As we enter the scene of an underwater landscape of the siren world melded inextricably with that of the land-based world of the human realm, we have Donaven Lim’s Valley of Tears, a joint collaboration between the Digital Arts Guild (DAG), Music Society, and Nature Club.
An Oriental-esque scene plays before our eyes as the story of coexistence between the sirens and the human village that rely upon them for fresh water show the oppressive nature of one force of over another. The waters are tainted by the power of nature, showing a rather human side of the sirens. When the village-dwellers are forced to sacrifice a couple bearing a child in order to maintain the balance, we can see that it upsets it. At the same time, the sirens crown a new High Priestess, and when the birth of the human child disrupts the sacred ceremony, she calls the sirens to land. The sirens echo the notion of fair exchange but how much of it is really fair? Maintaining a specific population number to obtain clean water is what they could term as coexistence, but only to their benefit.
The haunting overtures of the sirens meld an almost otherworldly feeling when contrasted against the “soil-born” humans of the land, whose scenes are peppered with the earthly nuances of jarring sounds. The projection was a little soft at times but the few hiccups did not take away from the overall acting. Costumes were synonymous with both groups, of which the sirens’ ethereal dresses contrasted starkly against that of the villagers’ simple garb.
As they exchange one life for another, we see the inhumanity – and this is very interesting – because the sirens claim that they show no humanistic sides. However, their actions say otherwise. Hiba Khalid plays Hibana, the newly appointed High Priestess with a soft temperament who adopts the human child Kallan, christened as Kana, played by Ayaka Terauchi. Hibana raises her as though she was one of her own, giving her access to both worlds, but she neither belongs in the human world and unwanted by the other sirens, lies in the in-between.
The humans, having discovered that it is possible to kill a siren has them retaliating in measure and as it escalates, Hibana is forced to make difficult decisions regarding her “sisters” and the human child she has come to care for. When Assane, played by Marsya Hazanan, wrests power from Hibana, the balance is called into question and as it escalates, drives both sides to desperation and death.
Valley of Tears reminds us that power does not necessarily lend itself to peace and may worsen over time. It is those who value peace and coexistence that may wield the power most effectively, though power in the right hands may not necessarily bring more peace. It may even bring strife because when the play ends, Kana/Kallan (of two identities) is left to wander the valley in the aftermath of the war between the sirens and the humans.
Ooi Yi Ning
Light and Sound:
Karmen Ong Kai Min
Chong Xin Yi
Koh Jia Xin
Lim Pei Tee
Ong Li Ying
Diow Rhu Jie
Loh Wei Le
Written and Directed by
By Sara Yee