By Andria Luo, FCSN Voices Senior Youth Reporter
Graphics by Amanda Loh, FCSN Voices Graphic Artist
Over this past summer, FCSN hosted a drama camp for its After-School Program (ASP) students, who performed their own unique rendition of the well-known film Kung-Fu Panda on August 6 at the New Hope Church Chapel.
Due to the pandemic, students were stuck at home with little to do and lots of time, and ASP staff were concerned by the shortage of fun activities. Organized by Xiao Yan Luo and Ana Theresa Adriano, the camp was started as a fun and engaging way to combat intense social distancing regulations and cuts in normal activities as well as an opportunity for FCSN students to shine on stage. Yan gives this as one of the main reasons for the drama camp. “Maybe one day we are going to shine on the stage. I just want all of our kids to have that opportunity,” said Yan.
During the performance, ASP students took on roles of Kung-Fu Panda characters and donned costumes resembling the official movie appearances. The performance opened with an epic fight scene from the movie, introducing the performers who entered the stage. The story continues, alternating between video clips and live-action performed by the ASP students and helpers. Throughout the performance, the students acted out fight scenes, immersing themselves in the roles of the resilient heroes and powerful foes, and incorporated many of their own special twists, such as performing Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes after the introduction of the main characters and a synchronized kung-fu act during the training scene. Finally, the show comes to a touching close by welcoming all the performers back onstage to rounds of enthusiastic applause as each student’s name and role is announced.
The main reason behind the decision to perform Kung-Fu Panda was the movie’s uplifting spirit. It tells the story of a seemingly ordinary panda who is thrown into the role of a hero “The story says you have to believe in yourself. And then, I think, overall, we want our kids to really shine on stage and really be the star of the play,” said Adriano. With Kung-Fu Panda’s extensive character base, all the students were able to participate in the play and the character design allowed them to have fun with costumes.
Despite the many challenges that emerged from social distancing, the students and staff persevered, working together tirelessly to ensure a positive experience for everyone. From choosing the movie to writing and adapting the script, creating the backdrop to preparing the costumes, the entire process was a learning experience for everyone involved. For the two months before the performance, the ASP students practiced dancing and memorized lines almost daily while the staff worked on ironing out the little details, ordering costumes, reaching out to the performance venue, and coordinating volunteers. Although she had concerns at first, Yan said her worries slowly vanished as the performance date grew closer and closer and she saw the great progress the entire team had made. She stresses the importance of teamwork between staff and students in carrying out this event, saying “if we lose any of them, this show’s not gonna happen.” This special performance touched the hearts of many. Parents were proud and amazed to see their children shining up on stage, showcasing their talents for the entire audience to see. The biggest goal for the students was for them to be able to bring the confidence from being able to share their abilities into their everyday lives.
Although nothing is decided yet, Yan has already begun brainstorming possible ideas for future ASP events. “I always wanted to create a production that let our special needs kids shine,” she said in regards to her motivation to organize such projects. Regardless of what the final decision will be, one thing is certain: the experience and confidence gained from this event will undoubtedly aid the team in any future endeavors.
“The most important thing is our students really shined up on stage. Having the parents and the audience – all the staff – looking out for kids, and just having them have this confidence built up…it’s just really amazing” said Adriano. “It took us a whole community to be involved to put an effort. Yeah, this is a really, really, really great experience for the program and for FCSN overall.”