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Devoted myself in doing dramatic activities with my students

Silvia Yu余慧群 / Experienced primary school teacher of English Language


“The mission of theatre, after all, is to change, to raise consciousness to their human possibilities.” Let me start with a quote from Arthur Miller, the author of “The Death of a Salesman”, who was a famous modern American playwright.

Dramatic art may be a form of entertainment to most people but it is magical to me. I have been a theatre fan myself ever since my first visit for a long time. Theatre brings me through magical journeys of humanities which shape a different “ME”, eventually and unconsciously.  Therefore I strongly believe that those “changes” could happen in my students as well.

Then I started to produce plays for School Drama Festival. However, I had none experience on stage myself. Then I took quite a lot courses offered by former Education Department about drama education at that time and watched whatever dramatic productions I came across. I learnt to direct my students to play purely in the perspective of what an audience expects to see on stage. 

Meanwhile, I found amazing impact on my students, especially for underachievers and those who have discipline problems. They stood up before the crowd and spoke confidently. They learnt to help each other and built up long last friendship. I saw beautiful souls. I soon realised the magical power of dramatic art.

Coincidentally, Mr Tsin invited our school to join a Drama in Education research project so I first tried out using drama conventions in my English classrooms. I found it really hard to get my students involved and enjoyed in the imaginative world since I did not get the gist of the Drama in Education. I still remembered how embarrassing I was in doing Teacher-In-Role when my students challenged me on my acting. They could not believe and go into the fictional world I set up for them. I was lost and could not figure out the reasons at this moment. I sorted that out during my MFA study that I was the one who did not believe the existence of the fictional world the first place.

I have limited exposure in drama performance myself. My first one in life was done with HKTDA “Goodbye Maiden Love” which I played as a teacher. I had stage fright and even failed to project my voice properly. It was irony that I was struggling with the same problems of my students. Following that was wonderful years of adventure in the real dramatic world in HKAPA, I had my first acting lessons and started to figure out what dramatic art really is.

Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” claimed Sanford Meisner, an American actor, also known as Sandy. That is a quote introduced by my beloved acting teacher Mr Chan Chu Hei in the lessons. He said that is the key why drama is an art form. Actors himself needs to "live sincerely” in the imaginary scenes on stage. It will take my rest of life getting myself into it.  Dramatic art is all about human.

Teacher Chu Hei brought us to start a journey for ourselves. The acting lessons turned my life up indeed. I learned to look deep down into myself, exercise, reflect and unscramble. Moreover, my horizon expands with the applied dramatic forms like Play Back Theatre, Forum Theatre, Theatre-In-Education, Process Drama, Ethnodrama, etc. They are all about bringing “changes” in life.

Dramatic art is not a form of entertainment definitely. It changes my life as well as my students’ life. It triggers our inner power with enjoyment. It is the best tool for education. I have tried a Forum Theatre with my primary children on the issue of SEN. Their perspective towards SEN changed when they were involved in the discussions and trying out their suggestions as spec-actors. They are able to step into our shoes themselves when they speak, think and react in other roles. Both the actors and audience were empowered, including the SEN parents. Therefore, I devoted myself in doing more dramatic activities with my students in the future.

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