Visiting Professionals Elevate The Value of APAC Theatre

by Brian Lavender, Concordia Applied Journalism

A group of theatre professionals from around the world are packing their bags with Concordia on their minds. 

With the Asia Pacific Activities Conference (APAC) Theatre just around the corner, the Concordia community is gearing for a dramatic festival filled with creativity and skill-building. Our school community is specifically hosting the “Pacific” division of APAC, so we can expect to see students from American International School of Guangzhou, Taejon Christian International School, Western Academy Beijing, Canadian Academy Kobe, and Shanghai American School Pudong on campus for the event which happens February 20 to 22, 2020.

Professional actor, movement director and choreographer Jay Dunn is one of four visiting experts taking part in the APAC Theater Festival in February.  (image supplied)

Among the visiting experts this year is Brooklyn-based actor, movement director and choreographer Jay Dunn. Mr. Dunn is experienced in both stage and screen settings and he’s bringing his energy to APAC this year.

While one might think that popular stage dramas would provide the ultimate stimulus for dynamic workshops, Mr. Dunn instead pushes his students toward higher levels of personal creative development. “Doing plays and musicals written by others is a wonderful experience,” he says, “but there is something especially empowering about putting your own ideas in front of an audience.”

    Esther Stellar is a multi-talented theatre expert                with a Shanghai connection. (image supplied)

As a facilitator of self-discovery, Mr. Dunn reflects, “part of my job as a teacher is to open doors for students and show them the many possibilities of what theatre can be.” With the heart of an educator, Mr. Dunn has high standards for the experience he’s giving his students. “There's nothing better than the Ah-ha! moment when a theatrical possibility opens up […] that moment when the student says ‘Wait, I can do that?!’”

Mr. Dunn is part of an inspirational lineup of visiting theatre professionals. “We've got a talented team,” he says. “I'm looking forward to working with them and the students to make something magical.”

Working alongside Mr. Dunn for the Concordia APAC 2020 Festival is actor, director, arts educator and combatant Esther Stellar ( With over five hundred hours of stage and screen combat experience Ms. Stellar is a certified Advanced Actor-Combatant with Fight Directors Canada. Her instructional portfolio includes disciplines which incorporate small sword, longsword, rapier and dagger, and unarmed martial arts. Ms. Stellar has a Shanghai connection through her role as Program Coordinator of the Intercultural Musical Theatre Project at HaoIs International.

Joining the cast of educators is Sheila Bandyopadhyay, a director, movement specialist, performer and devisor of original theatre in New York City. She describes herself as being committed to non-traditional theatrical performance that is literary, music-driven and physical.

Rounding out the team of professionals is dance/performing arts educator MeLinda Tatum Kaiser. Ms. Tatum Kaiser brings a wide range of teaching and performance experience to the event. She describes her work as being motivated by the belief that “student experiences in and with the arts are crucial to help students develop their creativity, find their artistic voice, enhance empathy and hone creative problem solving.” Ms Tatum Kaiser takes a very specific approach, ensuring students are engaged with elements of creating, performing, appreciating and reflecting.

With such a wide-ranging of talented professional instruction available, the upcoming APAC Theatre Festival is sure to be a practical and memorable experience for all participants. 

Brian Lavender teaches AL Journalism, Psychology and English at Concordia International School Shanghai. He is also a founding team member of CitizenC, Concordia's community journalism platform.