Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: dozens of UAE pupils perform musical 'The Show Must Go Online' from home

Nearly 50 pupils took part in the remote performance, which was painstakingly recorded and edited into a single production

Dozens of schoolchildren in Dubai and Abu Dhabi performed an online musical to raise awareness of the plight of refugees.

Nearly 50 pupils from seven different Taaleem schools in the Emirates took part in The Show Must Go Online, performing from their own homes.

The pupils spent weeks rehearsing for the event, held in association with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“We wanted to do something to bring the kids together and keep the sense of community between them, despite the fact they had to study from home,” said Stephen Delano, director of performing arts at Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.

“I had watched musicals being put together remotely and thought it would be a good idea to do something similar with our students.

“Our No 1 goal is to put a smile on people’s faces.”

Mr Delano said the performance was a “play within a play” and had two parts.

Its early stages focuses on pupils’ attempts to rehearse for the musical while in lockdown, while the later section tells the story of their efforts to keep the production going while the outbreak continues.

Pupils hoping to take part in the project had to undergo an audition process that required sending in a video of themselves performing.

Once the cast was selected, there were five weeks of rehearsals before the final video could be recorded.

Footage of their efforts was shared on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and featured 49 pupils aged between 10 and 17. Not all the pupils were in the UAE when they recorded their performances.

“It was loads of fun performing at home, but I got stuck in New Zealand during lockdown so doing it along with catching up with school work was a bit of a challenge,” said Emma Windsor, 12, who studies at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park.

“My role in the musical is of a character who is trying to perform a scene so that her school can carry on with the musical during quarantine, except she can’t find anywhere that is quiet enough.

“Her family just keep interrupting. My family really enjoyed playing that role and making noise in the background.”

The musical was made to help mark World Refugee Day, which took place on June 20.

“Children in this era are much more informed and aware of the reality of the world we live in, from global warming to human rights, and it is important that these values of empathy and solidarity are strengthened within them at a young age,” said Houssam Chahine, UNHCR chief of private sector partnerships for the Mena region.

“These kinds of initiatives also allow a great opportunity for parents and teachers to further empower students’ knowledge on these topics, and embed within them, as the leaders of the future, a strong sense of social responsibility and community development.”

There are 79.5 million displaced people around the world, according to UNHCR figures.

The organisation said more than 50 per cent of refugees under its care come from only five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.

“This pandemic has proven to everyone that we are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us,” he said.

“It has shown that our efforts to ensure that displaced populations and host communities living below the poverty line are included and accounted for in humanitarian response measures are more crucial than ever."

Updated: June 29, 2020 06:55 PM

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