Here in Melbourne, every year the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (government curriculum board) showcases the very best of the previous year’s Year 12 Drama Solo Performance Examinations. A little over two weeks ago, 30 of these student-scripted 7-minute individual character performances were showcased before current Year 12 Drama students and their teachers in order to get tips on exactly what is required to achieve a high standard with the assessors.
(This year’s exam is here, if you’re interested in understanding the task).
Once again, Top Class Drama 2010 demonstrated a high level of skill from all student performers. Imaginative choices in decision-making were scattered throughout. Character transformations are getting slicker every year at the Top Class concerts. Remembering what is onstage was an examination piece six months earlier, according to exam rules, each students must transform into other characters. It was great to see many performers avoid clunky transitions, instead transforming smoothly and seamlessly into other, secondary characters in their performance.
Even though every performer who makes it into Top Class Drama received a perfect-score A+ on their exam and then made it through an invitation-only audition process where many students missed out, there is always going to be slight variations in quality across all three concerts. Usually, 33 students perform in three concerts of 11, but in 2010 it was one less performer per concert, totaling 30. It will probably always be the case where some performers appear to have better skills than others, though one could still argue once performed at a concert, the audience views are subjective opinions, not criteria-based examination scores where the performances began months ago in an exam room.
This year I was fortunate to have two students perform in Top Class Drama and I was very proud to see both of my students perform on stage at the Melbourne Recital Centre a few weeks ago. Behind the scenes, 6 of my 14 students from 2009 were invited to audition for this year’s program … and that really threw me into a spin!
Only a select few from all the Drama, Theatre Studies, Dance and Music Season of Excellence concerts are asked to perform at a combined concert at Hamer Hall. This year’s concert will be on Friday 28 May. With a seating capacity of 2,600, performing at Hamer Hall is always a buzz for a student performer. Only three or four Drama students are asked to perform their solo performance at the final-stage Top Acts concert. One of my students performed at Top Acts a few years ago and I was thrilled, knowing that this will probably not happen again to me in my career, because the odds are stacked against you. But yesterday changed all that, with a pleasant phone message to discover one of my students from this year’s Top Class concerts has been asked to perform at Top Acts in late May. Hers is a mostly dramatic and serious performance and ranks as one of the most sophisticated student-written performances I have had the pleasure of being a part of. I’m looking forward to seeing it all again 🙂
So, if you teach VCE Drama in Melbourne or regional Victoria and have never been to a Top Class or Top Acts concerts, I can highly recommend it as great professional development. Students get so much out of seeing others of a high standard perform and knowledge gained always transfers directly into their own upcoming solo performance or monologue exams.