Move over, Shakespeare!

Move over, Shakespeare!

Young Wang and YP cadet Laxmi Limbu caught up with three budding playwrights and the woman who brought them together

For 16-year-old Patrick Munday and Shimali de Silva, 15, theatre is a big part of life; but writing a script is new. To get a taste of it, they took part in a three-month workshop with 19 other students.

Director Clare Stearns started the workshop after going to a training course for young playwrights at London's National Theatre. "We don't have anything like that in Hong Kong … we should be doing this," said Stearns. She contacted Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation and Pull Back the Curtain was born.

After three months of learning how to express their ideas and put them in a play, several scripts were completed. Two were chosen for public readings, and one will be performed as a full production.

Island School student Patrick wasn't so sure how to structure his play, or even how to start it off. With Stearns' view that the students should "explore the things that matter to them", Patrick went with the topic of underage drinking.

"It's quite universal with students around my age," he said. "I essentially just wrote what came to mind; it just flew out of my fingers."

Scriptwriting means exposing your thoughts and character to others, but Patrick found the workshop quite liberating. "If I was at school and I wrote the exact same play, then I handed it to a teacher," he said, "it'd become less about what I've written and more about me as a person … and you'll have to live with that for the rest of your school life."

His play, Weekends, was chosen to be performed as a full theatre production. It is now being rehearsed, but the playwright hasn't been to any of the practices, preferring to keep it a surprise.

"This play is my baby and I'm worried about it, but I don't want to ruin the experience of actually seeing it properly."

Shimali has done a lot of acting, and thought the workshop was an interesting way to "bridge the two worlds of writing, and acting and performing".

Kelly Yu Hoi-ning, 15, a fellow Sha Tin College student (and her next-door neighbour), has a keen interest in reading and writing.

Working together, the pair wrote Reina. It's the story of a beauty queen who's trying to get what she wants, but in the way she wants it. Their play is one of two that will be performed as a staged reading.

"I'm not sure how it would compare to a full production … but it's definitely a huge leap from having to read aloud your own work, and it was incredible to see other people getting excited about what you've written," said Shimali.

At reading rehearsals, the duo received a lot of constructive feedback from other participants and Stearns.

"The hardest thing is knowing if what you've written is any good; and was a real opportunity to meet other people who really knew what they were doing," said Shimali.

"Their work is going to probably speak best to people of their age group," Stearns said. "The good playwright is the person who actually speaks to their audience."

HKYAF's Pull Back the Curtains will be at MacAulay Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre on Thursday and Friday.

Tickets available from Urbtix


This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Move over, Shakespeare!


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