IIS Shakespearean Theatre Club

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Decius (Caroline Welling) & Julius Caesar Khan (Balakarthik Balaravi)

Ipoh International School’s (IIS) A-Level students are visiting Ipoh’s schools to showcase their renditions of three Shakespearean plays. Among the schools where they have staged their shows are SMK Seri Ampang where they staged “Macbeth” and SMK St Michael where they staged ‘Julius Caesar’.

Shakespearean plays seem formidable in their original texts but the IIS versions are simplified and fully accessible to the average school audience.

The objectives of the IIS Shakespearean Theatre Club are to reawaken interest in Shakespearean classics and to promote an appreciation of literature in English. In the process, this endeavour provides an exciting drama and public-speaking experience for the A-Level students here.

IIS’s A-Level programme which offers the Cambridge (CIE) qualification is conducted at the Tenby A-Levels Centre at Ipoh International School. The programme which offers both Arts and Sciences is of great interest in view of its co-curricular focus on Shakespearean drama, public speaking and community service.

“Every A-Level student is required to undergo the Shakespearean drama experience as it deepens their appreciation and understanding of life issues,” says Louis Rozario Doss, principal of the Tenby A-Levels Centre.

“Our students study the original Shakespearean texts, then remould the stories in a modern context in language today’s students would understand. It is the process of bringing Shakespeare to life in our schools and society.”

The setting of ‘Julius Caesar’, for example, is in a country that echoes Afghanistan. The opening scene is set in a secret disco where musicians are playing ‘Dekko Abto’, the Hindi version of the Beatles ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’. This scene gives a sampling of what the IIS’s A-Level students are engaged in.

“Our renditions of Shakespeare are really funny and cool,” says Cheang Hoi Yee, formerly of SMK Perak Girls, who plays the narrator of ‘Julius Caesar’. “Our audiences are never disappointed.”

“My plunge into Shakespeare has been the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream,” says Balakarthik Balaravi, formerly of SMK Methodist (ACS), Ipoh. “I enjoyed acting as Julius Caesar renamed as Julius Caesar Khan in the new context. The drama experience has brought our A-Level class together in a powerful bonding experience.”

The IIS Shakespearean Theatre Club’s performances are available to all schools in the Kinta District on Mondays from 4.00-6.30 p.m. Schools which would like to invite them to perform may contact Mr Louis at 012-5902025 or call the IIS Office at 05-2538530. There is no performance charge for schools in the Kinta District.