Students shine in charity production of Les Miserables

April 23, 2023 - 09:39
After the New General Education Curriculum was applied in all Vietnamese schools by the Ministry of Education and Training, the use of theatre as an educational tool is becoming increasingly common.
A scene from the musical Les Miserables. VNS Photo Kieu Trinh

Kiều Trinh

Students at the Olympia School in Hà Nội put on a successful musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel "Les Miserables" on the evening of April 22, 2023. Two hundred tickets were sold and the money raised will go to a charity fund.

After the New General Education Curriculum was applied in all Vietnamese schools by the Ministry of Education and Training, the use of theatre as an educational tool is becoming increasingly common, especially in creative learning environments such as at Olympia.

Every academic year, the school's stage is joyful with colourful performances, spanning all grades, from preschool to high school. However, this year's Les Miserables production was especially unique, as it was a product of the great efforts of 24 students who produced the entire musical themselves.

As part of their 10th-grade Literature programme, students have the chance to explore the renowned novel "Les Miserables" by the great author Victor Hugo. However, the school goes beyond the usual reading comprehension activities and provides a range of reading, writing, and creative experiences for the students. The most prominent of these is the construction of theatrical work adapted from the original text, which will be performed at the end of the school year. This initiative provides students creative access to a literary masterpiece to expand their cultural and literary horizons. Moreover, the project helps them develop various essential competencies such as self-discipline, communication, problem-solving thinking, and creativity, as well as enabling the practice of crucial skills across all subjects.

In order to create this production, grade 10 students and their teacher had to work together for over half a year to overcome many challenges. They were tasked with adapting a Western literary classic into a musical, which had never been done before at the school. They had to work with a text that was not in their native language, requiring them to read and understand the book before they could practise. The students had to be extremely creative and resourceful to create a real musical with limited resources.

Đàm Phương Thảo, the group's literature teacher, said: “We often joked with each other, wondering if building this musical play is an act of daring or courage. Since there are only 24 students in the group, we have to perform all the stages, from coming up with ideas, writing the script, creating props, backstage work, lighting, sound, technical aspects, etc. This requires a lot of hard work, cooperation, and a very high team spirit. Making a musical play, especially an English-language musical, is a big challenge for both the teacher and the students.”

The project requires a lot of hard work, cooperation, and a very high team spirit. VNS Photo Kiều Trinh

It's worth noting that this project began in a literature class, where students had the opportunity to read and analyse Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables." The students were then given the challenge of adapting the novel into a musical for their end-of-year production. This project allowed them to explore a world-renowned literary classic and enrich their cultural and literary knowledge.

Trần Hiểu Linh, a 10th grader who plays Madame Thénardier, said: “I had to watch many plays from this work, read and watch the movie Les Miserables to learn more about the character. In addition, I am not only an actor but also one of the members of the technical committee. I had to learn a lot online about how to edit music to make a good piece of music.

"Even though we had to stay every day until 7, or 8 pm, I'm so happy to be able to build a play entirely with our own efforts."

Trần Nam Thái, a 10th grader, said: “In addition to playing the role of Marius Pontmercy, I am also the head of the logistics department. I have to arrange a time for rehearsal, singing practice, and doing the checklist of props. There were times when I wanted to give up, but encouraged by the teachers, I tried to complete the role. After the process, I learned how to act, how to sing, and gained more confidence.

"I am currently running a charity fund for children with cancer. I learned that this play also sells tickets to raise funds for children, which makes me very happy. This year, I have had many opportunities to participate in charitable activities and I am pleased that I have been able to do something good for these children.”

The making of musical production of Les Miserables can be seen as a journey of creativity and perseverance for both the students and their teachers. This production showcased the students' talents, passion, and dedication to their craft. It is a testament to the power of arts education and the importance of encouraging young people to take risks and pursue their dreams. The project is an excellent example of how education can be used to create meaningful experiences and make a positive impact on the world. VNS