RAG stands for... Receive A Gold?
“RAG" stands for "Receive and Give", an arduous, but fulfilling summer long project where freshmen come together to prepare for large-scale performances, for a good cause.
This year marked the third year that Kent Ridge Hall and Sheares Hall have collaborated to put up a spectacular performance worthy of praise. In the face of Covid-19, our freshies had to adapt and adjust to the new measures; all while having to put on a good show. Dancers had to work in groups of 5, each specialising in a particular genre, while Floaters were similarly split into teams to design different props or sew vibrant costumes.
Additionally, this was first time that RAG Day took on a virtual format - each performance was produced and filmed prior, contrary to previous live iterations of RAG Day where performances were carried out in front of roaring crowds. In spite of all these challenges, KRaSheares RAG clutched it out and managed to pull off its FIRST EVER GOLD!!!
Catch our Hall's magnificent show here!
KRaSheares RAG took on the theme of ‘Overcoming Covid-19’ this year, narrating a family’s experience in tackling Covid-19 through a close-up on each specific family member’s occupation. From a daily scene at home, the peace is violently disrupted by the introduction of Covid, and the production takes us on a journey through the vivid settings of a hospital, an airplane and a hawker centre, ultimately ending with the reminder that we should band together and not be disheartened.
Of course, the floats team worked tirelessly as well to complement the dancers with eye-catching props (all made from scratch by the way!!), from HDB blocks and stretchers made of wood, and hawker stalls made from cardboard. Not to mention the amazing costumes team who also made the costumes from raw materials!
When watching the RAG video, try not to be too distracted by the various KR top chais and hot guys - upon further inspection, the production highlights the struggle of unemployment and losing all your friends, but ultimately coming together to solve these issues. It also commends society for coming together to tide through difficult periods.
We were fortunate to be able to interview some RAG exco/members and here are their thoughts and words of advice!
Vera (Project Director) & Julius (Vice-Project Director)
What was the hardest part about RAG?
Julius (VPD): Due to the pandemic, I was unable to obtain the RAG experience I came in as a freshie last year. On top of that, RAG is conducted very differently compared to previous years making it trickier in terms of producing an engaging performance while adhering to safe distancing measures. It was difficult to come up with everything from scratch, from conceptualising, to planning rag exposure day to sourcing for materials and coming up with a budget plan.
Getting freshies to sign up for RAG was a concern as we were worried that people were unaware of the wonders of RAG due to it not being held last year. There were many uncertainties along the way as well with constant new changes and edits from higher-ups even at the very last minute.
Why is Rag fulfilling?
Julius (VPD): Firstly, it was fulfilling to be able to plan RAG exposure day and ensure that freshies know more about the different committees and experiencing new things. It was heart-warming to see freshies finding their first group of long-lasting friends in KR through an event that I was involved in planning. Even till today, many RAG freshies are still in contact with one another even if they might be from different halls.
Vera (PD): Of course, the cherry on top was definitely attaining a gold award for RAG this year. It was a really pleasant surprise for everyone involved to commemorate all the blood, sweat, tears and fun we have put in to produce a memorable performance which will go down in history as KRaSHeares’ first Gold. This was extremely unexpected as our committee went ahead with the mindset of making the best possible summer experience for the freshies despite COVID-19 making RAG more restrictive and did not stress on the results. We were able to achieve amazing results while keeping the essence of KRaSHeares RAG which is to allow our freshies to have fun and forge great memories.
What would you say to the next batch of freshies to encourage them to join RAG?
Vera (PD): RAG is truly a summer experience you will never get anywhere, and it only comes once in the freshie year. Other than experiencing new things, freshies can make long-lasting and heartfelt friendships that will tide them through their university year even if they are from different halls. It is an experience that I would say yes to in a heartbeat despite all the tiring nights and long hours of planning or headaches due to COVID-19.
I think words cannot properly describe how thankful I am to have experienced RAG, even if not in my freshie days but as the planning committee, and to have met some of the best humans through RAG.
