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Year 11 Drama Assessment

June 28, 2017 at 2:37 PM

For Year 11 students who study drama, the NCEA Level 1 course encourages ‘the exploration and development of dramatic ideas in inventive and imaginative ways’ and ‘to clearly communicate ideas and feelings through performance.’ 

During two evening shows this week, the anguish of human nature was put under the spotlight by the Year 11 drama students as they presented two plays: ‘Find Me’ by Olwen Wymark and ‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka, adapted for the stage by Steven Berkoff.Each student’s performance was assessed for NCEA Level 1 standard 1.6 – Theatre Production. 

Held in the close proximity of the drama suite, the focus was placed clearly on the actors and their stage craft; their ability to not only deliver their lines but to use complex dramatic skills to fully engage their audience. The cast was rotated during the course of each play, giving a number of students the chance to take the lead, each bringing their own dimension to the role.

‘Find Me’
Set in England in the 1970’s, ‘Find me’ was based on the true-life struggle of the Taylor family in coping with their ‘mentally disturbed’ daughter, Verity. Wymark was one of the first female writers to tackle mental health issues in this context and the result was a raw text that left the audience questioning what they would do as parents if faced with similar circumstances. 

Using the technique of multiple characterisations, ‘Find Me’ was staged as a series of chronological vignettes, each portraying an incident which ultimately contributed to Verity’s downfall. Whilst the play seeks to investigate the personality of the young girl – to ‘find her’ – it was also a study of the effects of her behaviour on those around her. From a 9 year old girl who was ‘a bit of a handful’ to the 11 year old who first gets incarcerated in hospital, to the 20 year old committed to Broadmoor, each scene imbued Verity with levels of anxiety, melodrama, effusion and calm.

Deeply anchored in the moral climate of that time, it was sobering for today’s audience to reflect back on an era not so long ago,  when electric shock treatment was the norm for mental illness and the ‘god complex’ of medical professionals was yet to be challenged. 

‘The Trial’
Focused on corruption and mediocrity, the ‘ is the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself - not knowing what the charges are or who is charging him. The play is in the absurdist genre, where people become objects, and time shifts and melts as an ensemble of disturbed onlookers portray K’s subconscious views and those of society. 

The entire class was onstage throughout the play, with four students playing the lead character in turn. The costumes were chosen to reflect the Gothic nature of the play, adding a degree of ‘menace.’ It was the stark staging that had the greatest impact as eleven door frames constantly moved and regrouped to become doorways, corridors, a rocking boat and a variety of other scenes from K’s life and imagination. 

Discouraged from phoning a lawyer and encouraged to ‘go about his daily life,’ the audience watches as K encounters many people, who all seem strangely connected to his case but leave him without answers - whether lawyers, secretaries or priests, they all prove corrupt. The play culminates with his case going to trial, where he is found guilty, but of what? We never find out. The playwright, Berkoff speculates that K’s guilt is ‘betraying his inner spirit to the safety of mediocrity.’ In a harrowing final scene, he is executed by the other three K’s, symbolising he is to blame for his own downfall. 

Two plays, many actors; some roles played by multiple actors, some actors playing multiple roles – this was such a great night of entertainment it was hard to believe they were ‘assessment pieces’ rather than full productions!

 

Click here to see more photos of ‘Find Me’ 

Click here to see more photos of 'The Trial'

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