Thursday, 13 February 2014 14:14

Maybe this Time: The Students’ Musical Revue

Before winter set in here in Kyiv, Ukraine, Pechersk School International’s Drama department students presented Maybe This Time, a musical revue.

What made the performance like no other was the student-led effort. Students wrote, directed, choreographed, managed, and performed the musical.

Maybe this Time was an original piece written and directed by a Grade 10 student Camila Grimaldi. She was able to use this revue for her MYP Personal Project (Camila’s Process Journal - http://camilagrimaldi-personalproject.blogspot.com/). Camila began with the idea of writing a novel or directing a short film, but after some inspiration from two Broadway plays, Camila spent two weeks during the summer to write and design the entire play.  After completing the first draft, it was reviewed by the principal and drama teacher, then accepted as the fall performance.

The excitement began as students started lining up to audition and participate. As the cast was set, practice took over and we could all hear music and dance coming from the Drama Room late into the winter night. Even outside of class, we could hear the buzz. Students in DT workshop were singing while they worked on CAS projects. The choreography was coming together, with Camila’s sister, Micaela Grimaldi leading that process, and the student stage managers were keeping people in place. As the opening night drew closer, people were talking about the performance and all the work that was being put into it. Quickly, tickets were sold out and then finally opening night arrived. In a small theatre in Kyiv, the show began.

At the performance, the audience could see the focus and drive that the students radiated on stage. Everyone delivered their lines with a pride that they had created this project. The cast contributions from start to finish of Maybe This Time are what made it such a success.

Allowing students increased ownership and responsibility for the project provoked stronger participation and commitment. The engagement from the students demonstrated their passion and pride.   

I had the pleasure of being at the Friday evening show. After this performance,  PSI Director John Burns spoke of encouragement and praise for the writer, cast, and crew as the energy behind the production. Congratulations were also given to Camila and her immediate response was to cry and hug the cast and crew. It was a moment where we could all see the emotion through the tears and the pride of students who had achieved something special. They received a standing ovation, a well-deserved accolade for their hard work and efforts to bring enjoyment to the audience of peers, parents, and staff. It was their performance, a truly student centred and student led musical revue.

Praise for Maybe This Time:

The Secondary Principal said, “From the first draft I read to the final curtain call this weekend, [Camila] has led you all through a truly unique experience. Not many high school kids can say that they were part of an original musical production, and never - and I mean never - have I known a high school student who could have pulled something like this off. I am in awe.”

The Physics teacher also wrote to Camila saying, “That was without doubt the best school drama / music performance I have ever seen at any school.  If tickets were still available for tomorrow night I would buy another one.”

The HS Counselor wrote to Camila saying “I just wanted to reiterate how fantastic the show was tonight!  The writing was clever, the song choice was spot on and more importantly the cast looked like they were having fun.”

In a survey that Camila created for her personal project people said, “

  • I enjoyed the clever and witty dialogue and the funny and creative characters. The song's were all really good and it was seriously entertaining.
  • How all the actors got along so well and that you could also see that on the stage. Also, how all the group worked together to make it the best that it could be.
  • I really enjoyed seeing everyone who I see at school every day in a different role (risk-taking for many). I enjoyed learning that many people can sing, and even though some couldn't sing well, they tried. I liked the dancing as well. The plot was very relatable for high school and middle school students.
  • In a small space with small possibilities, you made something with a perfect place and stage setting.
  • The humor was fantastic, but it was the intelligence behind combining this with a deeper meaning, that made it so successful and thought provoking.
  • It was very cleverly written - I thought the way that the story developed was simple but that was what was so clever about it. I was always wondering what was going to happen to the characters and their relationships next. The ending where everyone was friends and realised that they were not so different was also a part that I enjoyed as I think I could relate to that from my own time in school.
  • Everyone got to play a part and have their moment in the spotlight, everyone had a duo or solo at singing and it gave everyone a chance. The play is about teenagers our age and obviously it is exaggerated, but it generally represents the division we teenagers create.

The Casts’ Comments:

Marcin (Pippin) What have you discovered about yourself during the process? I would never imagine myself performing, singing or dancing in public.

Sofia (Cora) Were you nervous about playing? What were some of the challenges that you came across?
I got nervous when it was my time to go on stage and see the audience, but I had very good friends backstage to encourage me and give me the motivation that everything was going to go well.

Oliver (Winston)  What have you discovered about yourself during the process?
I love performing.

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By Jacob Ortwein