By Ms Tiffany Wong

On November 17 and November 18, 35 Middle School students presented this year’s Middle School play production, “Belonging”, at the HTS Senior School Drama Room (Black Box Studio). Sharing what the students have accomplished on their journey of learning and growing together in front of 100 audience members over four shows, the play was a thoughtful compilation of short stories showcasing different people in the community and what it means to truly belong.

At HTS, we believe that students should have the flexibility and freedom to develop their unique strengths and curiosities. The entire play production was student-driven, with students taking an active role in the learning process alongside Mr. Edward Daranyi, Ms Lisa West,Ms Mei Wong, Ms Carol Anne Calderone, and Mr. Andy Whitebread. Throughout over 47 hours of intensive rehearsing (a typical production rehearses for 110 hours), these Grade 6 to 8 students had the opportunity to each take part in different roles within the production, including stage and lighting management, front of house, backstage crew members, and cast.

Two students acting on the stage, both facing to the right.

April G. (right)

April G. (pictured on the right), Grade 7 student and ensemble cast member in the production, shared that she has learned how to be a better actor, making independent decisions and not be afraid of making mistakes — to pick herself up after missteps and keep on going when there are challenges. April also treasured the times she spent with other student cast and crew members during after school rehearsals, as she enjoyed the opportunity to connect with others while having a fun time as a community. Seeing all the parents entering the theatre before the performance began also brought April excitement and joy, and a memorable experience that she won’t forget.

Ms Lisa West (left) and Kate S. smiling while standing with two laptops in front of them.

Ms Lisa West (left) and Kate S.

Kate S. (pictured on the right), Grade 7 student and stage manager in the production, took on the challenging role of calling cues for the play. She was excited to learn how to put on a professional production using various industry standard softwares and controls, which gave her a practical and authentic real world experience. As a stage manager, Kate also grasped the importance of collaboration and communication between fellow cast and crew members, especially when she had to multitask and take the lead calling all technical cues and transitions during the play. During rehearsal breaks, Kate enjoyed getting boba with the cast.

About HTS’s Drama Program

At HTS, curiosity is central to the work that we do. Part of the Department of Integrated Arts, our drama program provides a menu of opportunities for students to discover and go on a learning journey to immerse themselves in different interests and ways of exploring who they are now and who they want to become.

Two students acting on the stage with a LED screened behind them, the backdrop displayed a night sky with a moon.

LED screen used as a production backdrop in the Senior School Drama Room (Black Box Studio).

Our Incredible Space

The Senior School Drama Room (Black Box Studio) is a wonderful new space to bring parents, teachers and students together as a community. Beyond just teaching in a classroom, students have full access to gain hands-on experience on how to run various lighting consoles and sound systems used in the professional industry. The facility includes a user-friendly full LED lighting system and a 18-foot LED screen which also serves as a production backdrop where images can be projected for different scenes.

A student actor sitting at the front of the circular stage surrounded by audience members, 6 chairs were placed on the stage.

Theatre-in-the-round Setup in the Senior School Drama Room (Black Box Studio).

Our Focus on Community

At HTS, we always think about how we can use our spaces creatively to bring our community together. For the Middle School Play production, Mr. Edward Daranyi went for a theatre-in-the-round setup. With this intimate setting, our students were able to demonstrate courage, one of the four core moral values of the HTS Character Creed, when performing in close proximity with the audience. With the parents surrounding the stage and in direct view of each other, the audience were able to see each other’s responses and feel each other’s emotions, to fully experience theatre as a collaborative art form.

Our focus on community can also be found in the theme that we chose for the production. In the Middle School Play “Belonging”, the pieces that were selected to be performed were monologues and scenes from a variety of different shows, with some pieces written by students who were of middle school age that reflect the opportunities, challenges and changes faced during that particular life stage. Middle School is pivotal and important time in an adolescent life, and Mr. Edward Diranyi curated pieces that spoke to not just students, but also our strategic vision of belonging — what does it mean to be better together as a community, one of the HTS central elements of what we as an organization strive to be.

It takes a community to run a successful play production. Congratulations to all student cast and crew members, and teachers for the excellent production of “Belonging”. To our parents and audiences, thank you all once again for joining us and showing your support, we look forward to seeing our Middle School students grow and shine in their next performance.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ellul