The latest batch of Drama Club kids have taken the reins. Their first official performance was a short skit for Racial Harmony Day. They had only one week to script, rehearse and polish, but they were all gung-ho go-for-it. We seldom see this kind of enthusiasm, so we let them run with it.
First rehearsal, we had a basic outline. The characters were caricatures of our national ethnic stereotypes, the plot was thin, the resolution fuzzy at best. Definitely still needed a lot of work before it could be ready for show.
During rehearsal, my biggest worry was that the stereotypes would stand out stronger than the theme we had been commissioned to convey. True enough (as I hear from the grapevine), the kids played it for laughs, going over-the-top with their characters -- Chinese boy in particular -- resulting in a greatly mixed reaction from the audience. The kids in the audience seemed somewhat tickled, but the staff were aghast by the colour of the language used onstage, the resolution was still vague and inconclusive.
Great learning opportunity for our little aspiring artists: improv is fantastic for rehearsals because it always adds new dimensions to the development of a scene, character or plot; but there is no place for ad libbing during the performance of a commissioned piece.
Like it or not, the sponsor does not care for artistic licence or pointless, raucous comedy. The sponsor wants a specific message to get through to the audience, that's all. At least, don't do anything to embarrass the sponsor by association. Fail to deliver and face the curtailment of funding or even a lawsuit. We're lucky such consequences are not looking for us as a result of this performance.
Again, from what I hear, the audience did learn something from our performance: Chinese boy's ad libbed expletive-laden phraseology. Which wasn't exceptionally vulgar, but still, not the kind of language to use in polite company.
Sigh. They've only just started ,and already so much damage we need to get under control.