DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE (from show program)
Angela Knowles, Patrick Connolly, Jessica Mackenzie, Melissa Dickinson

Early in FINALE, the characters ask “Why are we here?” They look for meaning and purpose in a new place. Years ago, as new teachers arriving in China, we found ourselves in a similar position. A new country, a new school. What would we make of this new adventure? How could we make it really matter?

In the beginning, we certainly had no plan for ‘StageCats’ or the loving community that this name would come to represent. But after seven years, sixteen shows, over 300 student members, we arrive at this final show with a feeling of pride so overwhelming that it takes all four of our hearts together to truly feel it. Working together so closely for so long, we four teachers/ directors/ best friends have perfected the art of taking on just a little too much and making it work by relying on each other. Yes, we bickered mercilessly about the best technique for painting a yellow brick road across the stage. Yes, we convinced ourselves to stay up all night before a show as a new sound system was installed. But even in the most trying times, we could always look to each other for equal doses of inspiration and insanity. Whether we brought out the best or the worst in each other is still up for debate, but what matters to us is that we somehow stumbled upon a team – a family related not by blood, but by a shared tendency to get hopelessly carried away. And if that’s not fate, we don’t know what is.

What means more than anything, though, about our time as StageCats are the students. Those who went from not speaking English to performing a leading role. Those who found motivation and inspiration onstage that they carried into all other areas of their lives. those who came to describe the program was a home and a family.

FINALE is an expression of these shared experiences, and a reflection on the end of StageCats in its current form. With us directors moving on and our founding student members graduating this year, we aimed to create a final production that would not only entertain, but also encapsulate the themes of endings, change and new beginnings. The show brings together ideas workshopped by over 20 past and present members, and features original music, scene writing, choreography and photography created by the six main actors. It is a magical feeling to see the show emerge from the students themselves, using talents and skills they’ve worked for years to develop. Endings are certainly not easy. Goodbyes are never perfect. The best finale we can hope for as teacher-directors is knowing with certainty that our students don’t need us anymore to produce an amazing show.

Our greatest wish is that all our StageCats students follow their passions into the future to feel fulfilled no matter where they are. Take it from us: if our experience here has taught us anything, it’s that meaning and purpose can’t just be found – they are created. Purpose is letting yourself get carried away and meaning is loving the people who get carried away with you.