What was the process like, especially to finish costumes in a fast paced setting?
Elaine: It was super stressful! LOL We started late due to a lot of uncertainties so we rushed everything out in about 3 weeks. Covid made it hard for us to get to know the whole comm beforehand so we also started working as strangers. It was tiring as well and we came to school everyday for like 2.5 weeks straight and only rested for approximately 4 days!
Was it easy to teach people without experience?
Elaine: No it was super hard... we had to learn everything ourselves first and there were many manpower issues, but thankfully, the freshies are very receptive and willing to learn!
Were there any difficulties faced eg. wardrobe malfunctions?
Elaine: we thought making pants was as easy as cutting 2 rectangles……but big mistake. It was very hard to estimate the amount of materials we needed so we had to keep going back to buy! Even still, it was definitely a fun experience working together :)
How was making floats despite having little to no experience beforehand (due to rag being cancelled last year)?
Stella: As RAG was cancelled last year along with the need to adhere to safe distancing measures, there wasn't any format that the floaters could follow. Therefore, it was arduous at the start during the planning phase because we didn't know how the floats would look since there wasn't much reference for us.
At the start, the committee had difficulties meeting up, so we had to resort to zoom for meetings. Nonetheless, it was fun as we could learn together with the freshies who don't have much experience and see the progress of how the floats were made. We also got to make many new friends and fostered stronger ties with the committee!
If so, will that be a concern for future raggers?
Stella: shouldn't be a concern if the committee is good jk or unless rag is cancelled HAHAHA
Ok.. a more decent answer: It wouldn't be a concern if everyone plays their part to contribute as a floater to help out with the floats! Also, join floats for guaranteed fun and if you want a wholesome com!! 10/10 no ragretz and will surely make your summer fulfilling and memorable :D
How did you cope with filming especially since it was rushed?
Charlene: Initially there was a proper filming crew at a recording studio, but the Covid restrictions suddenly tightened up. As such, there was a need to find a new videographer. In the end, we managed to find a Sheares senior who had no experience in filming dance with less than 24h notice.
Filming was an issue as the choreographers had to change positions multiple times and certain individuals had to relearn movements on the spot. Many scenes were filmed repeatedly with one scene even being refilmed 15 times! This resulted in the filming process to take really long and everyone had to stay till from 9am to 12am. It was an exhausting process but nonetheless, the dancers went with the flow and enjoyed every single bit of the process.
Everyone only sees the final edit (dance performance) but not the work that goes on behind the scenes. Can you tell me more about the struggles you faced during practices?
Qiqi: Dancing as a whole team is impactful so when it is down to only 5 people it is necessary to make it more powerful, especially since the final performance was through video. Furthermore, for those without a dance background, it was a challenge to dance with totally new people and adjust to different styles quickly. Nonetheless, all dancers did enjoy their experience as they got to try out different genres and step out of their comfort zone. It was also great that there was no segregation present between KR raggers and Sheares raggers so everyone could bond and make new friends!
What would you say to the next batch of freshies to encourage them to join rag?
Tracy: RAG is a golden opportunity to interact with people that you otherwise wouldn’t interact with, and forge long lasting friends who are going to follow you to where you live. If you're keen on joining, just try auditioning for RAG regardless of experience and come out of your comfort zone as everyone here is nice, welcoming and will be there to help each other out. Many of the dancers' dancing experience started from RAG so you can start yours in RAG as well! Don’t feel too stressed about winning as well as the most important part of RAG is to build a community before coming into university.
All in all, good job to everyone involved in the production of KRaSheares RAG! (Yes, our favourite neighbours also). Despite all the limitations, we still put up an amazing RAG video! While it may not be the live RAG performance that everyone knows and loves, RAG is ultimately still about the spirit of giving and everyone truly gave it their best - no RAGrets! We truly hope that next year’s RAG is just as fulfilling for everyone involved :)
If you guys didn't manage to catch our very own Dr Chua in action last year during the RAG Talent Show, here's a link to the article too! https://www.kronicles.org/single-post/kr-s-got-talent