Child’s Play

By Loke Ting Wei

We pop pills every time we are sick. Ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes before these come into the market or are deemed fit for human consumption? Like any other products in the world, medicines have to go through many rounds of tests and trials before they are branded safe for prescription.

Ever heard of clinical trials? Medicines have to be tested on participants in clinical trials before these are declared safe for use. Similarly, the industry requires child participants for clinical trials to test the latest children’s medicines. If you are a parent, would you allow your child to be part of this trial? Would you be inclined to contribute to future medical research?

“Child’s Play” by The Necessary Stage, which was held in Science Centre in conjunction with the Bioethics Festival at this year’s Singapore Science Festival, helps answer some of these questions. It conveyed ethical issues surrounding the participation of children in clinical trials through four stories in the form of a play. While the play was targeted at secondary school children, it captured the attention of young and old alike with its light and lively comic elements which made the content comprehensive, easy to digest and entertaining.

Featured in the play was a story about how a mother of a boy who had gone into remission from cancer was debating whether to accept the trial relapse drug. The audiences turned solemn when the doctor was desperate for the mother to consider trying out the drug because it could be pivotal to the research of the drug.

This placed the mother at crossroads where she had to choose between her son’s health and her moral obligation to agree to her son being part of the clinical trials, knowing that his remission had only been made possible due to previous trials involving other children.


Within the short play of 45 minutes, the professional actors from The Necessary Stage were able to convey different sides of the story with their well-played emotions and sequence. Audiences were enlightened as the performance shed light on the issue which not many Singaporeans might have known and presented different perspectives surrounding clinical trials with children, leaving the viewers to make their own decisions.

The play has been a thought-provoking experience for the audience as everyone left with deeper thoughts in their minds. Science Centre Singapore today is not only an avenue for us to learn more about science, but can also be a platform to showcase how science is intricately related to our everyday lives which is subtly brought out through this play.

As “Child’s Play” depicts, it is not always about how science serves us, but about how we can serve science, nature and the people around us.  The learning of science is a powerful way to create a better world for all of us with more scientific advancements. Regardless of what our stance is towards children in clinical trials, we should all strive towards making the world a better place.

Continue to be inspired as you explore the range of unique upcoming offerings that make up the Singapore Science Festival!

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