Last week, Alex and I were asked to come and teach theatre to a group of high schoolers through a program called APACE. APACE stands for Asian Pacific Advocacy, Culture, and Education academy. The program is run through the Asian Pacific American Studies department at Arizona State University.
In years past, APACE invited judges and lawyers to come in and teach the students about mock trial as a way of learning about and practicing public speaking. This year, they wanted a change. Kathy (my mom) asked if I would be interested in teaching the students about acting and directing them in scenes. I said yes.
I participated in the program myself back when I was in high school and I loved it. My favorite part was connecting with other Asian American students, since I grew up in a pretty white community. Many of them I’m still in contact with. I remember I loved learning about the history of asians in America, especially the Japanese Internment Camps. So I was super excited to come back as a mentor and teacher!
I asked Alex to join me since he has a ton of experience working and teaching theatre. He also has far more directing experience than I do! Alex planned some games and taught them at the beginning of each day. The students (clearly) loved them! We also chatted with them about creating characters and how to move onstage.
We also chose 10 scenes to direct. On the first day we had all of the students audition with monologues we chose and we quickly cast them in the scenes. From there, we each chose 5 scenes to direct and got to work. Over the course of three days, all 10 scenes were performance ready. I was shocked.
I don’t consider myself a director. I’ve directed things before, but never once have thought of directing as something I would truly love doing. Same with teaching. In my experience teaching kids, I’ve had fun but never thought about it seriously. But this experience has made me rethink that.
Our feedback was beyond positive. Parents loved seeing their kids shine onstage and the program and community leaders were blown away that the students were able to pull it all off in three days! Alex and I were thrilled with our work. I was so proud that I got a chance to work with such open, kind people.
If you’re interested in signing up for APACE next summer, check out their website here! I cannot recommend this program enough.