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Zoom it live 2020 “Speak Up and Act Out! On Air!” 

Dr. YUEN Hau-lung Samson

Teacher-in-charge of the Drama Club 

Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School

會訊第87 (20219)


(The article below was first published in EDB Pulse, Issue: April 2021, under the title “Speak Up and Act Out! On Air!”. The copyright of this article is not restricted but authorization by the author must be sought before it is published elsewhere.)


Stage is to actors what water is to fish. As a drama teacher, I always find it thrilling to see my students shine on stage where they can find their confidence, satisfaction and recognition. However, owing to the outbreak of COVID-19, most of the drama activities in school that involve physical contact have been postponed, shelved or even cancelled. It really gnaws at my heart whenever the young talented actors from our Drama Club ask me whether they will have a chance to perform again.

Thanks to the advances of technology, as Joe Leung, Chief Curriculum Development Officer of NET Section, once mentioned, teachers can now defy ‘the confines of time and space and creating virtual learning environments and experience’. In November this year, the NET Section of the Education Bureau organized an online drama competition called ‘Speak Up – Act Out!’ Improvised Drama Competition 2020/21. It was a competition in which students improvised a radio drama and performed it live via Zoom. Students were given only ninety minutes to prepare for the script and performance based on a stimulus. When our school’s NET, Ms. Lai-ling Wong, and I come across the promotion materials of the competition in October, both of us did not even give it a second thought and agreed unanimously to join the competition as it offered the grimmer of hope that our S5 students would shine on stage again before their graduation. The time was extremely tight before the competition but with her eagerness, Ms Wong was able to compile all the training materials and offer to coach the six participants – five from Secondary 5 and one from Secondary 3.

As a co-trainer, I witnessed how these six participants had transformed from feeling confused to enjoying the competition. Confused because it was their first time to act in a ‘virtual’ environment even though they had multiple stage experiences. Unfamiliar with the new form of performance, the team failed to come up with a complete story during the training session. They realized how different a radio drama was since they had to create the context with their voices and sound effects instead of using props, backdrops and costumes. Luckily, no sooner had they reminisced the team spirit they once held in previous competitions than the frustration on their faces evaporated. Upon hearing Ms Wong’s practical advice, they reflected on their failure and subsequently changed their strategies for the competition.

Their new strategies seemed to work. On the day of the competition, they came up with a creative radio drama based on the given stimulus ‘Treasure Hunt’. It was a story about two teams of students in pursuit of a treasure that a national museum lost. Their seamless cooperation, innovative script and realistic sound effects won the adjudicators’ applauses. Finally, the students were once again able to shine on the stage, though it is only virtual, and took the first prize home.

To many students, COVID-19 might be a nightmare or even a big setback in life, but the achievement and experience they gained from this competition would definitely bring them a sweet memory.


Sharing of the participants

Ryan (5C)

“Frankly, my teammates and I weren’t really expecting much out of the competition, we joined for the sake of memories and experience, and obviously for the fun of it. I’ve learnt that communication is truly the key to a successful performance and script. I’ve also learnt that input from all members is also extremely crucial to a cohesive script and performance. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to be given the opportunity to take part and win such an innovative competition. This was truly an eye-opener, and the lessons I’ve learnt will surely stick by me as I grow up.”

Joanna (3D)

“During the competition, I got nervous because I mostly doubted myself. I had all kinds of negative thinking such as “I might make a mistake and make our team lose because of it”. But when Ryan said it didn’t matter if we lost and having fun while doing it was what mattered, it actually helped me. When we attended the training, we did have lots of fun - putting ideas we all worked on and helping each other on how to improve. When we heard we got first place, we all jumped up and screamed! I mean who wouldn’t? But I’ve learned that winning is not important but having fun while doing it is what makes you happy.”

Emile (5D) 

“Although we had barely any experience, we were all able to overcome our nervousness and fear of the unknown. We were obviously over the moon when we heard we had won despite being up against a dozen groups of what seemed like professional voice actors. Our teachers were very supportive of us, and we definitely could not have got to where we are without them.”

Wendy (5D) 

“Before the start of the competition, I felt very nervous with a sense of unease. I thought of a lot of things that could go wrong at any moment. Then when the time came, I felt scared because it all happened so quickly. I was glad that my friends and teammates had backed me up. After the competition, I was relieved that it was over, but was still anxious to know about the results. After the results came out, I was surprised and excited that we had won. I would like to thank my teachers and the organizers to have let me and my friends have this opportunity (to join the competition). Thank you!”


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