HKYAF and the British Council Pull Back the Curtain

HKYAF and the British Council Pull Back the Curtain

Writing for theatre can seem like a mystery, so two groups are helping people figure it out

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A scene from Weekends, once of the winning plays from last year's Pull Back the Curtain.
A scene from Weekends, once of the winning plays from last year's Pull Back the Curtain.

Following last year's full-house performances, Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (YAF) and the British Council's Pull Back the Curtain returns next month with new theatre pieces written by some of Hong Kong's very best young playwrights.

This spring, 26 budding talents embarked on a journey of creative exploration with Pull Back the Curtain, a youth script-writing programme. Guided by professional theatre director and playwright Clare Stearns, participants explored the world of theatre, experimented with ideas, articulated their thoughts on ethical and social issues, and watched each other's stories take shape.

Three selected 20-minute scripts will be brought to life on stage on June 12 and 13.

One play, Breathe Me, by Shen Xingzhou, a 24-year-old graduate from Chinese University, will be transformed into a professional physical theatre production directed by YAF's Artistic Director Lindsey McAlister. The two others, Awake by 16-year-old Nastassja Torio from YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College and Mike by Claire Chang Jun-leng, also 16, from Renaissance College, will receive staged readings directed by director and producer Candice Moore.

If you are a theatre fan, and would like to be part of the Pull Back the Curtain audience and experience the talent of Hong Kong's young playwrights for yourself, tickets are now available.

Want to write your own play?

Theatre is one of the oldest and most enduring forms of art, and a script is the creative seed from which a powerful live theatre performance grows. A successful playwright tells a story that speaks to the audience and sheds light on important issues at the same time.

Here are some tips on how to get started:

  • Stories happen all around us. Take inspiration from everything - newspaper headlines, overheard conversations, images and expressive phrases.
  • What story do you want to tell? Summarise your story in a couple of sentences on a Post-it and stick it by your desk to keep it in mind.
  • Think about how you want to speak to the audience and how to make your play meaningful in the world today.
  • Devise a "conflict" or dramatic issue that builds as the play progresses.
  • Make a plan for the structure of your play. Think about how the story will develop, what the climax will be and how you want it to end. Although your plan might change along the way, it is helpful to have a structure to follow.
  • Understand your characters. To create believable, multifaceted characters, you need to know more about them than just the information you use in the play. Think about their backgrounds, their motivation and goals. This will help you make their dialogue and actions convincing for the audience.
  • Remember that dialogue is not the only way to let the audience know what is happening. You can use stage directions to convey information through actions and gestures as well. Instead of having characters say, "I'm scared!", for example, write directions that show them hiding or cowering.
  • For your first draft, just write! Once you have everything on paper, you can set to revising, rewriting and editing.
  • When you are satisfied with your draft, host a reading. Get friends and family members to read the different roles and invite others to listen. Ask for their honest feedback about whether they find the characters convincing, which parts they liked, which parts they found boring, etc. Listen to what they have to say and be objective, as good feedback will help you polish your play.

Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation & the British Council's Pull Back the Curtain 2015 - Sharing Performance

School performances

Friday and Saturday June 12 and 13, 4pm to 5.15pm

Public performances

Friday and Saturday June 12 and 13, 7.30pm to 8.45pm
Free admission, online registration required
Venue: Drama Studio, Chinese International School
Enquiries: kerryl@hkyaf.com / 2877 2656
Suitable for: Ages 12 and above
Performed in English

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Pull back the curtain

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