Body language

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am

Students at the Lutheran School For The Deaf will stage a performance of two fairy tales - The Emperor's New Clothes and Three Little Pigs - tonight. In preparation for the performance, they took part in a three-week workshop.

The three-week workshop was conducted by visual theatre veterans Luis Aguilar and Tami Santimyer of the American deaf theatre group Quest.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. For many of them, it was their first encounter with foreigners.

'It was the first time that I had interacted with people from overseas,' said Natalie Wong Yin-kwan, 15.

'Communicating with them was really interesting.'

Communication was through sign language, and although sign language varies from country to country, the students and their two guests soon established a common language of gestures.

'By the end of the three weeks, everyone looked very happy,' said Aguilar.

'I saw them growing by the day, gaining confidence and becoming more expressive.

That was deeply satisfying for me.'

Aguilar and Santimyer are in Hong Kong to perform their internationally acclaimed mime show Mosaic and to conduct theatre workshops for the disabled.

The two actors and other members of the Quest theatre group are touring different countries to get hearing-impaired children involved in mime and drama as a means of self-expression.

'We aim to help people express their emotions through the use of visual drama,' Santimyer said.

'We use a range of methods, such as play acting, games, tableaux, body language, facial expression and written communication.'

One of the teachers, Ms Ho, said she was impressed by the students' enthusiasm for the workshop.

'I've never seen them this motivated before,' the teacher said.

'They even stayed after the workshops to rehearse. It was nice to see them enjoying themselves.'

Nelson Ng Hin-yu, one of the young actors, said the workshop was an eye-opening experience.

'I didn't realise there were so many ways you could act in a drama,' he said.

'We learned a lot about theatre and about staging shows. Even the smallest things, like a piece of rag, can play an important part in a drama. The workshop has opened a new door to theatre for us.'

Aguilar and Santimyer said they were impressed by the Hong Kong students.

'They are energetic and very enthusiastic,' they said.

Drama performances are nothing new to the students of the Lutheran School For The Deaf. In fact, theatre is a popular extra-curricular activity with the students.

The school's drama group is regularly invited to perform at other schools and various institutions.

'The public response to the school's drama efforts has been good,' said principal Chan Kwok-kuen.

'And this kind of activity helps students build up confidence. They learn new ways to express themselves.

'Some of our students continue to keep up their interest in theatre after leaving school.

'A few have joined the internationally known Theatre of the Silence, a Hong Kong-based group for the hearing impaired.'

However, the principal is well aware of how hard it is for the school's students to integrate into mainstream society.

The Kwai Chung school is Hong Kong's only school dedicated to hearing-impaired students. The school provides a secondary education up to Form Five. 'Only outstanding students from our school get the chance to study at the Vocational Training Council,' Mr Chan said.

Aguilar and Santimyer understand how hard it is. That's why they travel around the world with Quest. They want to give hearing-impaired children a chance to do drama and express their feelings.

Additional reporting by Young Post intern Sophie Moon




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