Top Class Drama 2009

Well, another year of Top Class Drama has come and gone, showcasing the best 33 Year 12 Drama solo performance examinations in Victoria.

As with all years, there was a variation in the quality, even though all students reportedly scored perfect exam marks with their piece last October. This is to be expected somewhat, when one considers other possible criteria for selection in the program:

  • mix of characters
  • mix of male/female performers
  • mix of city and regional students
  • mix of Government, Independent and Catholic schools represented

Not to mention these performers were spread over three sessions of 11 in the program and that they “resurrected” their exam performance several times in order to perform it six months later.

For me, what stood some performers out from the pack was a combination of research, scripting, skill, energy and stage presence. Potentially good solos were weakened by a lack of performer energy or obvious nerves, while potentially less exciting examination structures were boosted by quality research, fabulous scripts and wonderful stage presence.

Each year I highlight in my program performers in each Top Class Drama session of 11 that stand out from the pack. I’m not naming names here, suffice to say that my number of exceptional performers in each session was as follows:

  • Friday, 11am: 4
  • Friday 2pm: 3
  • Saturday 2pm: 6

The new venue at the Melbourne Recital Centre was fabulous and very attractive to our younger audience, though I’m sure a lot of people will be lobbying for microphoned performers in 2010. Filming the performances for DVD sale to teachers was also an exciting venture that has only occurred once before at Top Class Drama.

Thought I’d finish this post with a few more observations. Our students only require a simple prop to use and possibly transform in their performance in order to make it enthralling and pleasing to the assessors. Here’s a list of some of the props used this year:

  • cloth bone
  • drumsticks
  • suitcase
  • milk crates
  • boxes
  • rostrum
  • briefcase
  • ladder
  • screen
  • fence
  • see-saw
  • telephone
  • pen
  • hoops
  • hose
  • chest

Interestingly, my year 11 class decided the more successful props were of the “home made” variety, constructed by the student (or helpers), as opposed to existing everyday objects. Why? They believed the home made props were deliberately better suited to the content of the solo before transformation.

My final observation is that costume items have finally made their complete introduction into the Top Class program. One of the best performances used no traditional objects (props), but rather transformed a hat. Other examples included scarves and material being transformed. The big question is though, are these objects? Technically, they weren’t even costume-props, but items of costume. Makes it a little tricky for “object” transformation” when your definition of “object” is “prop” and it is costume that is being transformed…

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3 Responses

  1. Leiah says:

    I am confused, i thought that the use of a hat would definately be stagecraft – costume, but this has been used to tick the object box too. At least they are erring on the side of the student, which is a real positive, give credit where it is due. They use of items in so many creative ways really was inspiring.

  2. Justin Cash says:

    Yeah, I’m assuming the same. Possibly my definition of “object” may have been too narrow.

  3. Borbs says:

    Interesting comment about the prop/costume issue. I guess if they made it into Top Class, the definition of ‘object’ must be broader than ‘prop’. It just means any object capable of effective dramatic expression and manipulation such as transformation. I think that’s fair enough.

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