The Performance of Jitters on Open Day


Third-year students of the English Language and Literature Department in Shue Yan University perform a play every year at the University Open Day. This year, students honoured the tradition while making a breakthrough by performing a modern drama.

Classical plays, especially those of the early and later twentieth century, such as The Importance of Being Earnest, presented last year, have usually been selected for performance in previous years. This year, Miss Maria Chan, Assistant Professor in the English Department, who is in charge of the performance, chose Jitters, written by a well-known Canadian playwright, David French, as the playbill. Students participating in the performance were divided into two groups, and were responsible for the morning and the afternoon sessions respectively.

Three hundred of the 1,400 visitors coming to the Shue Yan campus on Open Day, 3 November 2012 attended the shows and this gave great encouragement to the performers.

Miss Maria Chan explained that Jitters was about the interesting events and the performance anxiety of the actors, actresses and the director during rehearsals for a play, and about their response to the reviews of their first Night performance. “After the performance, the views of the drama critics towards a play can be positive or negative. And this can affect the whole production team.”

Henry Lin, one of the actors in the play, said that Jitters was trying to deliver the message that “Life is a play”. Some characters in the play might perform perfectly, but it was not the same in reality as everyone had a weakness. He hoped that the audiences could pay attention to the imperfections of each character in Jitters and gain an inspiration from it. For instance, the character, Patrick is an alcoholic and Phil is very neurotic.

Time was very tight to mount the performances. Two drama crews finished writing the script at the end of September and the performers’ list was confirmed. Then they began rehearsals at the beginning of October. Each crew consisted of about 35 members, including the performers, students responsible for the stage settings and the props, the costume design and so forth. Finding an appropriate time for rehearsal was a problem to all the members.

Apart from insufficient preparation time, the drama crews also encountered the problem of the lack of rehearsal space. Due to the frequent bookings of Lady Lily Shaw Hall by other departments, it was difficult for the crews to book times which suited all members’ needs. This limited the number of rehearsals.

In spite of the obstacles confronted during the rehearsal, Vicki Lam, one of the actresses, commented that she was glad to have an opportunity to practice with her classmates in university. “Perhaps we are only classmates, but we have developed a mutual understanding through working together on this project. And this helps to build up a precious friendship among classmates.”

Miss Chan said that the Vice President and Principal, Dr. Chung Chi Yung, the Head of the Department, Professor Wong Kin Yuen, teaching staff and graduates of the Department saw the show. She also noted that students have learnt how to apply the knowledge of the dramas they had watched before to produce a show. The whole team has gained something from this experience. She was very pleased with the performance.

Utt Ng, another of the actresses, stated that though there were minor mistakes during the performance, professional drama crews would also have these problems. She thought that the overall performance was smooth and the number of people in the audience was greater than expected. Besides, the audiences reacted more enthusiastically than she had thought.

Another actor, Samuel Leung, said that whether performing on-stage or working behind the scenes, they all did a great job. Despite the unexpected incidents such as the performers forgetting their lines, they dealt with it in a smart way. The feedback from the audiences showed that it was an enjoyable play and therefore he was satisfied with the show.

Source: November Issue 2012

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