Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth, Act V, Scene v
Pathways World School grade6 students started on a unique cross-curricular project which spanned three subjects: Math, Drama and PULSE. The topic was Bullying, and the scope was immense.
Students explored the topic through surveys which they studied from the statistical viewpoint (Math), as well as researched the various types of bullying that could possibly exist (PULSE). Finally, through Drama, they expressed what they felt about everything they had learnt. Grade 6x created a play called Nobody Understands Me, which explored the motivations of a bully—the story of a boy who is disturbed due to his parents’ fights.
Grade 6y explored the different forms of bullying and wondered about its effect on victims and its consequences in the play called Bullyce Academy. And Grade 6z elevated the exploration of the topic to not only bullying in the world of adults but bullying as it exists in the international arena in its play which they chose to call Undercover Terror. The scope and depth of these three plays were impressive. These were not “full of sound and fury signifying nothing”. They brought to life an issue that affects young and old alike. The plays sought to make the audience aware of how bullying exists in every walk of life, for the young and the old, and how organized bullying goes by the name of “international terror” in our world today.
The Drama Department proposed to combine the three plays and create a production for this year’s Founder’s Weekend. With the support of the management, since these were uncharted waters, a plan was worked out in which the students of Grades 7 and 8 would expand the roles and create a role for each and every student of the two grades.
It may have been simpler to write a play and have the children perform it. It would have been even simpler to have selected a play from the world’s repertoire and directed it. However, what this year’s production achieved is quite unique—every storyline, every thought and most of the lines in the play came from the students of the current Grades 7 and 8. It has been a far greater challenge to put together a play that includes (possibly) everything that the children want to say. For, the PWS Drama Department deeply believes that “living” drama is that which comes out of those who act in it. It is an expression of beliefs, of emotions—a message straight from the soul.
The current Grade 8 students rose admirably to the occasion when the concept of this play was introduced to them in August. They added new characters and plot-lines to the existing ones, and gave many creative suggestions on how everything could be spun together into an exciting play. Most importantly, they brought in the element of comedy, and many a drama lesson left the AV Room echoing with our laughter.
The music department pulled its weight and created beautiful music—it must have been a challenge to set tunes to the lyrics written by the children. They spent two days in a recording studio, and when we heard the tracks for the first time, we were delighted – the play really was coming together. The brave dance department then swung, quite literally, into action to give physical expression to all the emotions contained in the songs.
Undercover! is not likely to go down in the annals of theatre history as an exceptional piece of theatre. Indeed, we were still editing it and making it tighter on the morning of the show. However, in the minds and hearts of about a hundred and twenty students, it will live forever as one amazingly authentic experience of creating their own theatre. Other than the children, the play left an impact on the minds of members of the audience – parents who later called to share their appreciation of the changes they had observed in their children… changes that ranged from newfound empathy for victims of bullying to brand new levels of confidence in a performance situation.
Drama is not just about putting up a good show – of course, it must have entertainment value. But perhaps much more important is its power to transform those who participate in it. From this point of view, we can say that we definitely met all our learning objectives.