On The Stage
(submitted by Kat Whatley to meet the requirement of Arts For Life)

I have recently been in two Tokyo International Player’s productions. I played Helena in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Ann in The Crucible. My goals were to have fun, explore my creative side, and grow as an actress.

Midsummer Night’s Dream took place in October 2010. From August, I went to rehearsals three or four times a week. As a main character, I was expected to show up at most of the practices. I had to learn my lines beforehand, so I could be prepared for the rehearsals. The actual performance was from Friday to Sunday at the Shinjuku Sunmall Theatre. We had two performances on Saturday and Sunday.

The Crucible performance took place from March 1st to 4th, 2012. I  had rehearsals about twice a week for three months beforehand. Ann was one of the girls who called people out as witches. This time I was part of an ensemble, so I had to learn to work together and listen to the other girls. Acting in a group had its own set of difficulties. As I was also the understudy for Abigail, the main character, it was also my job to learn her lines and blocking as well. That meant I also had to go to many of the rehearsals that Abigail was called to.

Being in community theatre allowed me to develop my acting skills. Working in an environment where many of the people are older than me and more experienced than me made me grow as an actor. It meant that I had to work harder to get to the same level as they did. It was challenging to make sure that I learned all of the blocking and remembered them for future practices and performances. Switching from the high school student to actress and then to my character required a lot of energy and determination. It was challenging to focus on working on my character and on the play when I was tired. On the other hand talking with the cast was so much fun that often I didn’t feel tired anymore. It helped me learn time management, as I needed to finish my homework on the days I didn’t have practice. I had to go to bed early on days that I didn’t have rehearsal, so that I had enough sleep. It meant that I couldn’t watch television or fool around on the computer. I think it was good practice for the final IB year, as I needed to learn to time manage and choose what was more important to do at that moment.

Being in a play is all about teamwork. I needed to listen to the director to get my directions. I also needed to learn to listen to my fellow cast members and their needs as actors. Sometimes I needed to change my blocking or acting because it did not fit with the flow of a scene. That made me give in, and listen to others. When I was in the Crucible, as I was part of a group of girls, teamwork was all the more important. We needed to show a united front, but it was also my job to have a well formed character. I started by listening to all of the girls when we were talking, and listening to their ideas. That gave me both a better individual character and made me a better group member. When we finally got on stage, we were so in tune with each other’s needs that we no longer even needed to discuss what the blocking was, or what was out intention in that scene. It felt great to be part of such a team.

After my experiences in theatre, I know I have learned to listen to others better, gotten better at acting and time management. I hope I get the opportunity to continue acting in university and into the future. This activity also helped me learn more about plays, and has increased my interest in watching plays as well. I think it has broadened my understanding and appreciation of literature.

IB Diploma Art
(submitted by Virginia Russolo to meet the requirement of Arts For Life)

I have always had a deep passion for the arts, both performing art as well as fine art. Hence I decided to take the Visual Arts course at higher level. To succeed in this course students need to produce 12 to 18 artworks in a span of one year and a half and these need to show ‘ ..in depth and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the media used, with precise use of terminology to communicate this understanding…highly effective use of research, investigation and technical skills…In depth understanding of artistic intention and engagement with the artistic process demonstrated in consistent development of ideas, creativity and critical reflection’ (IBDP Visual Arts Final Grades).

This is the blog I created to keep track of my artwork:
Virginia Russolo’s art website

This is a video documenting my IB Art Exhibit:

Learning Outcomes
Awareness of Strengths and Areas for Growth
I strengthened my artistic abilities and techniques and learned new approaches to the artistic process.

Undertaking New Challenges
I had never interviewed or learned artistic techniques directly from artists. I also had never work with clay, plaster tape, gesso, a smoking machine, live models and other materials.

Planned and Initiated Activities
To be successful in the course, and as an artist, there’s a strong need for self-direction and self-motivation. I created, planned and executed all my work.

Worked Collaboratively With Others
I worked with a model twice for my work and that was a very interesting experience that involved communicating at a sensory level. I also collaborated with many artists by interviewing them and learning from them.

