In many European and American countries, drama education is considered not only an integral part of elementary education, but also an important form of holistic education. Since 1960, the Department of Education of the United States has incorporated creative drama into the primary school curriculum. Britain also began to explore the theater in education system 60 years ago, and formally incorporated drama education into national standard curriculum in 1992.
To “advocate holistic education,” “draw the quintessence of western education,” and “cultivate and enrich students' artistic and sports abilities,” KWA set up a Musical Club at the beginning of this semester and hired musicians from a professional musical troupe as instructors.
On the night of December 20, after more than three months of rehearsals, the Musical Club unveiled its first play Hairspray. The little performers forgot themselves in singing and dancing on stage, presented their own version of the Broadway classic, and impressed the audience with their upbeat spirit and confidence in chasing dreams.
Unveil the curtain
About the play
The KWA version of Hairspray
Hairspray is a classic Broadway campus musical and has won eight Tony Awards, the highest honors in the American theater community, and four Laurence Oliver Prizes, the top honor in the British theatre industry. The play features school boys and girls, and KWA students made some adaptations to reflect the KWA campus life and produced a version of Hairspray of their own.
The heroin Tracy is a 16-year-old chubby girl. Her dream is to dance on the Corney Collins Show, but the journey of pursuing this dream is bumpy. Despite that, Tracy manages to overcome all the difficulties with confidence, and make it to her dream stage. The little performers of KWA have learnt from Tracy the fearless and optimistic spirit to pursue one’s dream.
About the instructors and the cast
Professional musicians as instructors
Chief instructor: Huang Luning
Drama director, drama teacher, graduated from the Department of Drama and Film Literature, Nanjing University and the Stage Performance Department of Oslo University. Has directed and starred in many stage plays, and was invited to the International Drama Festival in Montreal, Canada.
Co-instructors: Danie A. Griffi, Li Ketan
Danie A. Griffi: A graduate of education major in William Carey University of the United States, and has long taught stage plays in several schools.
Li Ketan: Drama actor, director, screenwriter, collaborative director of Shang-8 Theater, director of Jiangxu Xiban workshop, and co-founder of Murongfu Drama Studio.
You are the Next Superstar
Considering the difficulty of the play, the instructors held rounds of review to decide on the final cast based on the vocal condition, singing and performing ability, the physique and artistic talents of the candidates.
The costume photo
The show attracted a full crowd of parents and students, who were captured by the engaging performance, the beautiful singing and the touching story.
“The show reminded me of my younger day when I was fearless to chase my dream. It’s indeed very relating.” – A parent of a tenth grader
Fluent and natural in lines, skillful in singing, the little artists aroused applauses and hurray from the audience from time to time.
Behind the scene
Hard work pays off
Take each rehearsal equally serious as the debut
This Broadway classic musical involves a large number of performers and dance episodes and requires high singing skills. Some students have to act as parents in the 30s and 40s – far from their own age, not to mention the subtle relationship of characters. All this has added to the difficulty of the play.
This Broadway classic musical involves many performers and dance episodes and requires high singing skills. Some students must act as parents in the 30s and 40s – far from their own age, not to mention the subtle relationship of characters. All this has added to the difficulty of the play.
Practice singing in the recording studio on weekends
But the students remained optimistic and faced all kinds of challenges directly.
In the rehearsal hall, they warmed up, practiced dancing and tried different formations again and again at the instruction of teachers. No one complained against the intensity of training. Even when Tracy and Link, the two leading characters of the play, worked themselves so hard that they relapsed into their old wound in leg, they didn’t miss a single rehearsal.
The parents were also very supportive. We believe it not just was a wonderful time for the students, but also gave parents the opportunity to be there for their children, witness their progress, and have a deeper understanding about musical education.
A happy, rewarding and meaningful experience
With the intensive training and the tight rehearsal schedule, the students, though exhausted, felt very happy and rewarding for taking part in the play.
The rehearsals were really exhausting, but they also had the most fun. I did enjoy performing the musical. It’s a rare opportunity to be on stage with my buddies. I really cherished it. In particular I want to thank teacher Xie and Pangpang.
--- Zhao Yunqi
I like dancing and want to improve my English, so I signed up for it to make the most of my spare time. Gradually I developed a strong liking for performance. Everyone has done a lot to make it a success. The school made sure that everything was taken care of. The teachers also gave a lot. I hope I will learn more about musicals in the future.
--- Tang Zixin
For me the most interesting thing is acting. At first I was really nervous about it, but then at the instruction of teachers, I picked up some acting skills and became very comfortable when doing it.
--- Liang Yijing
I had a deeper understanding about musicals through the experience. A musical performer must be versatile and resourceful. Dancing is part of it. In our play, the singing part was terrific, which we owe to teacher Xie Xinhua and Luning.
--- Chen Xi
I must admit that it was a little tiresome, but I learnt a lot by working with teachers and other students. At first, I had absolutely no idea about acting, but now I am more confident on stage, thanks to the instruction of the teachers.
--- Zhao Kaiqi
As a comprehensive stage performing art, musical absorbs the elements of a variety of arts, including music, dance, literature, drama, poetry, film, painting and so on. The teachers of Student Affairs Department said: "Musical education can not only develop students' artistic talent, tap their potential in all aspects, increase self-confidence, stimulate imagination and vitality, and increase social experience, but also help them practice and improve their body functions, such as body coordination, language expression, sense of rhythm and sense of music."
As always, hard work pays off. With their face soaked in sweat, the students looked firm, determined, and persistent, like the demoiselle crane who never gives up. "Everybody can dance", the characters cried out as they set off to pursue their dreams, encouraging our students to continue to chase their dream in real life. “Everybody can have a dream. Everybody can pursue it!”