We enjoyed a wide range of theatre performances this year, three of which featured “Hornby” performers. The experiencing of musicals, opera, Shakespeare and New Zealand plays is a wonderful way of expanding our critical literacy by analysing and evaluating a show. It is inspiring to see how much students enjoy and learn from these experiences.
'We Will Rock You' created by Ben Elton showcased the music of Queen and the talents of our own Mrs Katie Beer. As reviews said “It was a first-class production brimming with hi-octane exuberance, an energetic young ensemble cast and a cracking band” so our students thoroughly enjoyed it. We were impressed with the visual spectacle of a huge video screen .
Boudica, performed by the Court Youth Company [author Tristan Bernays]
“Rome calls us savages – wild, mongrel beasts. Well – let us show them just how wild we are!”
We were immensely impressed by the mean, vicious warrior portrayed by our own talented former student, Haydon Dickie. It was very powerful watching this violent piece in a small theatre space with a transverse stage where drifts of red “blood” dusted our clothing and we were immersed in strobe lit battles. Boudica told an ancient story of revenge and power in a relevant, invigorating and hair-raising fashion.
A very different style of musical was Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Court Theatre.
Hedwig’s themes of love and survival against the backdrop of the Berlin Wall, immigrant dreams and rock and roll were grounded in the reality of a single person baring their soul and self to the audience. The themes resonated with teenage students and they were impressed by the sheer hard work of the Hedwig role.
We are so lucky to have a national opera company in New Zealand that attracts global opera singers and also has fantastic opportunities in opera for New Zealand singers. Once again we were offered the chance to attend the dress rehearsal of ‘The Barber Of Seville' at the Isaac Theatre Royal. This would be the fourth opera we have seen and the first comedic opera. It had a wonderfully hilarious story and the set and costumes were fantastically vibrant! Another fab excursion to the opera which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We are grateful to have the opportunity to attend!
The musical, Miss Saigon, staged by Showbiz Christchurch at the Isaac Theatre Royal was strong and moving. We were proud to see former Hornby student AB-Jay Baltazar performing with the ensemble. The musical, which was written in tribute to Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, tells the story of the lead up to the fall of Saigon and gets the audience involved in the drama of lives affected by the American war. The talented cast and ensemble delivered the haunting and challenging songs, the convincing acting and the crisp, and well synchronised group moves, to create a memorable performance.
The issues of gender roles and personal identity were seen again in performed excerpts from The Taming of the Shrew. The English Department organised a visit from the Ugly Shakespeare Company who with an all female company of three talented young women, entertained the audience with slapstick humour and thought-provoking gender stereotypes.
Rania Kaska and Julia Conklin were our Court Theatre ambassadors in 2019 which involved attending numerous performances and workshops at Christchurch's professional theatre. They and a group of Level 3 Pasifika students particularly enjoyed 'Fresh off the Boat'. This foundational Pasifika theatre work by Oscar Kightley and Simon Small, first staged in 1993, follows the journey of Charles Malepe (Jake Arona) who arrives 'fresh off the boat' from Samoa to Christchurch to live with his sister Elizabeth (Sela Faletolu-Fasi). This play linked with students study of the dawn raids in history and linked with our NCEA study of New Zealand Theatre.
“The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. The theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time. The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation. Stella Adler