In organizing the Good Reads for Good Deeds charity campaign, Juven had the honor of sitting down with different individuals involved with NGOs and charities. We want to feature their stories here. Juven hopes that through this campaign, we can build a new model of engagement between charities, organizations and the public.
Reading into Shakespeare
Hong Kong is a city focused on finance. Many parents want their children to secure a good job and live comfortably. Happiness is conceived as financial stability and success. Space for children to just be children becomes increasingly small as everything becomes crowded out by academic expectations.
“I hope to change children and parent’s perception of learning, understanding and acknowledging the experience in finding unique talents and interests. These can greatly improve a young person’s life skills, which schools do not emphasize in their teaching approach,” Shiona explained. Shiona Carson, the artistic director of Shakespeare4All sat down to talk to us in their office. “I hope to bring the joy and happiness of acting to all children with emphasis to drive a multi-cultural, multi-background environment,” she continued, “I want to break the stereotype of older people imparting “knowledge”, by allowing children to learn from reasonable freedom, and to experience the nuances of “childhood”.”
Shakespeare4All is a non-profit organization driven to inspire the youth of Hong Kong to aspire to excellence and find their skills. The organization teaches all kinds of children, ranging from aspiring actors/actresses from privileged backgrounds to underprivileged children who don’t have experience but are willing to learn and grow. “I believe that if the children can tackle Shakespeare, they would be able to tackle any adversities that life has to offer,” Shiona said, “Shakespearean plays demands a level of quality.”
Shakespeare4All also does other plays with various themes: Walkie Talkie, a magical non-verbal acting experience that allows actors and audience to have fun and laugh; Power House Project, allowing Hong Kong’s discouraged youth to build a career path by allowing them to have involvement in all aspects of a drama production, with a final goal to be a part of the S4A annual Gala that will captivate their peers; Hub-bub, a sensory and experiential play acted and seen by the very young, ages from 6 months to 3 years old.
With her motto being “Don’t focus on the winner, focus on winning”, Shiona has experienced a lot of eye-opening situations while teaching children at Shakespeare4All. “One of my most memorable experiences was to see children slowly opening up and challenging themselves to do more difficult tasks,” Shiona recalled. One girl she met in 2015, in particular, changed her perception about children opening up to new challenges. “At first she did not seem to be interested in the activities. But after constant showings at S4A auditions and shows, she became louder and more comfortable, had improved eye contact and emotional connection started meticulously practicing at home and invited her family and friends to join the show.” Another memorable experience that Shiona had was to teach a pair of talented siblings from a difficult background. “Their parents let them join to learn English, but I realized one of the sister’s talents in singing and desperately helped her to improve it,” she recounted. After a performance where the sister’s showcased their talents, her mother demanded to know what S4A did to the microphone for the younger sister as she could not acknowledge her daughter’s beautiful voice.
To hone her skills in creating better plays, Shiona reads psychological thrillers and books that seek the search for truth to better understand the story, build up and why. “I find reading ties in directly with the work that I do,” she said. She greatly believes that people should share their skills, rather than focusing on the benefits of self. Changes might be small, but every little bit can make the society grow.
Donate to Shakespeare4All via Juven and help children from all backgrounds to learn to be open-minded, with your effort we can brighten the future generation of Hong Kong! https://juven.co/shakespeare4all/donate
Juven builds integrated organization software that empowers charities, companies, associations and clubs of all sorts to build, engage and grow community. We believe that organizations should have access to beautiful, intuitive and reliable tools to create greater impact.