From the Head of Drama, Alison Jinga
The Drama Department is exceptionally proud of the 2017 HSC class. The students have been working on their major works for the last twelve months undergoing an intensive process that took them from trials, to the external HSC exam and finally to the recent HSC Drama showcase evening, where they were able to present their work to friends and family. 60% of their overall HSC course work for Drama has already been completed, 30% for their Group performance and 30% for their Individual project. This year we saw a variety of individual projects covering performance, script writing and promotion. It was a joy to see the diverse range of skills on display from this talented group of young men. And even more tremendous is seeing that skill being recognised with two performance pieces being nominated for ‘On Stage’, a showcase of the exemplary practical work from the Drama HSC practical examinations of 2017.
The class have been working collaboratively on their group performances which explore many contemporary issues in a variety of theatrical styles. We saw Paddy, Julian, Will and Ewan explore their concerns around the reliance on technology and social media in their piece, ‘Reality Check’. They tackled this issue from four different angles as they show a teenager who doesn’t pay attention to his father during his sickness and death, a bully whose life is changed when a fight is filmed and posted all on the internet, an Instagram blogger who is more concerned with taking photos while traveling than taking in the culture and a father who is so focused on his phone that he can’t see the value in the family around him. Set in the style of an AA meeting, the group used humour to explore an issue we can all relate to and invite the audience to consider their own reliance on technology. The group performed so spectacularly, in fact, that they performed before the school community at the innovation assembly, and have been nominated for ‘On Stage’ for this performance.
From the obsessive to the absurd, ‘Mind the Gap’ by Sam, Justin, Matteo and George, takes a look at the nature of conformity and the trap of falling into the rat race of life. The absurdist piece is set in a train station and follows four men at different stages of life waiting for the same train. This creates a problem when they realise that only one of them can get on the train. In the process of explaining why they should get on the train, each character has a realisation that acts as a catalyst for them to breaking free of conformity. Whilst the style of absurdism isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the group managed to make it accessible and engaging for all.
Hal, Miguel and Blake presented a witty satirical take on the Newtown hipster culture. The three characters run a failing cafe that takes a turn for success when they incorporate a magical berry into their menu. The berry becomes the demise of their relationships as they are pushed to the point of murdering each other, telling truths of real world exploitation of mining and the dangers of a consumption culture.
The final group, Ben, John, Thom and Oliver created the piece ‘Rough Tides’ which follows three refugees that are rescued in a storm by an Australian. The lives of each of the refugees are explored, revealing their reasons for wishing to come to ‘The Lucky Country’. The story jumps between their hopes and dreams for their new Australian lives and the challenges reality has in store for them. A poignant and thought-provoking piece about a divisive issue.
The students also worked to produce a variety of individual projects covering, script writing, promotion materials and performance. These ranged from hilarious to heart-warming, tear-jerking to terrifying, but they were all amazing.
Thom chose the demanding task of writing a short play. The synopsis as follows: After a patient escapes from his operating table, a mentally unstable doctor is faced with the daunting task of both letting the patient’s husband know she’s gone, and finding her again. Through a series of absurd events and miscommunicated interactions, those inside the Blackwood hospital find themselves reflecting upon their lives as they question the world around them.
Justin Fung elected to undertake the project of Design: Promotion and Program for the play ‘Summer of the Aliens’. The theme of confronting your past in order to move into the future was used to create posters for a fictitious production at the Belvoir St Theatre and included Waverley’s own Peter Lamb and Cjuba Lord in the graphics.
Hal Cumpston’s piece, ‘Shadow Boxing’ is about a young boxer who tells the story of his father’s final fight, and his last living moments. He recounts his father’s last ditch attempt to earn the respect of his son, refusing to go down in a match he had no business being in. It is this determination to prove himself worthy of respect the leads to his gruesome death as his son watches on helplessly. This emotional performance earnt Hal an ‘On Stage’ nomination.
Mateo performed ‘Captain Everything’ about a boy who is held captive in a box and abused, but is able to escape through his imagination. This high energy piece takes the audience on a journey through pop culture heroes on his quest to save ‘Princess Pretty-face’ from the monstrous ‘Bad Man’. From Mario to Batman, Clint Eastwood to Sherlock Holmes, ‘Captain Everything’ captivates his audience through the innocence of childhood, only for the reality of his situation to come crashing in.
Blake Thorne’s piece ‘Doing it for the Penguins’ follows an environmentally concerned citizen who decides to swap four wheels for two and ride his bike to work. However, he is faced with his own inconvenient truth, King St Newtown. This physically demanding performance was carried out to riotous laughter as he deals with horrendous Sydney traffic, the diabolical RMS and a rogue border collie.
‘Mike’, performed by John, looks at the trials and tribulations faced by a teenaged father. Mike tells the story from the time he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant, to trying to deal with taking care of a child when you are still a child yourself. It also examines how relationships change as we grow up and how to deal with the choices we make.
Sam Walsh performed ‘Zoo Story’, a contemporary absurdist play that he crafted into a single monologue. It follows the character of Jerry in this quest to find a meaningful connection in life. He attempts to create this connection with a stranger sitting on a bench in Hyde Park by telling them, and the audience, the story of his land lady’s dog and his subsequent trip to the zoo.
By contrast, Paddy performed a scene from the Tennessee Williams classic ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’. It depicts the confrontation between a drunken son and a disappointed father. In this piece, we see Brick finally confront his father with all the things he’s never been able to say with the hope that his father may finally accept him.
Oliver’s piece, ‘Ken’, took a dark look at the dangers of society’s desire to keep up with the Jones. We see Ken explain his immense jealousy of his neighbour Steve and watch as he attempts to justify his murder. Despite its heavy content, this black comedy piece had the audience in stiches, touting the importance of ‘super soft sweatbands’.
Finally, Miguel performed ‘The Comfort of Strangers’, a toast given by a groom on his wedding day about how he met his future wife. It looks at family dynamics and the ramifications of sibling payback. From joyous, to dark, to a very happy ending, this piece took the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, never quite sure where we were going to end up.
The Drama Department and the entire Waverley community are incredibly proud of all the hard work and long hours put in by this group of dedicated young men. Well done, and best of luck with your final exams!