Five years ago, when Terence Mak first entered secondary school, she was shy, quiet, and prone to stage fright. Little did she know that a random invitation from her drama teacher would change all that.
Last December, the True Light Middle School of Hong Kong Drama Team was crowned champion at the 70th Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival for the fourth year in a row.
“It’s an honour to win,” Terence, the former vice-chairperson of the team, told Young Post. “As a Form Six student, I wasn’t supposed to join the contest because of my upcoming public exams. But I just wanted to be a part of it one last time.”
Looking back, if it weren’t for the constant encouragement from her teachers and seniors, the now 17-year-old wouldn’t have perused an interest drama.
“Purely by coincidence, I was invited to join the drama team. At that time, I had zero interest in it. However, a group of senior students really inspired me to push my limits. Rather than because I was especially into drama, I’d say that the main reason I stayed was because of the bond the team shared.”
In time, however, she developed a real love of drama. No longer the shy junior student who lacked confidence and passion, Terence became a dedicated member of the team, keen to pass on its legacy.
Luckily, a new cohort of Form Four and Five students were ready to take the baton from Terence for this year’s competition. The category they were enrolled in, the Secondary Four-Six Rehearsed Original Scene, required them to not only act, but create their own play from scratch. The scriptwriting process lasted from July to October – from brainstorming ideas to refining and compiling them into a final product.
“We tried our best to make characters who would suit everyone. For example, one of our members had a very loud and assertive voice, so we made her a judge. It was just a perfect match,” said Form Five Hannah Calaguas, the current chairperson of the group. The story they put together revolved around a court case on whether marriage was allowed between robots and humans. The robots wanted it; the humans didn’t.
“As for the ending, because we wanted something dramatic, we planned a plot twist: the judge, who’s the main character, was actually a robot,” said Hannah, “This robot acted like a human; we tried to show that anyone can play with your mind, even someone in a seemingly neutral position.”
“It’s as if the judge is our devices,” added Terence. “Robots hope to manipulate and even ‘marry’ us. And throughout it all, we might be totally oblivious of the fact that the technology is slowly taking control of us.”
Playing the part of a no-nonsense lawyer was Hannah’s biggest challenge. She had to constantly push herself to be assertive in her speech and movements.
But aside from practising as much as possible, Hannah said the key to cracking the role was learning from others, and she spent a good deal of time watching films and TV shows about lawyers.
Additionally, she said it was crucial to say the words out loud to herself when memorising the script. “Before presenting your character to other people, you first have to build confidence in yourself,” she says, “Only if you’re confident with what you’re saying can convey it to others with power and strength.”
Even though the competition is over, and Terence and Hannah may not be on the team next year, they hope they can support the junior members of the club, in the same way they were nurtured by their seniors.
“I hope they can find joy in drama,” Hannah said. “The team is so much more than just a team. It’s a group of great people that I’ll definitely treasure in my life.”