be.

Law IV is an annual original musical (dating back decades), fully written and produced by the graduating batch. The money collected from the ticket sales will go towards charity!

Jaryl (Director):

This year, we have tied up with the school to set up a pro bono grant to allow the juniors to spearhead projects that they want. It was a challenge for us to do that a few years back since there was not much funding available then. We hope that as seniors we can now invest in our juniors through the Class of 2017 Pro Bono grant.

Charlene Wee (Production Vice-Head):

This production is about the Class of 2017 continuing a long-standing tradition and reflects what the 4 long (and really difficult) years of law school have nurtured us to be. Each Year 4 involved in Law IV has to juggle the crazy final semester workload with the endless meetings and practice sessions. It really exemplifies how dedicated the batch is. Also, it’s our last opportunity to give back to society as students. We hope that future law students will be able to utilize the Pro Bono Grant to help others.

Jaryl (Director):

Beyond this, we are no longer dealing with the plot of a disillusioned lawyer or any law school theme, since we are pretty much already facing these problems on a day to day basis. Instead we decided to consider moral issues relating to the legal process, something we don’t always confront in our classroom. More than just being an entertainment piece, it pushes the audience to think about what is right or wrong, and to consider whose perspective we should look at when we decide this question.

 

Justified: Where did you get your ideas from?

Elias Arun (Music Head):

In writing the music I kept in mind typical songs that are used in talk shows. My musical influences are quite varied – the opening theme is highly inspired by big band staples, while classical music with hints of symphonic band music will feature in some of the songs (read: Star Wars). I’m also greatly influenced by Japanese composers like Joe Hisaishi. In fact, there is a rock song highly influenced by One Punch Man (HAHA). I try my best to put all the influences together and make things consistent such that it all fits the theme. Here, I must credit my co-composer, Walter Yong, who not only helped me greatly, but also helped me write other genres reminiscent of those found in Disney/Les Misérables.

Esther (Dance Head):

In choreographing a musical, the storyline is of utmost importance, but a musical is only a musical when all its elements are present. These include not just acting but effective, rousing and moving music and dance. In choreographing, we try to understand the emotions behind each scene, and use dance as a visual tool to make the storyline shine. My Choreography team comprises of dancers with different backgrounds – hip hop, street jazz, contemporary and classical – so we brainstorm and make use of our various expertise to create something that can’t be put into any particular genre. We span different eras in choreographing, not confining ourselves to any specific style or time period. The focus is generally on high energy and fun choreography, but there is a varied mix throughout the show as this is a complex production with many different themes and emotions.

Jaryl (Director):

As you can see, every idea comes from the team. Something that I keep in mind as a director is that I hope everyone can contribute in their own way. My role as a director is just to pull everything together and to produce a piece that the batch can be collectively proud of.

 

Img 2

A snippet of what goes on in preparation for Law IV!

 

Justified: Any previous experience in what you are currently doing?

Joshua (Head Writer):

The only other script I wrote was for the 2007 SJI scouts campfire. My co-script writer, Timothy, though, has a lot of experience writing and performing in plays. Usually, when I have an idea, I will run it by Jaryl and Timothy and they try and fit it into the medium of theatre. I’m not much of a theatre person, more of a movie person.

Jaryl (Director):

I have only directed one original musical production before. Apart from that, I also acted and helped to direct a Les Misérables production while at exchange at Peking university last year.

Nevertheless, every production to me is always a brand new one because you work with different people and you work with different ideas entirely. This production is exceptionally complex because in addition to working with the venue, sets and choreography, we have to incorporate a live band, something that I’ve never done before. It’s been very exciting to see that happening onstage!

Elias (Music Head):

This is my first time writing music. However, I play quite a fair bit in semi-professional wind orchestras and bands, and have been involved in a couple of musicals, so I roughly know how things work. Whatever I’m doing right now is new to me, but I do have a related body of experience to draw from, which also makes things even more fun.

Esther (Dance Head):

I started dancing in J1, so it has already been 6 years. During law school, I was also a member of NUS Dance Blast in Year 1 and 2. I focus primarily on hip hop and street jazz. I’ve done choreography here and there, but my first experience leading a big dance production was during Law Rag 2014, for which I was the Dance Head. Most of my current dance committee members have some dance background as well.

 

Justified: What happens during a typical day of rehearsal?

Elias (Music Head):

Firstly, everyone starts off late. We then run through the pieces and focus on the individual parts that require more practice. This was the routine for the entire December — meeting up 3 times a week for 3-hour practice sessions.

Esther (Dance Head):

Dance rehearsals last usually 2-3 hours per song. The mark of a professional production is not just getting the right moves, but getting down the right blocking positions as well, so we usually try to drill that as much as we can. As the musical involves differing groups of characters, each group may need to split and rehearse separately before coming together, especially for the big segments such as the opening and closing songs. We have been consistently rehearsing since the end of Nov 2016, apart from a 2-week break in between. Now that school has started, it is all very time-consuming, but we are grateful that everyone does their best to focus and improve despite any tiredness or time constraints.

