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Top Class Drama Review 7/4/06

This afternoon I had the privilege of seeing the first of three Top Class Drama sessions (1.00pm) as part of the Victorian Curriculum and Assesssment Authority’s Season of Excellence program. So I thought I would blog the highlights (not every performance) and if I make a few errors, please excuse me as I don’t have the running sheet before me, and so will blog from memory.

First up was Rory from Wonthaggi SC with a strong performance of ‘Pride’. Loved the massive prop, laughed at the image in my head of the trailor behind the bus carrying the over-sized picture frame down the highway to the exam centre (!) and really enjoyed this young man’s insight’s into the challenges of the task to the audience, as he was invited to speak a little while later. Strong expressive skills evident here in a sophisticated performance that really made good use of exaggerated movement and caricature.

The Beauty Queen Helena Rubenstein was a solid performance with an excellent use of prop (don’t quite know how to describe the swinging white thingo, sorry!). Good use of accent, pathos and disjointed time sequences. A strong performance.

I also enjoyed both ‘Shakespearean Characters’ presented in this program. The first of these was performed by a young woman who had such a wicked idea of a model Shakespearean stage within a suitcase (complete with little Shakeapeare play characters and red curtain etc)! Everyone in the audience just loved it! Her expressive skills were also very strong during this performance.

The second of the Shakepsearean characters from Scotch College was also a great show. It’s very difficult performing toward the end of a long program because no matter how interesting the performances have been before you, the audience unfortuantely is a little restless. I really enjoyed this performance and felt I connected with the many different characters presented. No doubt about it, fantastic use of a prop, here! A piece of thick rope was used for multiple purposes as the actor transformed character and location. A fine example for any student on how to effectively use a prop in a solo performance .

I thought the firefighter Asahina Daigo from Ruyton Girls’ Grammar was a very interesting performance. Now, I’m going to be honest. I didn’t see much substance in this exam character last year and told my students to avoid it like the plague! Later down the track I discovered many students actually performed the character without ever reading the Manga it was associated with because it was so difficult to get a hold of, which is a pity. I’m guessing the assessors may not have seen too many strong Daigo’s walk through their rooms last October. But this performance today was very strong. A perfect example for budding students on how to incorporate sound into a solo performance. The actress used so many sound effects (from her mouth) in various parts of her show that enhanced her performance. Loved the use of a small picture frame as prop, also.

The Ford Prefect character performance was also strong. Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning, it’s not the actor’s fault if his microphone cuts out half way through the performance! Not being a fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, I found this exam character (on paper last year) and everything it represented incomprehensible at first and then realised, that was sort of the idea in a way. Great physical skills in this performance, wonderul use of gibberish, some clever use of positioning costume and props (shirt and hoop) and a clear and understandable performance. Possibly the most illogical of all characters was made very coherent by the actor for the audience.

It would be remiss of me not to blog about my own student in this program; Amelia performing The Security Guard. After talking to her after the show, she said her microphone (‘what microphone’, I said?) didn’t work at all! I think most people heard all her performance, although because there was no mike, her own Drama teacher struggled to hear the softer parts, partly due to my wonderful seat allocation in the very back row next to the bio box! We worked hard together on her character transformation being as slick as possible and I think Amelia did a fine job in this area. Perhaps a little slow on tempo, her performance nevertheless demonstrated a coherent spoken text, showed great use of comedic timing and good use of contrast between characters and events at Melbourne Airport and Troy. She made her buddies in the senior Drama classe at Avila proud in the audience. Well done Meelz!

So, if you were there today as student, participant or teacher, it would be great to read your comments on what you thought of the characters presented in this program?

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1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s so refreshing seeing someone so interested in Drama posting their opinions. I wish more teachers took your lead Cashy. I was there for most of the first concert but hunger got the better of me and I had to leave after the 2nd Pride to get food and get ready for my performance in the 4pm concert.

    Now I have to admit, I was blown away by so many moments in everyone’s performances.

    Let’s start with good old Rory. I am one of the three that “just got in there and did it” with Rory. We got in there, did it “hard at the start, hard at the middle and hard at the end.” HAHAHAHA!!!!! Anyway, let’s forget about the entertaining speech and talk about his performance. I’ve seen this piece evolve and it just gets better and better every time I see it. When the curtain rose I thought the light on the frame and chair looked absolutely fantastic, so regal. Rory did such a solid performance showing his amazing caricature skills.

    Then there was the Beauty Queen, Casey. I’d never seen a beauty queen done before so I didn’t know how I would react to it. It was definitely well rehearsed because she used that spinning mirror so damn much. I loved the “lies, cover-up” bits.

    Next, the CWA member, Tegan. She is obviously a very naturally funny person because she seemed so relaxed up on stage and her comedic timing was great. The pregnancy bit was great!

    Ford Prefect- Anthony. A character I had no idea about before I saw this performance. He looked like he was having so much fun on stage and had a LOT of fun with non-naturalism. The transformation of the hoop and the towel was so funny.

    Precious- Danielle. When she walked out in the fat suit I was already laughing. I’d only seen this character done really seriously and seeing it done with a bit of comedy was great. I thought the music that was coming from her suit was a mobile phone going off behind me!!! The Botswanian flag headdress was great and loved the accent.

    Pride- Justine. I thought this performance was absolutely fantastic. Loved her accent and transformations. Dancing and disjointed time sequences were great. She looked so natural on stage. Great symbolic use of gloves and cravat.

    I missed out on seeing Amelia and Kyle so I was a bit bummed at that. Got to see the last bit of Angus’ Shakespearean performance. Big boxes were great and the transformation of the rope was amazing. Rhythm created by drumming on the box was great.

    The 2 performances that really stood out for me though were Ashleigh’s Shakespearean character and Monique’s Asahina.

    I thought I’d be so jealous of all of the Shakespearean Characters and I was. Ashleigh’s performance was so fantastic on so many levels. Her language was so rhythmical and it was so tightly scripted. I will never forget the line “how do you like that for pathos!” Absolute genius! The puppet theatre was such a great idea and I loved her rhyming patterns. The language was so sophisticated but easy to follow and costume and movements suited the character perfectly.

    Monique’s performance was so physically demanding and was obviously known back the front. I couldn’t get over the amount of sound she created from her mouth and how that suited the moments perfectly. The use of the frame was great. I loved it how she had it around her head and shoulder, therefore not picking it up and dropping it all the time. That usually makes the performance look clumsy, but this one was great. Amazing transformations of character, movement and disjointed time sequences all contributed to this great solo.

    That’s my two cents worth on the first concert. I hope you all enjoyed the performances and I cant wait to see the third one on Saturday 22nd. I hope a few people read this and contribute their opinions about the 2 concerts so far because it’s so great to see what people think, like what could have been used better and what did you love/hate.

    Alrighty, have a good one…

    Will

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