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Guest Blog: Passport to China Day 4

Guest Blog: Passport to China Day 4 Perspective of the Music Director - Seth Weinstein

Blog #4- June 24, 2017

We've had a couple of challenging days, but we've also witnessed some breakthroughs among the cast. Acting is difficult, especially for students used to vocations in which there is one correct answer. It's easy to tell people they are singing the wrong notes; it's harder to tell them their intent isn't showing and expect them to fix it. It's also hard to remain alert and in character for nine hours on the eighth consecutive day of rehearsal.

Add to that a society in which children are largely conditioned to stay quiet. "I feel a lot, but I've been taught not to show my feelings in public," said one cast member.

"I see it in your eyes," Amy said. "But you have to find the courage to express it."

Two work sessions helped. First, we practiced all the entrances to and exits from the stage. "Find a reason for your next entrance," Amy kept repeating. Any walking should be done with purpose.

Second, I played the accompaniment for the full show and they had the option to sing or not, and to do their movements or not, as long as they remained in character. It took a while to get the hang of it. At first they simply did their usual staging. With further encouragement from Amy, though, they found the freedom to explore their characters by adding interjections and moving about the stage as impetus prompted them to.

The students were tired. "We need to splash some water on our faces," they said. Yet as soon as they were in the hallway, they were running and noisy. The trick was to harness that energy and reserve it for storytelling.

It's taken a couple of run-throughs beyond that, but gradually the cast is coming together. They're making connections with each other onstage. They're overcoming fatigue and enjoying the rewards from their effort. They've gotten accustomed to the lights and microphones. Tomorrow is the big performance, and the presence of an audience can only give further inspiration to a cast that has grown commendably in just nine days.

Perspective of the Head of Visual and Performing Arts at AISG - Betty Lin

Blog #4- June 22, 2017

There's excitement in the air! It's the second last day of the program and the day before our final performance. I am so excited for the students. As we run through our tech rehearsal this morning, I was struck by how many of layers there are in putting on a production and how each layer enhances the performance in its own way. I love how the colors, the gobos, and the slides help to tell the story of the musical. The impending entry of Miss. Trunchbull is all the more ominous with the crimson cyclorama. Hope, longing, angst, joy, and the myriad of emotions projected as different colored lights set the scene and the mood for the audience and the performers. The energy of the cast is palpable.

After the long journey of discovery for each of the student, I am certain the performance tomorrow will be spectacular. If the dress rehearsal is anything to go by, I can't wait for tomorrow to come. I am so proud of each and every one of them. As they say in theater, 'Break a leg!'.

Betty Lin

Head of Visual and Performing Arts

AISGZ faculty

Perspective of the Student Assistant Director - Gloria Huang

Blog #4- June 24, 2017

One more day left until the final performance! Wow, time just flew by! Looking back, it is fascinating to watch the students transform from being shy and closed-off to being open, confident, and expressive. Each and every one of them improved so much it's unbelievable.

After the performance in front of the cast of Wicked, our cast had trouble maintaining that energy for their performances every single time. It always takes a while for them to slowly warm up and gain the amount of energy needed for performances. Without energy, the kids just look like they are walking around the stage, doing moves that the creative team told them to do, instead of just trying to be expressive and tell a story. Eventually, by the end of the day, the kids were finally able to do a run through that was fully energetic and did a performance that looked like it was done by an actual Broadway cast. This proves that the children are fully capable of performing at that professional level, they just need to learn how to control it and maintain it, so that they give the same amount of high energy for every single performance and run-through.

At the end of the day today, the cast did another successful run through. We were thrilled to hear that when we asked what the kids thought of the run-through, they thought that it was fun and that they want to do it again. In the beginning, many students didn't want to be a part of this experience or were very shy and closed-off. When you watch them perform now, you can see the joy and passion radiating from everyone's eyes. The students love it. Therefore, I'm very grateful that this program was able to change these students' lives and I cannot wait to see their performance tomorrow, it's going to be spectacular.

Perspective of a Student - Zoe Cheng

Blog #4- June 24, 2017

It's almost the day, I don't know what to say, I would continue to rhyme, but I have to move on before it gets carried away.

Fresh tears have fallen today and I wish my sibling never finds out.

Don't need extra dirt on me now, don't need extra dirt ever.

Our run through yesterday was amazing, the emotion was there, we are bursting with energy. There was a horrible wonk today morning, then we got back up again. Except it doesn't feel great, knowing you didn't do your best or reach your full potential.

In these ten days, I've learned so much, about myself, musical theatre, about others.

I don't really want this to end. And, as per usual, I want to put on a good shoW. May we break a leg for tomorrow and hopefully touch the hearts of the coldest person in the audience as well.

Also: note to self, crying before a show can help with the performance.

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