Charlene (Production Vice-Head):

The production team doesn’t really get involved in rehearsals until the last month. That’s because we’re kept busy with all the behind-the-scenes work – the sets team started construction way back in November and everyone involved went back to school nearly every day in December. Three months on, we’re proud to say that they are near completion. The publicity team has been busy with the designing of posters, tickets and online publicity platforms. Look out for the fantastic materials in the lead-up to the production. The sponsorship and beneficiary teams have also worked tirelessly to specially tailor packages to entice law firms to sponsor. The costumes and make-up team have been working hard as well – the show cannot go on without them!

Guang Yi (the Production Head) and I do not have experience in production. Being clueless and not expecting things to be so heavy, it is very taxing, especially when school started.

 

Img 3

Everything has to be perfect, even if it is just a full-dress rehearsal!

 

Justified: Seeing as rehearsals are tiring, what are your motivations to continue pulling through?

Esther (Dance Head):

Everyone who wants to be in Law IV enjoys the idea of creating something meaningful as a farewell memento. Law IV is something you are invested in because the experience stretches you and it is something you can be proud of that stays with you long after law school ends, especially considering that most people are not going to take part in a production as big as this when they start lawyering proper. We encourage everyone involved in Law IV to enjoy the whole process – the learning and the fun times with friends (or rather the strengthening of friendships through the common adversity that is rehearsals haha). In general, those who are enthusiastic at the beginning (of law school) with events like Law Rag will probably also be those who are enthusiastic at the end when they join Law IV. Everyone is invested in Law IV once they commit to it, and their passion is their motivation. It is impressive, what people who have determination can do.

Also, food always motivates *wink*. We treat them to pizza and the heads buy drinks for everybody.

Elias (Music Head):

Having other commitments, it’s a challenge to balance everything, and life. Music is one of my passions, hence it motivates me. In fact, all the musicians are friends. The fact that this is so does play a part in motivating everyone to come for rehearsals session after session. Since we are all friends who love music, the motivation comes naturally.

I also have two great friends that helped me immensely – Joshua Kow and Dexter Cheng – without whom I would have never been able to balance my workload. More importantly, I have my incredible girlfriend who has been a primary source of support and motivation.

Jaryl (Director):

(encouragement from the Director) Thanks for believing in the idea of Law IV and what it means to us. There would not have been a production without each and every one of you!

 

Justified: Was this what you signed up for? Why did you join Law IV?

Jaryl (Director):

I enjoy theatre because I think it opens our minds to a lot of different things that we don’t usually think about in Law School. It is a bit of a pity that this is the only arts event in the school’s calendar. I always thought that there should be more.

What drives me is that it is exciting to work on such a collaborative project – one that is more than the sum of its parts. Most of my batch mates have never done a musical production before. To help them experience this, to bring them through a process that is not related to law, and to create something that we can all be proud of is what I look forward to at every rehearsal. Bringing the production from page to stage – that is always an exciting and dynamic process. Better still, why not do it with our batch mates whom we all have grown very close to over the past 4 years?

Joshua (Head Writer):

Because I owed Jaryl a favour. What they don’t tell you is that if you join the Year 3 class committee, you automatically are in the Year 4 class committee — and the job of the Year 4 class committee is to assemble the team to do Law IV. In any case, I don’t regret it, I think the process is quite fun. I’m even acting as one of the characters that I wrote in since the nature of his humour is very like mine — I’m essentially playing myself!

Elias (Music Head):

Ever since I watched my first Law IV back in Year 1, I knew I wanted to do this. Having being part of the FOCC, I thought that it’ll be nice starting of the school term organising something and ending the school term also organising something. It is also a good way for all the Year 4s to embark on something together as a batch, much like what we did when we all met for the first time during Law Camp.

Apart from that, my passion has always been music — my first choice was actually a music degree, not Law! Unfortunately, the reality is that a professional musician in Singapore doesn’t really pay well (times are hard man). While I still love Law and what I’m doing right now as a law school student, to be able to amalgamate my passions is something I have been looking forward to for a very long time.

 

Justified: What can the readers look forward to when they watch this production?

Jaryl (Director):

Be prepared to see something very different from previous years. There will be laughter, tears, joy and ultimately spirit from the people who are giving you their ‘final’ performance in law school.

Joshua (Head Writer):

The stories within the show are very universal, and is not a law-exclusive thing. For those bringing their family along, I’m quite sure their family will enjoy it as well! Having worked on the script since July 2016, I can assure you that a lot thought has been put into the production and readers will definitely enjoy their time.

If you are Star Wars fan, I have put a few references inside so look out for it!

Elias (Music Head):

The actors and dancers are immensely talented. The story is brilliantly written and it’s better than Twilight (LOL).

It’ll also be good for the juniors, especially the Year 1s who have just entered law school. They would be able to discover one of the time-honoured traditions of law school. Also, the overarching theme for this Law IV – people are more than what they seem – is especially apt. Over the course of your time in school, you will discover that everyone has talents in which you might never know about, even until when you are doing your own Law IV! Like for example I never knew Ryce Lee could play the violin so bloody well. Sorry Ryce.

But above all, everyone will be able to enjoy themselves, be inspired, and look forward to the time when they are able to organise their own Law IV.

 

Law IV 2017: Judicial Review, will run from 17 – 19 February. Follow their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lawiv2017/ for more details and more exciting behind-the-scenes updates!

 

Img 4

 

 

Photographs used in this post were provided by Law IV.