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Nilai U students stage play as end of term project for the Theatre and Acting module

“There are many lessons which students gain from the Theatre and Acting module. But the most important ones are teamwork, communication, and unleashing the power of one’s imagination,” says Mano Maniam who conducts the Theatre and Acting module at Nilai University (Nilai U). The noted thespian admits that students were a bit wary when the module was introduced four years ago but has grown in popularity immensely. “They probably heard that there were no books involved!” he laughs.


Stage Lessons

Students in Nilai U’s Theatre and Acting module had to produce, direct and script their own end-of-term play.


The omission of text books notwithstanding, the enthusiasm and exuberance displayed by students who sign up for the Theatre and Acting module is a clear sign that they have thoroughly enjoyed their classes and are eager to absorb lessons from the veteran actor. Mano notes that there has been a sizeable contingent of international students who sign up for his classes. “This is probably because the module represents a great way for them to improve their language and public speaking skills. It is also a fantastic way to boost one’s self-confidence. After having performed on stage for an audience, everything else seems easy,” says Mano.

Students in this Theatre and Acting module are graded on the end-of-term staging of a play, which they must produce, direct and script themselves. “It is a completely original endeavour which really allow

students to fully explore their imaginations. But this is not a one-man show, thus making effective communication and teamwork essential if the production is to work,” he counsels. This year’s production saw 30 students divided into four groups to produce four vignettes with the theme of ‘Light and Dark’.  Mano says apart from instruction that each play had to be about 20 minutes and some guidance on scripting, the students were pretty much left to their own devices to come up with a play that would vow the audience.


Stage Lessons

Students celebrate with their mentor Mano Maniam (last row, 2nd from left) the successful staging of their end-of-term play.


The first play was called ‘Blind Love’ and details the complexities of teenage love and infatuation. This was followed by ‘Biggest Mistake’ which was a cautionary tale about a pregnancy out of wedlock which leads to tragic consequences 25 years later. ‘Christina’s Secret’ delves on how two brothers fall for a schizophrenic girl and how they are almost torn apart as a result. Appropriately, as the thunder and the rain lashed outside the President Hall where the play was being staged, the last piece was called ‘Light in the Haunted House’ which saw how a young neglected child befriends a puppet which comes to life with drastic consequences. Manohad in the past asserted that the success of a play was not determined by whether the lines were delivered perfectly or if the set looked professionally set up but rather whether the audience had a good time. Judging by the loud guffaws of the near-capacity crowd and the even louder applause, the students seem to have pulled off an amazing feat.

Nilai U administrators take a holistic approach to education and have provides students with various opportunities to broaden their horizons. Besides the Theatre and Acting module, students can also opt for modules such as Dale Carnegie’s Skills for Success, Mizuno Golf School and Outward Bound’s Skills for Survival. Students who successfully complete these modules will receive enhanced certification giving them an added cutting edge when they enter the working world as bold, confident and sociable young adults.