Like last year, my school decided to participate in the annual English Skit Contest. Despite all of my effort, no other school wanted to participate except mine. This initially killed the drive of my students, with some of them saying, “What’s the point? We’re just facing each other again.” I quickly corrected them saying “It’s good practice and fun! So don’t ever say It’s pointless!” For some reason a lot of my students backed me up (probably to just pick on the whiny student) and complaints were never heard from again. Hey, whatever works.
This year’s skit revolved around a takoyaki thief. The characters that were involved were part of the same universe as last year’s skit, which I found to be hilarious. The writer behind the skits is a friend of mine and I was asked to give an audio example back in July. Needless to say, my kids were pretty surprised to hear my voice when hearing the sample.
This year’s preparation was really rough compared to last year. Due to the day of the skit contest being the day after their Cultural Festival, combined with dealing with midterm exams and club activities, everyone struggled to find time to practice. At the same time, I was still training Manami with her English speech for the next round of the English Speech contest. Long story short, from September to October, whenever I had a break in junior high, I’d be either training my students for the skit contest or Manami for the English speech contest. On my end of things I was dealing with observation lessons and lesson planning so I basically had next to little free time. I couldn’t complain though because everyone was on the same boat. I actually enjoyed being that busy though because it felt like I was really part of school life.
Week after week we went over the dialogue, practicing our pronunciation and acting. Eventually the day of the contest arrived. No one had really memorized their dialogue at this point so I was a little worried on how the students would be feeling. I was really surprised and relieved when I arrived at the event and saw all of my students running around, chasing each other and happily reciting their lines. They all gave me a heartful greeting when they saw me and asked me a billion last minute questions. I don’t know if it was because we were the only school participating or what, but everyone was really relaxed and excited.
Probably the greatest part of the day was when last year’s group came into the auditorium. Everyone was happily practicing until they showed up with a huge police car made out of cardboard. Props are always welcome during this thing but I had no idea they were going to this extent:
All the girls were just saying “UGH, how can he do this! You’re the worst, Ka-chan!” You could tell everyone’s fighting spirit had completely collapsed as they saw how serious Ka-chan’s group was. He was acting a like a director, telling his partners what position they should be in when they enter the stage, asking me translation questions for his adlibbed lines, etc. Meanwhile his mom who was sitting in the front was cracking up the entire time, just amused to see how into it he was.
Despite their hard work, they weren’t going to get away without being embarrassed. As soon as the judge’s announced their group to come and perform, the cardboard box police car that was on the stage collapses. Without a beat! It felt like some cliché funny scene from a comedy movie. Needless to say, that slip-up boosted everyone’s else spirit. Luckily Ka-chan’s group was able to fix the car for their skit!
The result? I think everyone could tell Ka-chan’s team was going to win. Not just from the awesome props alone but because they had mostly memorized everything and had great acting. The first years made a surprising 2nd place appearance. I really think the reason behind it was because they were first years and the judges wanted to give them credit for trying their best. Another group of second years got third place and they freaked out. I’d like to take credit for getting them there as I was coaching Nana-chan for at least 15 minutes on how to memorize certain lines. When she was up there, she forgot some of it but as soon as she was prompted, she did the rest! Good work, Nana-chan!
While this year’s group’s performance was a little sloppy due to lack of memorization, I really couldn’t blame them. They had next to little time to practice as they were swamped with so much school stuff. I told them in the very final practice session that acting was the most important factor in the skit contest. A group that didn’t memorize everything but had great acting sure beats a group that memorized everything but acted like robots. Luckily everyone in my school had the acting down.
The head judge’s final words to everyone was “Practice, practice, practice! Great job but memorize everything!” Ayaka without a beat yells out “OKAY! NO PROBLEM!” Laughter ensued. Ayaka is quickly shaping up to be the next Maido.
After everything was said and done, everyone wanted a picture of the whole gang in front of the car. Naturally I obliged:
The skit contest is always a blast. Despite being worked to death, I enjoyed every minute practicing with my students. I can even say that I managed to bond with my second years more—they’re becoming just as fun to teach as my third years. I hope third time’s the charm when it comes the contest…maybe we will finally be able to show off our acting skills to other schools next year!