Baring your soul in front of a crowd of people sounds like a pretty terrifying experience, but a group of students from Delia Memorial School (Glee Path) were brave enough to do it last month.
The students, who ranged from 12 to 17 years old, all signed up to take part in “Emaginating”, a theatre programme run by their school, with the help of students from the University of Hong Kong (HKU), and Shiona Carson, the artistic director of performing arts group Shakespeare4All.
They put together a one-of-a-kind theatre performance titled Glow with the Flow, in which they shared the personal journeys that led them out of their darkest moments and towards finding their inner glow.
The performance was made up of 12 different segments written by nine student playwrights. Each piece incorporated a mix of acting, dance and music to tell real-life stories on a range of topics, from family issues to identity crises.
Under the guidance of Carson, and HKU students Brian Eagen Lau and Agnes Kwok, the teens brought their personal stories to life.
The finished product was showcased at Studio 303, Chong Yuet Ming Cultural Centre, at HKU, on April 12 and 13.
In one piece by 17-year-old Alexandra Anselmo Sotto, titled Facade, all the actors were given masks to cover their faces. Alexandra wanted the masks to represent the pressure she feels to conform, while the performers' movements would represent her need for creativity and individuality.
Angel Lok Yi-lung, 15, based her piece, titled Enough, on her real-life experience. It tells the story of a teenager who is struggling to fit in, before she looks inside and rediscovers her younger self – the one who didn’t care about conforming to societal norms. She realises that only she gets to decide if she is good enough.
Tim Aneelee Cadano Remoquillo dedicated her piece, Heaven’s Love, to her late grandmother. The 16-year-old even wrote a song called Sixteen which describes the role her grandmother played in her life. Her piece also offers a glimpse into Filipino culture, from shopping at the hawker to making adobo - a national dish in the Philippines.
These pieces were the result of many months of hard work. With no previous theatre experience, the students took part in a series of workshops on scriptwriting and acting back in October. They spent a total of 200 hours rehearsing their performances.
Twelve-year-old Shalome Nevaeah Rodrigues said the Emaginating project helped her learn how to handle stress. “It taught me how to manage my time.”
She added that she hoped the audience would take something away from the stories being shared. “Being able to express ourselves not only benefits us, but others, too.”
Moira Daphe G Toledo, 15, said the experience taught her that she is capable of more than she realised. “I learned the skill of perseverance. No matter how hard [the process of training] was, it was worth it in the end.”