Head of Drama
If you want to understand the social, cultural and political history of a country, you cannot do better than study the plays of the period.
David Hare, playwright, actor and theatre director
I love this David Hare quote. My study of plays and viewing of live theatre has provided me with the History education that I didn’t get at school (I still regret not studying History for my HSC). When I consider the plays that our Year 12 students have studied and chosen for their Individual Performances, it is evident to me that they have not only gained an insight into the historical and social contexts in which these plays are set, they have also had the unique opportunity to step back in time and live out some of the most pivotal moments in human history. These include the life and times of Elizabeth I, the experience of a young orphan living in Poland under the Nazi regime, and the grief of an Australian wife whose husband has been sent to the Vietnam War. History and the problems we face in the present come alive on stage. This allows audiences the chance to comprehend our world from a range of perspectives, to learn from the past and to re-imagine the future. Theatrical storytelling is vital for this very reason.
How will the unbelievable tales of 2020 be presented on stage in the future? What will we learn from the musings of playwrights? How will directors and actors give a voice to the stories of communities that have faced crisis after crisis this year?
Our theatres are closed, but our classrooms are open. Already, our Drama students are trying to make sense of this year through theatre. This term, Year 11 Drama students created original group-devised performances under the title ‘Responses to a Crisis’. At a time when our professional playwrights and actors can’t present their work, I like to think of our girls as the ‘first theatrical responders’ to the many crises of 2020. The Year 11 pieces explore COVID-19, the devastating fires at the start of the year, police violence and brutality and the inadequacies of some of our world leaders. These performances have been filmed and will be shared with you later in the year via an online stream. Stay tuned for more details.
I write this newsletter article as our Year 12 students put the final touches on their HSC Individual Projects. The range of projects completed this year is testament to the fact that our girls are not only skilled performers but also accomplished theatre makers, critics and researchers. The resilience of these students in the face of the many changes to the HSC Drama examination this year is extraordinary. While they may be nervous about the final submission of their work, I strongly believe that the markers are privileged to view and read their projects. We are looking forward to sharing these with you at the HSC Showcase on Friday 18 September.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Amy Perry and Ms Hannah Montgomery for their energy, hard work and support this year. Providing our students with an engaging, challenging and relevant Drama education in both face-to-face and online classes is no mean feat.
Ms Anna-lea Russo
Head of Drama