The plays were scripted and directed by the students on topics such as homosexuality and suicide, police brutality and gambling which were put together over six weeks and took place among several high schools in NCD.
Andrew Kuliniasi, who started off as a script-writer and producer at the age of 15, and is now the drama director at the Moresby Arts Theatre, described the student’s written scripts and acting skills as the most “detailed and touching.”
“Kopkop College in particular has shown me some of the most amazing acting. I have been doing the Youth Arts Program since 2016, and the level of acting they are doing is impressive among some of the most experienced actors we have here.
“Their story has really moved all of us. We ask all of our kids to tell stories that are truthful but they’ve also taken our theme Dystopia and they’ve made it so real and so raw.”
Mr Kuliniasi added that drama and media are some of the most important tools that can help change mindsets through storytelling and that it is important for those going into high schools specially to participate.
His dream is to grow young talents and see students take creative arts as an actual career option for them, an area he successfully earned a living.
“Every time I work with students and every time I see how hard they work I cry. I cried so much during the judging process because they moved me and I feel like the theatre and the mentors have done a great job in planting that seed.”
The Secondary School music teacher, Joshua Rumbino says hearing the creative arts expert praise Kopkop College, has made him proud, and as an educator, he believes that it is very important to allow kids the space to express themselves.
“The students took the lead in all the performances they directed, did the script-writing, the props, and the acting.
“As an educator I think it’s very important for teachers to allow student-centered learning so that students can learn amongst themselves which then boosts their ability, knowledge and skills.”
The school won the best actress and stage manager awards at the 2019 Youth Arts Program, and Mr Kuliniasi says Kopkop College remains a contender for this year’s YAP, with the winners expected to be announced this week.
The year nine students have thanked Mr Rumbino for believing in them, saying they felt the program gave them an opportunity to be creative and be more open to social issues.
Sixteen-year-old Ruth Pini said: “We chose these topics because they are real situations that are happening and are affecting youth because most times people have their own opinions and put a lot of expectations on youth.
Adriana Mulavo aged 16 said: “These topics are something that needs to be talked about and so with these programs, it gave us the chance to talk about the things that we see happening every day. In a way it helped us to express ourselves. Because most of the time we are not allowed to do that in an academic setting.”
Antonio Endose, aged 15 said: “One thing I’ve learnt is that this helped me to feel more open about these issues. In the end its all about Identifying what’s negative and what you can change, forgiving, finding out who you are and reaching out to the right people for help.”