Showing Perseverance and Commitment
The most difficult aspect of the course is to find enough time to complete all the work. I overcame this challenge by prioritizing in.

Engaging With Issues of Global Importance
In class we try to be aware of upcoming artists and for example we watched a documentary about the controversial Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei and his political works. We also have discussions about the importance of art and its power in society.

Consideration of Ethical Implications
At one point I wanted to learn tapestry but I couldn’t overcome the idea of working with dead animals.

Developing New Skills
I am now able to use techniques such as ‘slabs technique’ and casting objects that I couldn’t before. I am also able to approach artwork in a more pragmatic way.

After this two-year course I feel like I’ve learned a lot but in the field of art there is always something new to learn. I was satisfied with the development of my personal concepts and in the future I want to keep nurturing them.

High School Choir
(submitted by Alisa Waninge to meet the requirement of Arts For Life)

I started High School Choir when I first came to YIS in Grade 10 (Year 11). The High School Choir consists of learning a number of songs throughout the year and performing them at various events. We go to rehearsal every Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning before school. I am an alto singer, the lower of the two female parts, and the main job of the alto is to harmonize the main melodies, usually sung by the sopranos. Due to my lack of past experience in harmonizing, I really felt like I wanted to improve on this, especially because I can use these skills not only for choir but for other performances as well.

I have definitely improved a lot in many areas over the past half year with the choir. AISA was a very motivating tool and so was Ms. Bridgewater, our choral director. I’ve realized I may not have a natural-born good voice, but it is definitely something one can work on, and I think I have done exactly that and because of it I am very grateful. Although there is still a lot to improve on, I have had a great experience with the choir in learning how to make sure I sound good when I’m singing. I have also learned my strengths in organizing and managing things, and therefore had helped Ms. Bridgewater a lot with the choosing and looking for suitable songs for the choir, and informing the choir of certain events that were going to come up. In December, the choir was going to attend a Christmas event but there were only two weeks to prepare. I arranged 3 choir songs to make it easy for the choir to learn it quickly in time for the event. I stood at the front along with Ms. Bridgewater to get through the songs, but one of the challenges was that it was hard to keep the choir focused, which made it hard to work quickly like I wanted to. However, I’ve learned that yelling at them every 2 minutes is counterproductive, and trying to keep cool and keep it fun is always the best way to go with the choir.

Of course, there is the aspect of us being a choir, a team. Although I found this difficult, I definitely feel as if I have made some friendships and good acquaintances with the other choir members. We often had to work together in order to get our parts right, and this, although tedious, was a good way to get us together and talking. We also had to make sure we were collaborative with Ms. Bridgewater and the pianist, Mrs. Foxwell in order to make sure we were doing the right thing and work together to solve small issues regarding the songs, such as one part being too difficult and changing it, etc. Added to this, Ms. Bridgewater and I had a lot of meetings outside choir time to discuss things about the choir. From this I have learned to work collaboratively with others. This year, (Grade 12), I have been assigned to be the section leader for the Alto group. I loved taking up this position because I could help my fellow altos and they would be keen to learn from what I know. As well as this, I take responsibility for my alto group regarding the AISA choir event coming up this year in Osaka, including things like making sure they are signed up and getting organized for the trip together.

As I said, there is a lot of new skills I have developed in the course of this year in the choir. Not only does my voice now have much more stability and power due to my singing almost every day, but I also have earned the confidence and now can hear myself more because I can sing louder and see where I can improve. I think what I’ve developed the most is learning how to have a good tone, and making sure I keep the tone and that I don’t go off track and lose it when I sing. Other skills I have learned is to breathe, to relax and to not be afraid of myself. I also have arranged a few songs to make things easier for the choir, and this was a fun experience and required good knowledge of the choir and the songs, and I think it has broadened my musical knowledge.

There are always times when one would rather go home and sleep instead of showing up to a choir rehearsal, but every rehearsal ended up being fun and simply a good time. The choir is something I’d love to continue even after I have finished high school.

Global Perspectives
Community Engagement
Arts for Life
Digital Citizenship
Fit for Life
Personal Goal
Advanced Academics
Personal Accomplishment