09 Mar, 2018
10 : 00
On February 28, Years 9-11 students took part in this year’s IGCSE Music & Drama Celebration. Featuring a collection of performances as varied as scenes from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, to a violin concerto by Vivaldi, to renditions of modern rock songs by Skillet and Borns, the wider school community joined together to celebrate the talents and hard work of their classmates.
Taking the Stage
One of the unique approaches taken in this year’s showcase was that instead of using a conventional performance space – with the audience sitting in rows of chairs facing the stage – different performances were set up in various areas around the auditorium, effectively bringing the spectators into the performance.
Utilizing the space in this way, we were able to provide students with an understanding that theatre and music can be staged anywhere; it doesn’t have to be in a conventional theatre. Additionally, this structure introduced new elements of arts learning to the students, as they were faced with, and had to solve, the challenges of setting up lights and sound in new ways.
One of the key benefits for students who study performance art is that it enables them to express themselves in the world. Both through music and drama, it’s necessary for students to work through and manage their self-consciousness in order to perform in front of an audience – the result of which is also highly beneficial to other aspects of their lives. Developing the confidence to express themselves on stage will then translate into expressing their ideas and opinions in other social and business contexts in the future.
Throughout this process, teachers should remember that shy students have to be encouraged. Foremost, they must feel safe, and forcing students never works. In the beginning, it’s enough that students only take on as much as they feel comfortable with, because over time, eventually the skills will come.
Of course, at an international school, there are some students who are not native English speakers. In these cases, it can be difficult for them to focus on the nuances of their performance if they’re simply searching for the correct words to use or are have concerns about pronunciation. So, allowing students to speak and practice in their mother tongue can help to build their confidence and allow them to focus on their physicality.
Using this method, one of the Years 9-10 extracts during this year’s IGCSE Music & Drama Celebration began in English, and then switched into Chinese. The students were able to focus more on using non-verbal means of communication through body language and gesture, as well as their use of voice to develop and portray their characters.
*Photographs by Secondary Mathematics Teacher Richard Payne.