Living in the Limelight
In this edition of Student Blogs, we speak with one of our stars of last year's Secondary School musical Leander Claussen on his extensive acting experience and how the Yew Chung International School of Beijing has helped him pursue this passion.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Leander Claussen. I’m 14 years old and a Year 8 student currently finishing my 9th year here at YCIS Beijing. I was born in Germany, but I have lived here in China for most of my life. I really enjoy watching films and theatre in my free time.
How did you first become interested in drama?
Drama has been a pivotal part of my life growing up, dating back to my childhood when I always used to impersonate the characters from the cartoons and films I watched. I remember imitating their movements, personalities and even their voices. But as I have grown I have become more interested in the various forms of acting. One that I find quite interesting is the Stanislavski System as it involves taking advantage of personal feelings and bringing it into the character. I also remember as a child I often received praise from family and friends for my acting skills, bringing me the motivation to keep exploring.
What was your first performance?
Though I cannot remember my first performance to be exact, I remember one of my first roles in a performance as one of the three wise men in a Christmas play. At first I felt a little nervous due to the large audience but I followed along and soon got over it. The most difficult part of this performance was probably presenting it to an audience, but now I have learnt the audience is only there to support the performers.
You recently performed in the school musical. How was the experience?
It was an awesome experience. Never until now have I ever participated in a musical so well directed and so entertaining. In the musical I played a supporting role as a bold teenager named Billy who so happens to be one of the “cool guys.” I tried to bring a bystander type personality to the character, as he was the group leader’s “second-in-command.” I felt different in this performance compared to my previous experiences. I felt more of a need to take risks and try my best to bring the character to life. I also felt more relaxed performing than I have before.
How has YCIS Beijing helped you pursue your passion of drama?
YCIS Beijing has offered me amazing opportunities to explore my drama skills, starting with school musicals, drama classes, and even extra supportive events such as quite recent International School’s Theatre Association (ISTA) events. Many of my classes throughout the last 3 years have been taught by Mr Pearton, who has not only taught me the basics, but has also given me great personal advice.
Do you plan to continue your drama studies into adulthood?
Yes, absolutely. I hope to be an actor when I grow up and to be able to play more emotionally sophisticated characters. One type of acting I would absolutely love to explore would definitely have to be method acting. I think method acting is something extremely creative; it explores the loyalty of one’s self to their character and builds the character step by step. Although it may be mentally challenging, it does inspire great performances.
What advice do you have for your fellow students who are interested in becoming more involved in drama?
Drama is a great opportunity to express your emotions, communicate with others and develop self-confidence. It is a wonderful art to explore. Drama may not necessarily be as simple as it sounds, there is way more to it than you can ever imagine. But with courage and confidence you will eventually be able to master it. I believe drama is important because life itself is a drama each and every one of us live in everyday.
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