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Theatre collaboration targets bullying

15 May 2017 09:47 am

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The co-production between Mahurangi College drama students and Warkworth Theatre Group is ‘a play within a play’.
Warkworth Theatre Group and budding actors from Mahurangi College have teamed up to stage a play about bullying.

Road to Netherland, featuring Year 11 drama students, was written and tailored for the co-production by Joanna Jayne St John, of Sandspit.

“The theatre group was bemoaning that we needed more youthful energy and I’ve always had an interest in motivating young people, so we decided to give it a go,” Joanna says.

The theme is about bullying at all stages in life, from school to a retirement village, and how to overcome it. The production is also a play within a play, as the characters are putting on a play.

Joanna says it was challenging to write a theme that worked for school students and retirement age, while making it cohesive for the audience.

Teacher-in-charge of drama Jonathan Dutton says the co-production was a chance to involve the school and community. He says it presented extra challenges for the playwright, including finding a compromise on what was true to life but also appropriate for a school play.  Another requirement was to make sure the students had big enough roles so they can achieve their NCEA Level 1 drama assessment.

Drama teacher Emily Woodfield says the assessment involves performing a role in a scripted production, developing a character, portraying them on stage and following direction from a script. She says the experience will also be valuable for the students next assessment on script writing.

“They’ve had a rare opportunity to workshop the play with the playwright which helps give them an understanding of the character. Also performing with an older cast has been really valuable and will help with opening night nerves.”
One of the theatre group members, Manish Tanna, is a commerce teacher at Mahurangi College and says the collaboration gave him the impetus to join the group.

Info: Road to Netherland, At Mahurangi College hall, May 26 and 27, 7pm, $20 adults and $10 children, students and pensioners. There is an open dress rehearsal for students and parents on May 25.

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