Aashna Aggarwal (India, UWCSEA 10-12)
Last year, UWCSEA started what is known as the Theatre Sports Festival. It’s basically an improvisation competition with teams playing different games that require quick thinking and sharp wit. Being a theatre student myself, I was delighted that such events existed and attended both nights of the festival. What I then saw was simply amazing. Each and every participant had the courage to stand up on stage and make complete fools of themselves. The teacher who organized it too danced like it was her senior prom all over again. Along with all the good things about festival, it did have a few flaws owing to its inexperience.
Looking at the whole event, the best part was the involvement of the audience. Every audience member felt like they were a part of what was going on. For every game, every challenge and every task, the audience was asked to provide something; maybe a situation or an emotion, or even an object. The task of the participants was then to incorporate our input into whatever they were doing. For example, the UWCSEA team was going to play a game where one character only uses the words, “yes”, “no” or “I don’t know”. The audience had to give them a location and I suggested fish market. The result was a young girl crying to her fish-selling mother about her father being struck by lightning, all while a bewildered customer looks on. The variety of games enriched the event as a whole. There wasn’t a second you would be bored. One could also see the relationships that had blossomed between the four teams. They came to each others’ help when needed, clapped for each other and had a true sportsmanship spirit. There was a team all the way from Finland, whose English was weak so members from rival teams would step in whenever needed. The points that were then awarded still went to the Finnish team.
Although faults did exist: two of the teams, the Finnish and local Singaporean ones didn’t have the best English but were favored by the judges. The favoritism was blatant. I felt it was unfair as the whole point of a competition is to let the best man win. And yes, the non-native speakers of English had a disadvantage, but they were aware of that before entering the festival. The winners turned out to be the Finnish team. I cannot deny that they were bursting with talent but the team from the Australian international team was better. The fact that an attempt was made to equalize everyone’s chances is commendable ,but it decreases the integrity of the title. Only four teams took part, although this is not a criticism, the festival in saying so because it’s still fundamentally new. Next year if more teams are invited, it would provide a range of styles, thus students could learn much more.
All in all, Theater Sports festival was a positive step towards adding diversity to our already multi-faceted school and I look forward to attending it next year.
-United World College Student Magazine-