This Thursday, Friday and Saturday, KIS high school drama department is producing five one act plays written, directed and performed by l students. Go to watch! But first, catch up with a few students working to make this happen.
“Beauty Myth” with writer and director Juebin, co-director Clement, and stage manager Jessica
The central character of “Beauty Myth” is a young woman who moves from America to attend an international school in Korea. What she she sees when she arrives is a cultural obsession with beauty. Juebin (grade12) wrote the play to highlight how of the many standards we might measure ourselves by, the standard of beauty is one of the narrowest. Make up is great. Looking pretty is great. But the implication that women must wear make up, must attend their appearance – that’s what Juebin explores in “Beauty Myth.” She hopes the audience reflects on their own beauty choices too.
Writing and directing is a good challenge for Juebin. While writing she met with Ms. Cuellar to work through writer’s block. And once she had a vision for her play, Juebin had to learn how to lead so that her crew also found that vision. As co-directors, both Juebin and Clement (grade 11) have say in the sound, lighting, props, and music. Clement admits things don’t always go as planned, but directing is fun. Once production decisions are made, first time stage manager Jessica (grade 10) is in charge of ensuring a smooth performance. Jessica says she is constantly “on” while the play is onstage.
“Infected With Love” with writer and director Andrew, co-director James, and stage manager Ismail
Before enrolling at KIS, Andrew (grade 12) was already steeped in drama programs at his Korean public school. This is a slightly different challenge, though, because he actually wrote the play. Andrew has the fun of taking an idea from first draft through its portrayal by actors onstage.
Seeing your vision come to life piece by piece is magical. I’m addicted to that feeling.
Andrew and James (grade 12) had doubts about how the play might go. They and their crew had to be flexible to one another to make “Infected With Love” work as lighthearted but thought provoking, and they hope the audience has fun (even laughs!) while watching. Helping to pull the play together is Ismail (grade 11), who interacts with everyone involved in the play, and has fun participating in the show by making sure there is a show.
“Light Of The Blues” with writer and director Hope
Last summer, Hope (grade 12) attended a drama workshop in the US, and there she started drafting “Light Of The Blues.” Hope wrote the play very quickly – ten pages a day – but revising the story was more difficult. The play is complex, centering on siblings revisiting a childhood home, the revelation of family secrets and trauma, and the exploration of relationships.
I’m interested in how stories interact with our lives: guilt, memory, love. Which stories are the right stories?
She is pleased that her cast dived into the content, and as difficult as some of the scenes are, they offer maturity and grace to elevate the play. Hope suggests audience members be middle school age or older, and wants her audience to walk away thinking about how their own actions play out in others’ lives.
“Alternates” and “Light Of The Blues” actor Disha
Disha (grade 11) loves to act. She has been part of KIS productions since grade seven! One of her favorite plays was “Seeing Red,” a dinner theater she performed in her freshman year. The challenge of that production was that eyes were everywhere, making the whole room a stage. Disha likes to shrug off school or home stress and be another person, imagine a different life. She makes a script on paper come to life.
Disha also recognizes the power of drama to encourage change. After performing “In Our Own Backyard,” a play about bullying, lonliness, and suicide, Disha was impacted by the responce of the audience. People cried. People were moved by the story. Disha wanted to do more than invite audience interaction or thought about an issue, so while the play was still rehearsing, she helped start the Comfort Zone club in the high school, now OneKIS, which promotes inclusion in our school community.
Knowing the power and joy of drama, Disha hopes to continue studying acting.
“Alternates” co-director and general stage manager Emma
Emma most enjoys being behind the scenes, knowing what is going on, and keeping everyone on task. She is good at seeing the logistics of taking a play from its first rehearsals to its final performance. Emma works alongside Ms. Cuellar to ensure each of the one act plays have what they need.
Emma grew up watching musicals, so joining drama during grade six at KIS was natural. Her first two years, she acted small parts, but during grade eight Emma discovered the stage manager role, one she is perfectly fit to play. “Theater gets better every year,” Emma says, “It’s like a small business with Ms. Cuellar, directors, stage managers, crew, cast. Everyone has a role and everyone is needed. You hear that, but it’s true. You find your place here.” Indeed, Emma has grown up with friends she first made as a grade six actor. Now she wants an audience to watch the one act plays, to enjoy the stories, but also to appreciate the work of each person who is part of these productions.
Thank you Lauren Cuellar, high school drama teacher, and drama students for taking time to talk. Happy last rehearsals!