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Take A Bow

10 Mar 2017

take a bow (3)

Brenda Lee (front row, middle), stage manager of the school’s drama club, says what goes on behind the scenes is as important as the action on stage.

While her friends in the drama club enjoy the limelight and applause onstage, Brenda Lee finds satisfaction in exercising her creativity backstage — through scriptwriting.

When the time for the curtain call came, Brenda Lee from Deyi Secondary School stood with the cast on stage to take their bow as the audience applauded and cheered. It was her first stage production with the school’s drama club as a Secondary One student and she felt an unexpected sense of satisfaction. Up until that moment, she had not seen herself as being part of the performance. After all, she thought, she was only helping to move the props on stage.

“When I first started out, I was very unhappy,” Brenda says. “I had this mindset that backstage crew is not important.” But that night, when everyone including the supporting cast and crew were invited to accept the applause, she felt proud of what they have accomplished as a team.

“All these people were clapping for us,” Brenda says. “It’s not just the cast. We (backstage crew) helped them so we felt happy too.”

Working behind the scenes

Brenda, who’s in Secondary Four now, has since branched into scriptwriting and found her passion for it. She co-wrote a parody The Twisted Tale of Little Red Riding Hood, which was performed during the CCA showcase for the Secondary One Orientation last year. She also wrote a script on cyberbullying for a street theatre performance.

Brenda is inspired by what she reads in the news or observes in her everyday life. She writes when the ideas strike her – even when she’s on the MRT.

Some may think of scriptwriting as a solo effort but Brenda believes that it’s important to have others chip in with their ideas. She comes up with the first draft of a script and gets feedback from her teachers and cast on how to improve it. “As a scriptwriter, I only have a rough vision of the play. But when our members try out their lines, I can think of more suitable dialogue to put in,” she says.

The process of rewriting and editing the script can take weeks, and sometimes, months. While she may not get to act out the roles she created, she finds satisfaction in seeing her friends bring the characters to life on stage. 

Leader of the crew

Brenda stepped up to the role of stage manager last year. She describes it as being “the leader of the crew”. She’s responsible for overseeing the running of the entire show – from coordinating the backstage work and scheduling rehearsals to recording the director’s decisions on the actors’ positions on stage.

Brenda is determined to continue the good work done by the former stage manager, one of her seniors in school. In fact, she credits this senior for being the one who made her see the importance of the work behind the scenes.

“As a kid in Secondary One, I just wanted to act,” Brenda says. “But she told me that the crew is as important as the cast. Without the crew, everything will fall apart.”