24 Nov, 2015
10 : 00
The school community had eagerly awaited the annual musical extravaganza. With special permission from Disney, Yew Chung International School (YCIS) was the first school outside the US to perform Mulan – Dual Language Edition. YCIS promotes bilingual proficiency, English and Chinese; this production embodied our philosophy. Over 70 performers of various ages came from its Primary and Secondary sections, which included actors, singers, instrumentalists and backstage support.
In December 2014, the YCIS – Secondary IB Theatre Arts Class of 2016 was tasked to create a piece to culminate their module on Chinese/Cantonese Opera. Four Year 13 students (Cissy He, Elijah Liao, Jasmine Harris and Michelle Lau) were assigned to present a performance that not only incorporated Cantonese Opera techniques but also one that would appeal to a young audience. Subsequently, they decided to explore Disney’s Mulan as their stimulus for the project.
Hence, they created a 15-minute workshop performance for Primary students. Many Cantonese Opera skills were incorporated including the use of masks and martial arts. They also experimented with the dual-language approach of English and Chinese since the students’ education lies within a bilingual environment.
The success of this experiment inspired their reaching out to Disney Theatricals, with the hope that a dual-language edition of Mulan may be considered for Disney’s catalogue. A proposal (led by Mr Allan Nazareno, Performing Arts Co-ordinator) was sent in April and within a few weeks, Disney responded favourably, giving permission to proceed under their guidance.
The school then decided to put Mulan on stage as its annual musical production. With the very stringent guidelines imposed by Disney, the four IB Theatre Arts students started to adapt the scripts and lyrics in Chinese. The additional support of the Chinese Department and months of conscientious efforts finally sought approval by Disney for the adapted version to proceed. The script entailed Mandarin, Cantonese, English plus a devised language for the foreign invaders’ roles, using an invented mixed language of Russian, Turkish and Mongolian.
The four IB students noted obstacles along the way, “There were a number of challenges staging this production, including the fundamental issue of a seamless multiple language story. The audience needed to sense that, regardless of language in use, there was comprehension between them.”
Three shows were performed between November 12 and 14. A solid audience of over 1,000 people enjoyed the performances across the three days.
“I loved being part of my school’s annual production; everyone was so dedicated and took it quite seriously, but at the same time it was a lot of fun”, said one Year 6 student, Minnie Davis.
“The show was gorgeous and I really think the cast and crew were excellent. It was pulled off so well and I found the dual-language edition smoothly delivered. Bravo!” noted a member of the audience Sandy Ng.
The YCIS community, which is immersed in a bilingual learning environment, put the “East meets West” magic in the show, as per its diverse and internationally minded school curriculum and ethos.