This year, my children’s highly CONSERVATIVE school surprised the entire community by announcing they will stage the officially licensed theater adaptation of Disney’s Mulan for its 60th Anniversary.
The play was to be a student driven play with an all-student cast, student directors, student stage crews, and student props managers. The school hired professional directors Allan Nazareno and Rudy Aviles and a lights and sound guy to help the kids, with a handful of teachers who will oversee the project. It was a huge project for a school that’s doing this for the first time.
I told my kids they could try auditioning because who knows when this chance will come by again. They signed up to audition and they went to school on a Saturday to try their luck.
My husband and I were in Hong Kong for our anniversary that week so they were on their own.
Apparently some parents accompanied their children to their auditions and they told me the auditions were extremely professional. They were given numbers and they had to wait to be called after which they had to take what would have been, to me, a terrifying walk on stage and perform on cue. My friend described it as nerve-wracking.
My kids didn’t prepare anything. My son had to borrow his friend’s prepared speech. My daughter did her own thing on the fly.
Just the fact that they auditioned makes me extremely proud of them. I KNOW I wouldn’t have had the guts to do what they did. That took a lot of courage and self-confidence.
Hundreds of kids tried out. Unfortunately we had a small stage in the auditorium and there were only parts for a select few. After a couple of more series of auditions, the cast was finally chosen.
My daughter didn’t make it and she took the rejection with grace and self-assured confidence that it isn’t a personal rejection. That, in itself, was an invaluable experience.
It was lucky, though, that my son was given a role as a part of a soldier with 1 line. He was ecstatic.
Then the practices began. On his own, he would advise me what time he would come home during his lunch hour and he would wake up by himself on Saturdays to make it to his call time. All of a sudden, he was telling me his schedule instead of me telling him. He was maturing in front of my eyes.
However, for a 9-year-old, it was TIRING. He had to attend practices on some school days after class for an hour or so, then come home and prepare for the following school day. On some weeks, they had to go to school during Saturdays for practice. Teachers still expected the same educational output from the cast and crew, no exemptions, which is a testament to the school’s dedication to education. For this, I salute the administrators.
Since I was the one tutoring him, I paced his studies to make sure he had time to rest everyday. It was a struggle for him in between classes, piano lessons, and basketball.
He said practices were a lot of fun but he was beginning to wonder out loud if it was worth it since it’s taking a lot of his free time.
The dates of the play showing loomed. The school refused to FORCE the children to watch the play so we were worried that the tickets will have a low attendance since tickets were selling slowly in the beginning.
The cast had a critic’s night and the director showed how much he trusted and believed in the children by inviting Cebu’s professional directors, musical directors, and professional actors to critique the performance.
They forgot the cast AND crew were composed of kids. The children BLEW them away. They made the entire school proud.
Word got around and tickets started to sell quickly, with a sold out crowd in the last day of shows. People from other schools, and even people without kids, were clamoring to buy tickets. Until now there are people requesting for a re-staging of the show. There is even a request to bring the show to Manila.
The success of this play is a testament to what children can do if you let them try with the right guidance.
Academics isn’t the ONLY way kids can learn and grow. Through this experience, the children blossomed. Some members of the cast and crew weren’t that good with academics but this experience has allowed them to bloom. Talent came out in unusual places. Some children teachers thought were shy exploded on stage.
The teachers I spoke to mentioned it was a beautiful thing to see.
On a personal note, my son told me that this was the best experience he has had in school and he is so happy he didn’t give up on it when it was getting tough. He had a lot of fun, made a lot of new friends and learned a lot of new things. On top of that, I could see his face light up with the thrill of the achievement. For me, this has taught him a valuable thing that no amount of money or school work can teach. It’s the value of self-imposed hard work and perseverance.
The achievement of doing something on his own was priceless.
My daughter was always more focused, assertive and aggressive than my son. She joins organizations on her own volition and often takes on more responsibilities in her school projects. My son was always more low key. However, his experience with Mulan showed me grit comes in many forms.
I’ve always believed that our role as parents and educators is to prepare children for the next stage in life. Education is obviously one such way because it provides the foundation on which our children can build their futures. Inadvertedly, however, the school showed me there are more ways than getting excellent grades to do so. Extra-curriculars such as these, are just as important.
Words can’t express how thankful I am that the school did this project. I can only hope and pray that they will continue to do so on a regular, if not yearly basis, and perhaps, allow more students to be involved, because the experience truly is an unbelievable gift.