KDU Train Young Talents for International Drama Competition And Won!

Angkasa Space Food Kids Detective script-writer and director – Ms Gabbie Ngoh Vee Nee (2nd left) and her assistant directors (from left) Justin Lim Wei Hang, Thong Jiamin and Aaron Sze Too Wei Quan, sharing the joy after their team emerged as Runner-up in International Science Drama Competition (ISDC) 2016.  With the concept of Young Training the Younger, Thong Jiamin (from 1st right of the back row), Aaron Sze Too Wei Quan and Justin Lim Wei Hang took up the role of Assistant Directors for the drama heading for competition on international level. 
KDU Diploma in Entertainment Arts students with the young kids who formed the sole Malaysian team competing in the International Science Drama Competition 2016. Joining them are school teachers and parents of the children, KDU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hon Wei Min and Director of Petrosains, Ms Tengku Nasariah Ibrahim.   
KDU University College’s School of Communication & Creative Arts (SCCA)  proudly shared a joyous moment when the sole Malaysian team that they coached for the International Science Drama Competition (ISDC) 2016, held at the Science Centre Singapore (SCS) on 4 June, clinched the Second Prize and Overall Best Performer Award.

The ISDC is an annual international competition, which allows young students to combine scientific knowledge with dramatic flair to showcase their talents as well as compete at international level. This year saw ISDC receiving country teams from Singapore, China, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. Winning the second place, the Malaysian team defeated 3 teams in this international competition, coming in behind Laoshan Xiaowan Primary School of Qingdao, China, who clinched the first prize.

The Malaysian team comprised of 10 young actors from two primary schools, namely SJKT Taman Permata in Dengkil and SJKT Teluk Merbau in Bagan Lalang. The team members and schools were selected by Petrosains, the science discovery centre under Petronas, together with ASTI (Association of Science, Technology and Innovation), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that provides education opportunities in learning STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), under an initiative supporting underprivileged schools.

KDU’s School of Communication & Creative Arts (SCCA) was roped to train these young talents due to its strength in the performing arts arena - being well known for its distinctive Diploma in Entertainment Arts, coupled with past year performances, active involvement in the industry, testimonies on the quality of its students’ works.

 “KDU was invited to collaborate as a trainer to train the young kids. The first round audition for 20 children was held in KDU to find out these pupils’ strength and their ability to improvise, and also on individual command of speech. At the end of the audition, only 10 children were selected based on the characters in the script,” explained Ms Pouline Koh Chai Lin, the Academic Department Head for Creative Arts, SCCA.

The script with abstruse science facts was written by KDU’s experienced and skilled lecturer – Ms Gabbie Ngoh Vee Nee, who is also an expert in directing. In this 7-minute short skit, Ngoh, with her vast experiences in the industry, developed a script titled ‘Angkasa Space Food Kids Detective’, based on the competition theme ‘Food for Life’.

The storyline of this play is about a little scientist named Ginny taking her little brother Tim to the Nasar Space Food Kids Detective Lab, in order to train him in choosing meals with great quality for the astronauts, amidst numerous challenges encountered. The leading role Ginny was played by Preeteeba A/P Jeva, a Primary 6 student from SJKT Taman Permata, and Tim was played by Vishalan A/L Kumaran, a Primary 6 student from SJKT Teluk Merbau. Vishalan made a strong impression, so much so that he walked away with the Overall Best Performer title in ISDC 2016.

Since early March, a series of weekly training sessions were carried for these children, at KDU’s state-of-the-art TV studio. Advocating the concept of Young Training the Younger in cultivating performing arts talents for the nation, Ngoh appointed three Diploma in Entertainment Arts Year-2 students, Thong Jiamin, Aaron Sze Too Wei Quan and Justin Lim Wei Hang, as her assistant directors. “Thong, Sze and Lim were selected based on my observation in class. The three are responsible, creative and enthusiastic. Through this process in training up the younger kids, we enable KDU students to apply the skills that they have learned from directing lab and acting lab,” said Ngoh. Continuing, she explained on her students’ roles, “They provided and assisted in training in acting, vocal projection, props and costume-making as well as team drama to the children over these 12 weeks.”

On prize-winning, Ngoh attributed the success to team work. “Overall, good teamwork leads to a successful performance, where you are an actor or a backstage person. I am very proud of all my students as I see them grow in terms of their personality, behaviour and the ability to collaborate. I am also glad that the kids are able to pull off the show professionally and even able to perform truthfully on the stage,” Ngoh said.
When asked about their experiences on training the younger actors, Thong Jiamin replied, “I had to start from scratch learning how to deal with young actors and how to direct a play. I need to have an image on how the whole play is going to look like and on every single detail, from their emotions, movements, blocking to costume. With challenges throughout the way, this experience has trained my patience on dealing with different personalities, and this has been a great opportunity to know more about myself too.”

For Aaron Sze Too Wei Quan, the experience of training the much younger generation was very fulfilling for him. “It provided a platform for me to explore innovation in my directing skills, and challenged me to think out of the box. As we need to compete with other countries on an international level, this gave us a lot of pressure to be better and the best out of the best!”

Sharing the challenges they faced, Justin Lim Wei Hang said, “There were quite a few problems that surfaced after training began. As I am the manager for props and designs, I have to think on how to design them creatively by using DIY equipment and cheap materials within limited budget.”

And Thong added, “The biggest challenge would definitely be dealing with young actors. We were often troubled by not getting the effect that we’ve explained to the young actors.” Her point was echoed by Sze Too, “Directing a play for students under 12 is not as easy as we think.”

Nevertheless, the trio admitted that they also benefitted from the experience of training up the kids, by building up their own strength in performing arts and professional skills.
“By watching the young actors perform while directing, I have an image of me myself acting as well. That gave me a chance to keep practising and improve my acting skill,” shared Thong. And Sze Too concluded, “In the performing or entertainment arts industry, having a certificate doesn't define how capable we are, but experience and skills does. By saying so, this experience is a great opportunity for all of us to gain from.”  
Kudos to the KDU team, as well as the young Malaysian team performers who shone internationally, for their achievement in ISDC 2016!