By Haresh Sharma
We are all animals trying to survive in this jungle.
Some move in packs...
A swarm of bees.
A flock of swans.
A herd of cattle.
A cluster of fish?
It’s P6. Through the eyes of Dee and her best friend Preeti, we look at what’s beneath the surface of school life during PSLE year. You’ll meet the sometimes cruel foxes, the bullying baboons, and the caring and efficient teachers who she likes to think of as penguins. Yes, the school sometimes feels a bit like a zoo. A zoo that Dee doesn't want to leave.
Dee thinks of her best friend Preeti as a smart and kind elephant, but what animal is Dee? In fact there is a lot we don’t know about Dee. She hides it so well. Will her friendship with Preeti be enough to get her through what’s troubling her the most?
In Cluster Fish, Sharma confronts the pressures of school, the realities of class divides, social media and bullying and how they impact the swiftly growing child, their search for identity and their relationships with family and friends.
Cluster Fish is about our deep need for acceptance, kindness, respect and friendship.
Please note: While this play has been created especially for upper primary children and is packed with plenty of warmth, fun, hope, and humour, it also confronts us with some of the more challenging aspects of life including the harsh realities of troubled families, socio-economic struggles, school bullying and domestic violence. We suggest you consider this when bringing your child/students. It might be important to have conversations before and after the show, to ensure that your child/students have a fruitful impact.
Haresh Sharma’s newest play, Cluster Fish, is commissioned by SOTA and is written for upper primary school children, and those who know and love them. It is part of SOTA's season of plays exploring the theme ‘Family Matters’.
Through the eyes of Dee, a 12-year-old in Primary 6, we consider the wonders and woes of life at school and at home. She tells us that school is like the animal kingdom, or maybe just the zoo. There are cool and crafty foxes, exotic hornbills, quiet chameleons, fancy chauffeur-driven peacocks, scratchy sniffy baboons, and strong but gentle elephants.
Dee’s best friend Preeti has more homes than a Kardashian. She lives with her grandparents most of the time, but sometimes with her Mum, and rarely with her Dad. Dee’s grandparents struggle to make ends meet by collecting unwanted goods in void decks. Despite her family tension and financial struggles Preeti seems to be strong and happy and always do so well at school. She has always done much better at school than Dee, who always feels like she is the worst student in school. Both Preeti and Dee come from homes who are struggling financially, and they both experience their fair share of family troubles and tensions.
Speaking of family tensions; Dee has a dark secret that she can’t bring herself to share with anyone, not even her best friend Preeti. She hopes that one day she will wake up and her problem will just go away, or maybe one day when she is old enough and brave enough she will just disappear, and escape all this trouble.
While this play has been created especially for upper primary children, Cluster Fish is by no means a light children’s play. While it is packed with plenty of warmth, fun, hope, and humour, it also confronts us with some of the more challenging aspects of life. In the same spirit as many of Sharma’s other great socially-driven plays, such as Off Centre, it features some of the harsh realities of troubled families, socio-economic struggles, school bullying and domestic violence. We suggest you consider this when bringing your child/students. It might be important to have conversations before and after the show, to ensure that your child/students have a fruitful impact.