Student voice 10 Sep 2018

Student-led drama at TK

By Zac Puna, Arib Rahman, and Jasmine Ng (formerly grade 6 directors of the grade 4-6 drama festival)
Photograph by CIS Communications

When you think of drama at CIS, you might think that students only act in plays and perform on stage based on teachers’ instructions. You might think that students receive a script, memorise and recite the lines, rehearse and before you know it, it’s showtime.

This is definitely not the case for the Grade 4-6 Drama Festival: How Do You Feel that took place at TK on 4 and 5 June. It was a production that was not only written and directed by grade 6 students, it was entirely coordinated by students from start to finish.

How it all started

We interviewed seven grade 6 students. They all possessed the creativity, curiosity, responsibility and leadership skills necessary to become successful directors so they were all selected to help coordinate the play. After that, we began structuring what would become our drama festival.

We planned four mini plays with each story focussing on evoking two specific emotions. In this day and age of technology, we have become disconnected from our emotions so we wanted the audience to reconnect with their feelings as they watched each play. We wanted it to be a meaningful experience for them.

Teamwork and all that jazz

We then co-wrote our scripts with our teacher director Ms Sierra Laderoute. Once that was done, it was time to start putting the show together!  Zac Puna, one of the grade 6 directors, said: “In a way, writing a play is a lot like writing a book, but it’s so much better. Instead of reading a story, you can hear, watch, and FEEL it. The drama festival taught me and the other directors so much, and we’ve made a connection like no other.

Jasmine Ng, another grade 6 director, added: “As we plotted more scenes and started to see the basic picture of the play, it became so awesome. Characters that were written down on paper, became real people in a world where everyone could hear their story.

We also had to lead the audition process to select students from grades 4 to 6 to act in our mini plays. During the process, we had to solve various problems and work together as a team to figure out who to cast for which characters. Once that was done, we were ready to begin rehearsals.

In the beginning, the rehearsal process was a little difficult because the show had just started and we didn’t know what the final product would look like. Directing our friends proved a challenge. Sometimes we needed guidance from our teacher. Now we have this special understanding of what our teachers go through. It isn’t easy!

During rehearsals, our student cast and directors did everything. We selected the music and costumes for each play. We designed, constructed, and painted our own set. Our cast were also helping backstage, moving sets on and off stage during scene transitions. Arib Rahman, one of our grade 6 directors was also our sound technician. He set up the cue list, created sound effects, and was in charge of all things sound-related. Trust us when we say that it’s not as easy as it sounds!

Being the sound technician is a lot tougher than it looks, or should I say sounds. After adding all the sounds to the show, it was like adding another dimension to it. I was really amazed that such a simple thing could take the show up to such a high level”, Arib said.

Every little job that needed to be done was completed by either our cast or one of our directors.

Curtain time

After all the hard work, we were finally ready for show night. We had two evening performances for our parents and the school community, as well as two daytime performances for our peers and teachers. The show was hosted in our intimate Black Box Theatre and it went off without a hitch. The festival went even better than we could have imagined! Our audience was captivated by our performance skills, and all the little details that contributed to an amazing festival.  

Final thoughts

It’s an amazing feeling when something you’ve worked on so hard turns out to be such a  success. We were not only proud of ourselves, we were also impressed with the acting skills of our cast. Directing a production is totally different from acting. The goals that you set, the stress that you experience and the problems you have to solve are a different ball game entirely. However, the differences between the two roles make both experiences very special and fun in their own way.

Our Drama Festival: How Do You Feel helped the audience to feel a range of emotions! It helped our cast to feel confident, determined, and enthusiastic. However, the most important feeling that we could feel from the audience, cast, crew members and directors was connection. Imagine the possibilities if we could connect to one another more frequently!

Ms. Sierra Laderoute, festival coordinator and director said: “The talent, drive, and leadership shown by the grade 6 directors truly blew my mind. From beginning to end, their commitment and responsibility to the show was limitless. This festival became a passion for all of us. We ate, slept, walked, and lived this festival. These extraordinary students and this project left an imprint on my heart that I will never forget.