Shining under the floodlights

  • Education
  • Sunday, 31 Aug 2003

ALL the world’s a stage – as such drama and music play a significant part in the life of school students, especially in the old days.  

Plays, concerts and choir recitals are activities that schools committed to the all-round growth of their students have always encouraged. They give young people a chance to show off their talents and skills, be it as the lead performer on stage or the no less essential prop maker behind the scenes. 

SPIRITED SHAKESPEARE: Thespians from the Malayan Teacher Training College, Kota Baru, stage 'Othello' in local costume.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, many leading mission and government schools would stage a big production every year, usually a musical. Sometimes the quality was so good that tickets were even sold to the public. 

These shows were often great fun to put together, with students, teachers and even parents pitching in to make or source props and costumes.  

Most times, the efforts were short on budgets but long on ingenuity. And in the leaner days of yore, finding the funds to get a production off the ground could be as much a challenge as getting the students to master their lines and the dance steps. 

Major productions aside, there were also the more informal variety shows. Here, each of the classes would come with its own item – a skit, a song, a dance or even a little fashion display – and the entire student body then gathered in the school hall for a jolly good time. 

Mores have changed, however, and many aspects of past performances such as funky music and dancing might be considered inappropriate in some schools today. 

Also the pressures of a packed schedule mean that many students (and their parents) are unwilling to sacrifice time for extra-curricular activities that bring no “points” and “distract” them from studying for exams. 

This is a shame as nothing matches the exhilaration of being on stage and the satisfaction of knowing that it is a job well done when the curtain comes down to the sound of loud applause. 

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