Dr Wenley Leads Drama Workshop

February 26, 2018 at 2:13 PM

Each year, as part of their NCEA Level 2 studies, our Year 12 students focus on the work of the ‘Epic Theatre’ form that which is now associated with German playwright, Bertolt Brecht. The students will be assessed on showing the features of the theatre form in a performance.

In preparation, and to gain a greater level of understanding of Brecht’s work, today the students were fortunate to welcome back former College student, Dr James Wenley, to lead them in a workshop based on Brecht’s ‘Epic Theatre’ style .

Dr Wenley graduated from Saint Kentigern as the joint College Dux in 2006, and is well remembered for his involvement in College drama from musical productions to Stage Challenge. In his final College year, he took on the malevolent role of Bill Sykes in Oliver. Currently, he is a Professional Teaching Fellow in English, Drama & Writing Studies and has just completed his PhD at The University of Auckland. His focus was ‘Finding Ourselves: New Zealand Theatre's Overseas Experience.’ James hopes to make a significant contribution to the understanding of New Zealand theatre, and provide some key learnings for future artists looking to position New Zealand productions in a global marketplace. He said, ‘There is a rich and diverse performance culture in this country, but few scholars in the field. I see my career calling as being the continued research into, and promotion of, theatre from New Zealand.’ He is also editor of Theatre Scenes, the Auckland Theatre Blog, and a theatre critic for Metro Magazine.

Instead of theatre being a place of illusion, Brecht wanted his theatre to be a place of debate and discussion. He called attention to the ways that both theatre and society are constructed – directing his audiences to think critically about what they were seeing, in order to provoke action and change. 

The workshop has given the students a better understanding of Brecht, preparing them for their NCEA Achievement Standard 2.4 later this term - ‘Use complex performance skills associated with a drama or theatre form or period.’ 

Our sincere thanks to Dr Wenley for spending the time to work with our students.

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