UCSI’s Musical Night: ‘Quenched’ a Multi-Layered Study of Love and Identity

 

The UCSI University in Cheras has always been well-known for the vibrancy of its Christian Fellowship. Its CF is not just a weekly gathering of Christian students, but also a training ground for future leadership and ministry unto Christ in the workplace.

Taking its call from Colossians 1:10, the UCSI Christian Fellowship is inter-denominational, with a focus towards uniting Christians by the desire and commitment to bear witness for Jesus Christ, in university and beyond. It has a strong evangelical underpinning founded on the belief that the Word of God is divine truth and foundation for the lives of Christians.   

 

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Cast and crew of ‘Quenched’ from the UCSI Christian Fellowship.

 

Students are encouraged to take initiative and the overall mission of its members is to be more like Christ everyday; to live to know Him and to make Him known, nurturing relationships and sharing Jesus Christ with everyone who has ears to hear.

Throughout the first week of October 2015 (6th, 8th and 10th), the UCSI Fellowship organized a musical night event with a musical drama entitled ‘Quenched: Love. Lost. Found’. Combining dances, drama, and songs, the play was a multi-faceted performance, superbly presented. A substantial part of the songs in the drama were self-composed.

 

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David Soo (left), UCSI CF ex-president, co-director, and Deborah Ngor (right), main organizer and main director, were also co-emcees for the programme.

 

Deborah Ngor, the main organizer and director of the musical, conveyed that all six of the committee members had two objectives in mind. The first one is to answer the call in Romans 8, to bring the whole fellowship together in a united evangelical effort as the Body of Christ.

The second is that this collective initiative would go on to spread God’s love to many others. In total, over the 3 nights, around a 1000 people attended the event.  

 

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Full house in the auditorium during the Musical Nights.

 

‘At first, the plan was to search for talent. We decided in the end that we wanted the whole CF to be involved in something that is so meaningful to us,’ she expressed. During devotion before practice, 3 of the actors (Khang Chern, Mabel, and Chloe Soh) shared their testimonies. This was an answer from God to their prayers of wanting to get involved in such a drama, so that God’s name can be lifted higher.   

On the surface, the drama’s plot is familiar. A young girl, Janice, struggles with finding her true identity, beauty and worth. Another young person, Alex, seems confident and athletic, and the type of young man every person wants as a friend. Deep down within him, however, there is unhappiness and hostility.

 

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Janice, at the start of the play. In a broken family, with a workaholic father, overworked mother, and autistic brother.

 

Two young people, seemingly from backgrounds that are familiar to us, yet each with very real struggles of their own. Janice’s parents seem to neglect her in favor of her autistic brother. Alex and his parents seldom talk, and the relationship between Alex and his father verges on breaking point. Only towards the end, after his father’s death, does Alex come to understand the true level of love and sacrifice his father have for him. There are layers here and the play surprised me by the depth of its study on such topics as communication and miscommunication.    

Not least it also surprised me by its boldness, unafraid of depicting the emotional and situational scenarios within the play with sometimes uncomfortably close-to-life accuracy. The whole ensemble personified their characters, and Eunice and Stevano in particular embodied Janice and Alex.

 

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Alex (left) and Janice (right).

 

Janice underwent several phases throughout the play, from being a neglected and shy nobody constantly bullied, to the most attractive lady in the university, to a betrayed person in pain. Alex seemed rebellious on the outside but you sense that he’s a lonely person defending himself against the world.  All this came off incredibly effectively.

Both of them desperately search for affirmation and true love. Through unlikely circumstances, both of them meet and end up becoming more than friends, only for one of them to find herself seemingly betrayed. The plot develops.  There is too little space for the purpose of this online article to go into the drama’s plot in full.

 

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In the Recital Hall.

 

Deborah related, however, that the aim of the drama was to first connect with its audience, and then bring the reality of the message of God’s love to them. Through the testimony from the feedback forms handed out after the performance, the fellowship found that some of the audience were touched enough to start going back to church.

‘They are like the lost Prodigal Son who have found their way back to God. We are so glad that this has come to pass,’ Deborah shared. In essence, I understood the play through three main themes and messages.  

The first is that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Both protagonists go through stress and strain trying to be popular with the hot crowd. Alex betrays who he really is and the girl he loves just to fit in with his circle of friends. Janice transforms herself into a beauty only to find herself betrayed in the process. Through her pain, she finds that her true friends are the ones that she used to ignore. They are the people who are able to accept her just for who she is.

 

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Janice after the transformation.

 

In a beautifully arranged piece, Janice learns that the most important surgery a person goes through has to do not with physical looks but with the soul. The first message is that we are all beautifully made by God, and true healing comes from the soul surgery that He carries out within our hurting hearts. 

From there another theme comes in; that of our Identity in God. Because our true identity is in God, we do not have to strive to gain popularity with those who are able to accept us only if we fit into their mould of what is ‘cool’. Understanding our identity in God transforms us.

After the death of his father, Alex learnt from his mum the true story of his father; how his father used to be an angry man like him, how his father met his mum who was already a Christian and fell in love with her, and how God came into his father’s heart and moulded him.

 

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Alex’s father, broken in health and emotion but still loving his family.

 

There were many moments that Alex’s father sacrificed himself for the sake of the family, even refusing to go for treatment for his final illness, because it would cost money that was needed by the family.

In one particularly poignant scene, after Alex had roughly treated his father in a heated argument and stormed into his room, the father who was already very sick took one of Alex’s broken shoes and mended it for him without Alex even knowing about it.

God transformed Alex’s father and when Alex learnt about his father, it brought about a process of brokenness and catharsis in his heart. When we encounter God in our hearts, it brings a deep process of surgery in the soul which will transform us. It will bring us through the painful process of repentance but also empower us to love from first experiencing His love.    

 

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The Musical Drama was not all solemn. There were many comedic moments interspersed throughout.

 

In Alex’s case, it humbled his heart but he also found freedom and rest in his soul. He mustered the courage to sought forgiveness from Janice, and God restored the friendship between the two.  With newfound wisdom and humility, he shared with Janice the nature of genuine love. In the process, Janice also came to understand the love her family had for her, and God restored her bond with her family.

Eunice (Janice) shared in a testimony that her life is very similar to her character in the play. She came from a background with busy parents all the time. ‘A lot of times I asked God why did He put me in a family like mine,’ she shared.

 ‘Growing up, I can only remember bits and pieces of my childhood. It’s blurry. But somehow through this musical, I could really feel the love among the cast and crews. It was then that I realized God put such amazing, stupendous, wonderful, irreplaceable people around me that loves and encourages me. That upholds me when I feel down. That I can trust my life with.’

 

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The main committee of the musical.

 

She shared that in place of a broken family, God had given her friends that she could count and rely on. ‘And a part of me could not shake off the thought, where, instead of me saving the numbers of souls that came for the musical, what if I was the one being saved instead? This shows the length God is willing to put us through, for us to realize His big plan for us.’

There was apparent a lot of passion, hard work and dedication that went into the play’s production. Eunice shared, ‘As a fellowship of Christians, I personally think, we grew more united, and we learnt to appreciate each other. How could we not? 6 months of working with each other. 6 months to learn all about the flaws in our brothers and sisters, and yet love each other based on our personality differences’

 

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The UCSI Christian Fellowship heads of department.

 

‘Where happiness are shared, and hardships are prayed upon. The experience each of us had individually, is a gift from God, be it a lesson to be learned, or a treasure to uphold close to heart. I’ve had so much fond memories with them. I would give anything, anything at all to go through it all over again’.       

 

NOTE: All pictures kindly contributed by the UCSI Christian Fellowship.

 

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