A Great Production by Year 12 Drama Students

July 30, 2014 at 1:44 PM

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The Year 12 Drama students recently performed a moving production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, one of German playwright Bertolt Brecht's most important and socially influential plays. Included were some hilarious characters, hauntingly beautiful singing ….and a scene stealing puppet. Through the dramatic parable, the students explored what happens when the law conflicts with justice and asked questions about who is right and wrong in complicated situations.

The production was part of the Year 12 drama students’ NCEA Level 2 assessment which builds on the techniques, skills and knowledge development in Level 1. Their assessment activity required them to prepare for and perform a substantial acting role that must have had sufficient depth and length to allow them to make a meaningful contribution to the play. The play included approximately 40 students playing around 100 characters, with some students playing more than one character and sharing roles for different scenes in the play.

To clarify their understanding of the production and their role within it, the students were required to submit an initial statement of intention for the interpretation of their role and an annotated extract from a part of the script where their role was prevalent. They were then assessed individually on how well they performed their acting role in the play.

In developing their roles, students were asked to consider what their function within the action of the play was, how they would describe their role in relationship to the ideas of the play and what purpose their role played in communicating the key messages of the play. Equally important was how costume and props might be employed to help them perform their role convincingly and capture the essence of the dramatic context with impact. 

Final grades to be awarded will be based upon evidence and judgement over three categories; Achievement, Achievement with Merit and Achievement with Excellence and will contribute to the students’ overall grade result.

Bertold Brecht
Brecht wrote the play in 1944, nearing the end of World War 2. He is the second most studied playwright worldwide after Shakespeare and a renowned Theatre Director who developed his own theatrical genre known as Epic Theatre; a Theatre Form which serves to both educate and entertain the audience and which is studied and applied in the majority of credible Acting and Theatre Schools world-wide. Brecht’s theatre company - The Berliner Ensemble was arguably the most influential Theatre Company in Theatre History.

Drama at the College
The College commitment to the Arts programme is particularly evident in the ever growing interest amongst students in the dramatic arts. Drama students have a dedicated space under the performance venue, Elliot Hall, with two drama suites and associated costume and props storage, for the teaching of drama and for performance rehearsal. Elliot Hall has a full stage, professional light and sound equipment and seating for almost a thousand, offering a professional performance venue.

Three major productions are staged each year; one with a focus on dramatic performance for our students and the other two created as a collaboration between the music, drama and dance departments; one for Middle School students and one for Seniors. Students of all ages are encouraged to be involved and a bond quickly forms between members of the cast, crew and staff.

The technology available at the College offers the possibility of an added dimension to our stage productions with the inclusion of projected still and video images, combined with exciting music, sound and lighting techniques. The senior students involved in this aspect of the shows gain a great deal of technical knowledge and play an important part mentoring younger students to eventually take their place.

There is plenty of opportunity for students to be involved with all facets of the College productions. For those who do not enjoy being in the limelight, there are many openings to take a role in lighting, backstage, set construction, makeup, hair design and front of house. Whilst actors are always acknowledged for their talents, those that make up the rest of the drama team are also recognised for the important part they play in making our productions a success.

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