A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Adelaide,
South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Drama - Edition 18 - 2021

2021 seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye! With our Year 11 and 12 curricular productions behind us, we find ourselves only a few days out from the opening night of A Pair of Star-Crossed Lovers, the Year 8 to 10 Junior Play, the JP!

The JP has become as much a part of the Drama culture at Westminster as any other major event. A great opportunity for students to get a taste of production on a grand scale, with a cast of over fifty, a band of four, and a production team of nineteen Year 11 SACE Stage 1 Drama students, ably aided by Old Scholars, the JP is huge!

I am very proud to observe the culture that has developed around the JP over the last two decades, which means those involved are completely at home with the idea of turning a two-hour play around from a read through to performance of excellent standard in just under six weeks!

In doing so, our students not only experience the rigour and commitment required of those in the Performing Arts, they have a great time doing so! This can be attributed to the unique rehearsal schedule structure wherein very specific scenes are worked as sections - much like the sectional rehearsals of an orchestra - then brought together during Sunday rehearsals. The upshot of this is very, very few students have more than one rehearsal after school, if that, each week. And, of course, credit must also go to the students’ phenomenal efforts during our annual three-and-a-half-day rehearsal retreat at the stunning Nunyara Conference Centre, Belair. This year, due to unforeseen circumstances, the retreat was suddenly and unexpectedly brought forward by a week!

Nonetheless, the retreat provided perfect conditions for the ensemble's exploration of A Pair of Star Crossed Lovers, a play exploring, perhaps now a little ironically, the actions of “disdainful youth” in their quest for recognition and love! A dramatic comedy, A Pair of Star Crossed Lovers playfully addresses the notion “the course of true love never did run smooth”.

Each day commenced at 7.00 am with Qigong, a discipline involving moving meditation, coordinating slow-flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing toward achieving a calm, energized state of mind. After enjoying breakfast, students are ready to engage in ensemble work, character workshops, script analysis, stage combat drills and choreography, voice work, technique exploration, rehearsing scenes and homework, often in small groups working simultaneously! Busy days, indeed! Sunday mornings involve a brilliant workshop with the affectionately named “Crazy Craig,” Craig McArdle of McArts who exhorts kids to be as bold as they can and to take charge of their power as performers. The workshop is physically and emotionally challenging, yet the students, without fail, finish smiling broadly! The upshot of the retreat is that the 2021 JP is in great shape heading into production week. We have a strong ensemble, students who barely knew each other five weeks ago, now working as a tight, cohesive unit with some outstanding performances emerging.

This young cast, their Year 11 support crew, assisted by very capable Old Scholars from 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2020, and the indefatigable Miss Whitney Goldsmith, has been outstanding in its ability to adapt to trying circumstances, to overcome inconveniences and to bring a high degree of enthusiasm and focus to the task of staging a large cast production. I strongly encourage you to get along to see the outcome of their enthusiastic hard work.

Tickets can be booked through the following link: https://www.trybooking.com/BVKKX

The play will be in two Acts. At this stage, Act 1 should run just under 90 minutes with Act 2 coming in around 60 minutes after a fifteen-minute interval.

A dramatic comedy, A Pair of Star -Crossed Lovers, Wednesday 24 to Thursday 26 November, Michael Murray Centre Drama Theatre. commencing at 7.00 p.m. sharp. Please note, late-comers will not be admitted until the interval.

Due to current SA Health COVID-19 restrictions, the auditorium is limited to 75% capacity and masks are mandatory.

John Doherty
Head of Drama