On Wednesday, July 26, an energetic and talented group of 75 high school students performed an original play - 10 Seconds to Go - at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) in front of a packed audience. Written and performed by the students, the play was directed by former AUIS professor and now Chair of Theatre at Millsaps College, Peter Friedrich. The students are participants of the AUIS Access Program - a fully funded educational scholarship by the US Department of State for high school students to improve their English language skills and learn about U.S. culture and history through various activities and after-school classes at AUIS.
The show explored a number of themes through thirty different scenes during the play, depicting challenges and issues faced by the youth in school, homes and within their communities. Commenting on the story lines, director Friedrich said, "The theme is balance, like how do you balance old and new; how do you balance standing up for yourself but also standing with others when you need to. There are no simple answers for that and that’s where theatre can help articulate the challenges for this generation of young people.”
The students found the experience very enjoyable and useful in improving their English language and public speaking skills; "I'm a person that likes reading and writing but I hated acting. But after taking part in this performance, I have started to enjoy acting. I’m taking part in two or three scenes in the show, including one called 'Black and White' which I think is the best in the play," says Zheer Aso, a 17-year old high school student. Sixteen year old Mirshad Fazil from Sulaimani High School said the play helped him to improve his vocabulary and expression, "It was great because we wrote the plays in English ourselves. Our teachers were very helpful, and helped us correct any mistakes, and translated words and phrases that I did not even know before." Other students commented that the play has helped them gain a lot of confidence to speak in front of an audience.
For more information on the AUIS Access Program at AUIS, please contact Rachel Gresk at firstname.lastname@example.org.