Thursday 18th February. 14:15. Departed for Brunei. The adventure had begun…
With much excitement we arrived in Brunei to be greeted by the smiling staff of JIS. A quick bus trip and we arrived at the very impressive Empire Hotel, our home for the next three nights. With students settled in their rooms we headed for our first meal and first meeting with the other 134 students that were taking part in the Drama festival. The Year 10 students were the first to mingle and it wasn’t long before all students had spoken to somebody else. This open and warm attitude remained in place for the remainder of the trip.
The focus of the festival was Shakespeare. This year we recognise the 400 year anniversary of this great playwright’s death and there is no better way of doing this than inspiring young actors to explore his work.
Day 1 – Students are welcomed to the school by Mr Will Kemp, Director of Drama and Festival organiser. He led the group in a warm up and then the day began. The students were put into ‘Companies’ in true Shakespeare style and it is with this company that they spent the rest of the festival. All students took part in four workshops led by Drama teachers from across all the schools involved and then had some ‘Company’ time in which they began to create their final performance. I led a physical theatre workshop and it was wonderful to see the students grow in confidence as they began to explore their physicality and work very closely with each other. As I wandered through JIS’s very impressive arts centre my heart was warmed to see students as young as 11 understanding and enjoying Shakespeare. From the complex and dark Othello to the romantic comedy of Midsummer Night’s Dream the air was full of laughter, discussion and passion for Drama. The day ended with a night hike which was a challenge for us all. The students were excellent and all worked hard to support each other. I did my best to keep my group entertained and my dignity intact after falling down a slope and splitting my trousers.
Day 2 – A welcome assembly and then straight into Companies to start the day’s work. Four more workshops and 2 more hours of Company time and the groups are almost ready for Sunday’s final performance. The British High Commissioner to Brunei David Campbell, visited the festival and spoke to the students. He then spent an hour visiting all the workshops and seeing the students at work. Students, by this point, were fully involved in their Companies and the magic of drama was seen at work. Students who did not know each other 24 hours ago were creating something very special. There was passion for their work in the air and new friendships were being formed. At 16:30 the drama stopped and we headed into Bandar to head out on a boat trip. We were incredibly lucky to see Proboscis monkeys in the wild and it was fantastic to be whizzing along the river with the wind in our hair.
Day 3 – performance day had arrived and there was anticipation in the air. 45 minutes of Company time to start the day and then we all sat down in the auditorium and the performances began. We were treated to eight performances that had to be five minutes long and only include up to 50 words from the chosen Shakespeare play. We watched interpretations of Macbeth, Othello, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and we were all blown away by the standard of the work created. It is a moving experience to see your own students perform in such outstanding work amongst a group of students that they did not know a few days ago. BIS have once again proved their excellence in the Arts and I am proud of every single one of them:
Jae Wan Joo for his focus and commitment to Othello. For his interesting use of voice and his great team work.
Amir Ramzulhakim for his awesome and very intense breathing at the beginning of Othello and for his focus and impressive movement around the stage.
Chloe Brackenbury for her focus and strength of her facial expressions. Her commitment to the creation of a powerful performance of Hamlet.
Sunny Wo for her confidence when dancing at the front of the performance. For her facial expression and commitment to the production of Hamlet.
Ella Zesiger for her sword fighting skills which showed great focus and skill. For her dancing and ability to work in an ensemble to create Hamlet.
Naomi Martin for her beautiful use of body and gesture during Midsummer Night’s Dream and for her commitment and focus throughout the performance.
Angel Doran for wonderful facial expressions, gesture and strength of character during the opening of Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Gary Pham for his commitment to the ensemble work during Midsummer Night’s Dream. For his singing and focused movement during the piece.
John Sykes for his impressive ability to use many different drama skills throughout The Tempest. For his creation of a very atmospheric storm and his focus throughout performance.
Sean Truong for his portrayal of Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream. His confidence and skill in delivering Shakespearean text.
Dab Nguyen for his commitment and huge enjoyment of the movement and dance elements of The Tempest. For his dedication to creating the final performance.
Jonah Weikel for his commitment to producing a truly ensemble performance of Romeo and Juliet. For his physical presence as he moved around the stage and his humour during rehearsal.
Christopher Martin for his focus throughout the engaging performance of Romeo and Juliet including the emblematic lowering of the sword to close the scene. For his commitment to the workshops and rehearsals.
Isabela Paredes for her knowledge of the play and absolute focus during the performance of The Tempest. For her strong physical movement and her commitment to her vocal work.
Nina Pham for her dedication to physical movement and vocal delivery as well as her stunning focus during The Tempest. For her clear enjoyment and engagement throughout the whole festival.
Chloe Roman for her quiet determination and outstanding contribution throughout all aspects of the festival. For her focused movement and vocal skill during the performance of The Tempest.
Maria-Jose Paredes for her established role in Twelfth Night showing poise and control at all times. For her clear commitment to all physical movement and vocal delivery.
Jessica Nghiem for her awesome facial expressions, gesture and high energy throughout Twelfth Night. For her impressive commitment to the comedy of the piece.
Shayla Allen for her dedication to the comedy of the piece and for the stand out line of the performance – ‘perfectiooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon’. For her commitment to movement and gesture.
Bao Tran Dang for her absolute focus and commitment to The Merchant of Venice. For her powerful use of voice and movement to create an incredibly engaging atmosphere.
Lena Chan for her captivating solo opening to The Merchant of Venice. For her beautiful singing and strong physical presence throughout the piece and her involvement in the stunning final image.
Marwin Keeratibunharn for his absolute commitment to the performance of Macbeth. For his precision in movement and for his fearsome final moment when stabbing Macbeth.
Kai Chieh Tseng for his focus and commitment to creating a very strong choral role within Macbeth. For his strong physical movements and his ability to switch the tone of his performance to suit the piece.
Jonah Taylor for his portrayal of Macbeth. For his intense characterisation and powerful use of voice and for creating the incredibly powerful final moment of the piece.
Anne-Marie Astley | Drama Teacher
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