From the Head of Performing Arts
Congratulations to all involved in the recent Years 7 and 8 production of HONK! Jr. Our appreciative audiences left the theatre humming the songs and discussing their favourite moments, all the while with big smiles on their faces.
The auditions in Term 2 seem like an eternity ago now. However, the cast have honed their skills as ‘triple-threats’ in rehearsals since, and produced a very special piece of theatre, of which, they should all be very proud. After a busy yet productive production week of dress and technical rehearsals, the cast and crew took to their respective roles like ducks to water. Once Friday night arrived, there was renewed focus and energy that led to a seamless performance.
One of the joys of reaching this stage in the process is handing every aspect of stagecraft and production over to our talented students. The technical team, makeup artists, costume assistants and backstage crew consisted of a variety of students from Years 7 to 11. They made the production look and sound excellent. Being part of a show has its distinct challenges, however, these become even more difficult when your job requires you to avoid being noticed! Their work was superb, as they managed to strike the right balance in every area through confident planning, decision-making and teamwork.
The cast were, quite simply, awe-inspiring. They were able to tell this beautiful story of The Ugly Duckling and convey its important messages with the fun, sincerity and energy it required. The audiences were captivated at every moment. I was very proud of what they achieved and am excited for what the future holds with such talented performers coming through the ranks.
We had a great team of staff work on this production, and their efforts in guiding, teaching and motivating our cast and crew made the process such a joy to be a part of, and I know our students feel the same way. Allegra Dennison (Year 8) in the role as Dance Captain was a revelation, helping the cast to ‘find their feet’ and sharpen their choreographic efforts. Thank you all for a job well done.
Our Drama Auxiliary produced another sterling effort for our front of house – the decorations and refreshments tied beautifully to the themes and setting of the show.
Years 9 and 10 Drama Performances
Congratulations also to our brilliant Years 9 and 10 students who staged their class plays on Wednesday 1 November to a hugely appreciative audience. The class did a masterful job of converting the Ballroom into an acting space, to perform their two pieces titled Everdeen and Capulet. The class of ten students, taught by Ms Kathryn White, successfully planned, developed and presented all areas of stagecraft. In doing so, they refined their technical, design, publicity, and performance skills, gaining a deeper appreciation for the many and varied facets of theatrical production. Their original scripts cleverly explored the background to characters in Romeo and Juliet and The Hunger Games, and were written, auditioned, cast and produced over Terms 3 and 4.
Our next performance evening is the Speech and Drama Showcase on Wednesday 15 November, starting at 4.00pm in the Ballroom. This is an opportunity for our Speech and Drama students undergoing the Trinity College London examinations to present their work to an audience. We look forward to sharing in the excitement and successes of their work in conjunction with their teacher, Ms Kathy Lucas, over the last year. Admission is free, so we hope to see you there!
The final performing arts event of the year is our House Arts Evening on Tuesday 5 December, starting at 6.00pm in the Senior School Hall. This event is usually very well attended, as it is the culmination of a week’s worth of preparation from all the Senior School students, so arrive early to secure your seat. We will also be making a special announcement regarding the House Arts Trophy.
Staff Professional Development
St Catherine’s Speech and Drama teacher, Year 3 Stage Skills, and Year 4 Performance Class Drama teacher, Ms Kathy Lucas, recently attended a brilliant professional learning program at The Arts Centre Melbourne titled ‘The Creative Curriculum – Performing Arts in the Primary Classroom’.
The program was delivered in two parts by three teaching artists; professional arts practitioners who also have experience working with young people in the school environment.
Part one of the program was a full day workshop at The Arts Centre Melbourne in which Ms Lucas was able to work alongside peers from schools around Victoria, immerse herself in a series of practical masterclasses, engage in skill development activities, discuss and collaborate with peers on applying the learning to the classroom, explore the ways to apply artistic disciplines across the curriculum, develop skill sets, teaching tools and strategies to integrate within a classroom context. Artistic disciplines explored were; rhythm, music, sound, body, text, performance-making, visuals, design and objects.
Ms Lucas found the workshop to be inspiring and most useful for further engaging her students.
She particularly enjoyed the many approaches to working in the classroom without a need for any special resources or requirements, bringing the focus back to her students’ creativity. Ms Lucas taught some of the practical exercises to her students and delighted in their imaginative responses.
“I am noticing the expansive nature of student responses. It is definitely improving their playmaking and improvisation skills. Ideas are flowing more freely. Moreover, there is a very natural organic delight and confidence in the students as they go about creating their own works”.
Part two of the program included a four-hour collaborative session between the teacher and a teaching artist. Ms Lucas is now working on developing a proposal for a project she would like to implement at St Catherine’s. The focus is to apply a practical performing arts model to our own school environment and curriculum needs, which we look forward to working towards.