From May 30th to June 1st, Keystone’s Department of Performing Arts produced a magnificent modern rendition of William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep,” wrote Shakespeare in The Tempest. Performed on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre in a theatre-in-the-round style, the audience was transported to a magical realm - an island of dreams where spirits and magic occupied the minds and lives of all, where two young people from different worlds fell madly in love, and where reality was not quite as it seemed.
The production, Directed by Drama Teacher Michel Ouimet, spanned the course of the entire academic year and challenged students to make a deep and long-term commitment to the art of theatre. “As a new model that we wanted to experiment with, we invited two separate groups of high school students to join us for a Drama KAP. From August to December, the first group of students delved into a literary analysis of The Tempest as they would do in an English Literature Class. The second group of students learned about the art of directing plays,” said Mr. Ouimet. “Students learned about set design, creating the appropriate environment for the audience, and really examined plays from a directorial perspective. When both groups of students came together to create the cast for the play in February, we were fully prepared to take the production to the highest quality and next level at Keystone.”
Students embodied deep and global learning in preparation for the theatre production, showcasing all that they have learned across multiple academic disciplines and putting it into practice for audiences during their performances. Over the course of several months, students devoted their time to the theatre production, learning and analyzing Shakespearean text and language with skills gained from Language Arts Classes, using their knowledge of reading history from Chinese and World Civilizations Classes to deeply understand the historical and cultural significance of the play and William Shakespeare’s life and work, and learning to link elements of the visual and Performing Arts in order to challenge their artistic abilities and fully embody their characters in the play.
For Grade 10 student Kate Lei, who played the character, Antonio, stepping out of her comfort zone was one of the highlights of her learning experience as an actress in the theatre production. “I felt myself really becoming this character in real life throughout the year. I slowly began to capture the characteristics of Antonio. Every time I glanced towards a person or an object, or every time I smiled, I really felt that I was Antonio. I never felt that I was in character every minute of my life in other productions that I participated in, and when I was on the stage I became even more alive,” said Kate. “The Tempest gave me the confidence to engage with theatre in ways that I never previously considered. For the next academic year, I would like to be more involved with Chinese and English theatre at Keystone. Even though I am not choosing to pursue Theatre for the IB Diploma Programme next year, I plan to continue to be actively involved in this world.”
As Keystone continues to explore and expand the minds of students in the Performing Arts, Mr. Ouimet, incoming Director of the Performing Arts Centre, has high hopes for the quality and community engagement in future theatre productions. “As an educator, I want our community to understand the creative and educational possibilities in the Performing Arts and the ways that our program can reflect Keystone’s values. I’m looking forward to more student ownership in their education and our theatre productions, and instilling in the Performing Arts Centre a renewed vigor for taking the performing arts into Beijing.”