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Wednesday, 16 May 2018 13:49

International School of Prague Student Led Theatre Production: #Relevance, #Curiosity, #Community

On May 2 and 3, a fearless and talented group of Upper School Students from the International School of Prague presented (ISP’s first ever - we think) 100% student led, directed and designed school play.

Their two performances of The 39 Steps received great acclaim, not only because it was a well put together show, but because the audience was amazed that “a group of kids” was capable of pulling something like this off with little to no adult assistance. These students are shining examples of what we aspire to at ISP: Student Leadership, Student Voice and Choice and Autonomous Real Life tasks. 

In their own words: 

I directed The 39 Steps out of nowhere. I was selected by a group of my former castmates to ask our teacher whether she would consider directing the Spring Play. She said she would try but would need my assistance and a really dedicated cast as she was already committed to other projects.  My occasional assistance turned in permanent directing, something I was not prepared to do but something that taught me a lot of things. My first rehearsal as a director was very awkward and made me realise the hierarchy established in the school where the teacher was seen as the authority.

Through time, experience, and perseverance, I slowly gained the trust of the students and began to believe in myself.  After a few rehearsals without our teacher, the company began to realise that if we wanted a play, we could not wait for an adult to help us - we needed to do it ourselves. We made our own schedule, we rehearsed in four different venues of varying in sizes and locations, we gathered props and costumes from our inventory and our homes. We recruited friends to come and help out after school. We had no access to tech until two days before the opening night and out technicians learned how to use the equipment at the same time as designing the show.

This was not an ideal situation. But ultimately, the company’s commitment to doing it ourselves kept our spirits high and we overcame all of our obstacles. The audience came and we received lots of applause, but the smiles on the company’s faces after our closing night is what I will never forget. The joy of having put together a one-hundred percent student led show - that people actually liked - was immense!

Dimitri Maksimovic: Director - ISP Class of 2019

Being a part of the first (in known history) student led, directed and performed production at ISP was incredible but also very challenging. As a stage manager, I tried to help the director to my best abilities with the logistics of the play and the communication with everyone in the production. During this process, I have learned to be flexible in terms of the job I think I am going to do and the actual job that needs to be done.

I thought I was going to be Stage Manager - but we also needed a sound technician and that job fell to me. The nerves were all worth it as now I'm much more comfortable with taking risks and I realise that we all need to pitch in to make sure the show goes on. As one of our school’s ISP missions is to EMPOWER learners, I think that this experience truly reflects the mission as we as a production company worked together creatively not only as a team but also as a family.

Ymy Hoang Nhu: Stage Manager - ISP Class of 2019

It is only a few times in life, that we learn important skills for life. When I first thought about auditioning for the spring play, I had fairly average and usual expectations. At first I thought of the normal: It will be fun and I will have a good time. Luckily, I was wrong. During the two months experience we all learnt very important skills for life. Since the project was a student organised play, all of the cast and crew had to be independent and responsible.

We had to be involved in every single step which included rehearsals, costume/prop gathering, set building, publicity and of course, the final performance. Another very important skill I learned is leadership. Each of us became leaders during this project and we had to take initiative. Leadership was not only important for coming to rehearsals, but for stepping in for other people that were missing and supporting the group when needed. Lastly, I improved my skills in working as a group and not as an individual. A group of individuals could not have accomplished what we did, but an ensemble could.

Anna Krskova: Actor - ISP Class of 2021

Written by: Vicki Close, Dimitri Maksimovic, Ymy Hoang Nhu and Anna Krskova
Photos: Vicki Close and Tony McLaughlin