Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Macau’s youth explore the IDEA of drama education

Posted by Kimberly on July 18, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
July 18, 2007, page 6 (1,199 words)

A group of Macau’s talented young headed off to Hong Kong today to participate in the 6th IDEA World Congress.
The Congress is being held in Asia for the first time, creating a convergence of the world’s educators, theatre workers, teachers, social and community workers with local counterparts.
Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, listen to keynote speakers, keyhole and paper presentations, special interest groups and the best theatre from around the world.
IDEA (the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association) brings in members from 90 countries unified by three broad goals; to advocate drama education as part of a full education, to promote international dialogue within drama education and to support the practice of drama and education to achieve human rights and peace throughout the world.
IDEA was made a consultative body of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in recognition for its major contribution to world peace.
Between July 4 and 15, IIUM, in collaboration with MACWAC Productions, who have been active in Macau for about two years, held a Young Creative Voices (YCV) International Youth Drama Festival, culminating last Saturday with a public performance, which MACWAC’s Artistic Director, Chad Leslie described as “little bits and pieces of things that had been developed, some of them very personal pieces, some large, philosophical ideas.”
The aim of the program was to allow young people to share and, in part, teach the local community to help build a better world community.
Saturday’s 40-minute performance was the world première of YCV’s four-continent collaboration proposal for IDEA 2008-09.
To explain, the concept, Mr Leslie offered an explanation of what was performed.
“The work last week dealt with [the theme] crossing boundaries.
“We explored any kind of boundaries you might imagine, like in work or society, in politics, in science and technology. In our case, bringing together different cultures.
“We’re talking about cultural boundaries like language and communication boundaries, that sort of thing. One thing we don’t want to do with young people is leave a problem.
“What we’re looking for is what are solutions? Boundaries…are things we can cross over, so what are the solutions?” he said.
The group dealt with that through visualisation, dance and music.
“We had, I would say, hundreds of little art pieces and skit pieces that we would present to each other, whether they were verbal or non-verbal.
“We would work on those ideas together, analysing them, considering them, trying to ask what does this mean, seeing through each other’s eyes and then taking what’s important to us out of that and applying to a performance that we can present to the public.
“And that was the result from Saturday,” he said.
One exercise the group worked on was “where after a series of exercise we took images of the quietest person in our family and the assignment was to create two gestures that represented the duality that was in their lives.
“We paired into groups of four and we shared these with each other and without using our languages, we had to work together to use everyone’s gestures within the performance piece,” he said.
The production company has been in talks with several key people in Macau to create a three-year program that will deal with the four-continents theme.
“We’ll be taking four countries within those continents, all ex-Portuguese colonies and bring together youth groups, facilitators and explore ideas of de-colonisation.
“Beginning in the first year working on memory, in the second year on transitions and hand-overs and the third year working on transformations.
“So we’re at the beginning of the process, so we’re starting to project into next year,” he said.
Asked why she had chosen to participate in the group, Kathy Lam, an 18-year-old student said, “I thought that it would be an interesting project and it is a challenge for me and I get to try new things.”
Her strongest concern was “my language skills” which she said was “the only concern that I had, that i would not be able to communicate with others with my Chinese.”
She considered the performance on Saturday to be “a special experience” because “it was the first time I did something like that.
“I think I have learnt a lot from it. I felt really good from the process until the end,” she said, adding that again, the language was a barrier and “it felt a little bit difficult to communicate with them [the other participants].
“Sometimes I would have liked to communicate with others and tell them more about myself but because of the language difference it makes it hard,” she said.
Ines Kuam, a 20-year-old student who also collaborated at the YCV festival and is part of the group in Hong Kong, said of last week’s performance, “I think it was really great.
“Of course it was not a very mature performance but then it is a work in progress for me. It’s the fruit of our collaboration, of the whole process.
“It’s the development of what we have explored. It’s something very personal that we can share with the audience,” he said.
His reasons for agreeing to travel to Hong Kong for the Congress was a simple statement of “I’m interested in everything! I’m a greedy person and if I have the chance, I’d really like to grab everything I can within the time.”
Miss Lam chose to attend the Congress because she was “really curious about what I’m going to see and experience.”
She added that, “I don’t know if I’m going to face any difficulties, but I’m excited to know whom I’m going to meet.”
Both students have agreed that they’ve come away from the program last week having gained valuable skills.
“I know more about myself. Some things I never thought that I could do, now I know that I can do them. It has let me realise more about my status in society.
“I’ve gained more confidence especially in dealing with people,” said Miss Lam.
Mr Kuam believed he had “learnt to ask questions which is actually really important.
“Because I always keep things to myself, through these ten days I’ve learnt to voice out what I really think and to be open to suggestion,” he said.
An example of a topic that will be explored at the Congress is “the situation of film education in the Guangdong area, Hong Kong and Macau, what has been done, what still has to be achieved and how to achieve it,” said Mr Victor Garnier, Producer within MACWAC Productions.
He adds that, by choosing to attend, young people have the chance to learn about ideas and see people who develop in the same kind of work that the group have been doing the past week.
They will also “be able to get involved in discussions, be able to listen to what’s being discussed and get in touch with performers from all over the world,” he said.
The Congress will therefore be an experience for those wishing to learn more about how drama and theatre education around the world is used to facilitate peace, as well as bring attention to elements within these aspects of education.

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