SPOTLIGHT ON THE PERFORMING ARTS: In the Arts curriculum, flexible student-centred learning embraces the four Cs of 21st Century Learning (collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking). This enables our students opportunities to explore, challenge and innovate so they may thrive now and move forward with confidence.
Shakespeare in schools has been in the news recently. Should we be teaching his plays? Is he relevant in 2021? Isn’t it all a bit old and stale? If you ask those who attended the Regional Shakespeare Festival last Wednesday evening, they will tell you that the bard’s plays are still very much alive, inspiring creative and thought provoking youth theatre, right here in the Bay of Plenty.
And that has a lot to do with a group of innovative and dedicated Drama students from TGC’s Performing Arts Department. Three groups of students from Year 10 to Year 13, selected, developed and refined five minute scenes from Shakespeare, to perform at the Festival. While teacher Christina Cassells was there to support and advise, the process itself was completely student driven and executed.
Year 12 students Alymayu Ramirez Lema, Inaya Sinclair and Talia MacKinnon wanted to create a piece that was fresh and innovative. After working with Red Leap Theatre in Year 11, they knew the impact and creativity that physical theatre inspired. So, they decided to think outside the square and move away from a traditional scene. Using Ophelia’s final speeches, they developed striking movement sequences, soundscapes and chorus of voice that conveyed Ophelia’s descent into madness. The girls' creative and critical thinking skills were rewarded and they produced a highly sophisticated piece of theatre.
“We found the hardest part about the creation process was refining our big ideas down to something tangible and doable. But together we were able to trial and error to come up with the best outcome. The best thing about being in a team was having the constant support and motivation from each other to push through even if things weren't going to plan. From there we had to think critically about what was working and what wasn't. Although at times challenging, it was also valuable being able to voice our opinions and come to an ultimate compromise.”
Student director, Talia Ingham, saw the 2021 Festival as an opportunity to collaborate with students from different year levels and varied experiences to create a dynamic new take on the witches scene from Macbeth.
“Throughout rehearsals everyone from cast to crew inputted something unique and perceptive into our performance of Macbeth... Collaborating together, viewing the piece from the outside in and bringing bits from all our different backgrounds, we were able to produce something we are all proud of and ensured that our performance would appeal to many different people. We had actors and crew taking on secondary roles within the group such as makeup and hair and they all did an astounding job. There is no doubt that each one of them will make fabulous actors or future directors in the coming years.”
Talia Ingham also collaborated with fellow Year 13 Drama students to rework a Year 12 assessment piece from Twelfth Night. The girls spend the first two months of the year refining and reimaging the scene. Focusing on combining physical comedy skills and an excellent understanding of the text, the girls created a hilarious piece that showcased Shakespeare’s bawdy humour.
Well done to all students involved in this year's festival.
Shakespeare Festival Winners
Congratulations to Year 12 students Alymayu Ramirez Lema, Inaya Sinclair and Talia Mackinnon for winning the Student Directed performance at the 2021 SGCNZ University of Otago Sheliah Winn Shakespeare Festival. Their innovative physical theatre piece, exploring Ophelia’s downfall from Hamlet, wowed the judges who commented on the emotional impact of the performance. The girls will now travel to Wellington for the National Shakespeare Festival during Queen’s Birthday weekend.