11 Oct, 2019
10 : 00
The Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s Performing Arts Department is always abuzz come Mondays and Tuesdays as the cast of Elf the Musical head to the auditorium to continue rehearsing for the much anticipated winter play, Elf, centered around an elf that realises to be actually human and afterwards he embarks on a journey of self-discovery in New York city.
Since the auditions in August, there have been some developments regarding this production, whose lead is Year 11 student, Guy Christensen. According to Freda Humber, the plays Director and Performing Arts Teacher, there is going to be a pre-show. “Before the actual show we are going to have a performance by the Primary School students” The pre-show is an addition made by Miss Humber, and is not part of the original script. The reasoning behind this is to ensure that Primary School students get an equal opportunity to showcase their talents as Secondary students will.
The cast and crew consist of 45 students (above the original planned number) made up of Year three to Year 11 students whose role is to support with the technical aspects of the production like the lighting, costume and prop design, guided by Allison Cusato, Secondary School Visual Art Teacher.
The team had a new addition this week, Mr. Allan Nazareno, Yew Chung Education Foundation's Artist in Residence who shared his ideas and expertise in preparation for the final production. “Allan came in with some great ideas, and gave a different perspective to how we can set up the stage” said Freda.
The challenge of putting together the production has been getting the cast in the same place all at once; but due to the different grades the students are in, their schedules clash, which has required for Miss Humber and her team to improvise even with lunchtimes by having students go to the drama class then and eat before continuing with rehearsals.
The challenges do not however outshine the fact that the students from Primary and Secondary school are gradually forming relationships as opposed to being separate groups in one facility, as intended. Although met by some sceptism by her colleagues in the field, Miss Humber was adamant that combining the multiple Year levels would contribute to the school’s unification.
Kate Woods, the play’s Assistant Director also mentions that the selection of students from different grades also allowed for the best talent to be picked for specific roles, “you wouldn’t get a Primary student giving the same quality performance as the Secondary student would. So, we were able to give lead roles to students who would be able to live up to act the parts perfectly”
Combining the year levels has also resulted in Secondary School students taking on the exemplar role as their juniors look up to them and tend to model their behavior. “Some of the seniors have taken it upon themselves to try and look out for the younger students, which has been great for developing camaraderie” adds Kate.
Students’ performance skills have improved with every rehearsal, this is in addition to their bicultural, communication and other soft skills that will benefit them in their daily lives.
The dress rehearsal is likely to be approximately two weeks before the show and after that it will be time for the cast to break a leg!