For the founders of the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), their experiences and dedication to the school have come full circle. On Wednesday, November 28, those founders looked on from the audience as they and their founding story were being acted out on stage. Grade 4 and 5 drama students assumed the roles of the founders and WAB personalities past and present in the original WAB production Story of a Dream.
The play was written and produced by WAB drama directors Goldie Ahadu, Paul Shiel, and Christine Tunon in collaboration with the 23 drama students. To depict the school’s past, the production mixed spoken dialogue, singing, photos, and video from WAB’s history. Ahadu says that the inspiration for Story of a Dream came from an article of the same name by Sabrina Brady, one of WAB’s founders. During the early days of developing the play, Brady visited the drama class and to answer student questions and share her ideas and recollections about WAB’s history. The original script and score included WAB’s founders, current and former directors, teachers, staff, and students, as well as Dr. Jane Goodall, with whom the school still works closely.
The one-night-only production packed the auditorium full. Those involved in the original story of WAB looked on as they were represented onstage by current students. Greg MacIsaac, WAB’s long-time videographer, grinned from the audience every time his doppelganger, grade 5 student Lydia S, came on stage holding a video camera slinging witticisms in a thick Canadian accent. Brady greeted her onstage self, grade 5 student Una, with a hug and a joke about aging well.
WAB’s Founding Principal Ian Rysdale, who was also in attendance, remarked that seeing “the very beginnings of our school celebrated and remembered is really wonderful! But to see grade 4 and 5 students perform like this so many years later [is]more than we could have dreamt!”
Photos courtesy of WAB