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DP Theatre: Collaborative Creation of Original Theatre

On Wednesday 14 September, staff and students were fortunate to be invited to a performance of the DP Theatre students’ Collaborative Project. 

With just two students studying for DP Theatre in Grade 12, this was an opportunity for other members of the school to see what they’ve been working on. Audience members were encouraged to provide valuable feedback for the project as part of an ongoing assessment component of the subject. Liana and Charlene did not disappoint and the audience were treated to a performance filled with movement, drama, tension, mystery, familial conflict, and love. Here they reflect on their performance and share insights into what the feedback meant for them, as well as give some words of advice for students interested in pursuing Theatre at Diploma level. 

Mrs. Pearson, DP Drama Teacher

Our performance centres around a dysfunctional family, in which a younger sister, Claudia Wu, struggles to live up to her overachieving sister, Poppy (a.k.a. “The golden child every Asian parent wants”). Her feelings of guilt, distance and resentment are only compounded after Poppy’s death, especially when her mom seems to have a close relationship that someone in mourning should not be having. When her whole family starts to fall apart, Claudia attempts to cope by summoning her sister from the dead “for some summer bonding time,” only to find out that something is amiss. 

In preparation, I needed to consider elements like lighting, sound effects, music, and costuming, and how we could both incorporate different elements of our chosen theatre companies in order to write a successful report. I had to have a clear vision of the storyline since it would affect Charlene’s contributions, slowing down our progress and adding extra work for us both. Coupled with scheduling conflicts, long rehearsals and last-minute cancellations due to bad weather or illness, we have trodden a longer road than was planned when we started.

The feedback was beyond satisfactory. We were unsure about the reception of the performance, so the fact that the audience can pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the show along with how certain theatre elements evoke TEAM (tension, emotion, atmosphere, meaning) is incredibly helpful for our report.

It was my first time writing for a stage medium, and I'm incredibly grateful to work with someone as talented as Charlene. It is invaluable to have a partner who specialises in different skills than I do, such as dance. This allowed Charlene to bring a different perspective from what I would have produced alone. Also having someone who shares the same passion for the project as I do, along with being willing to go the extra mile to bring it to life, was incredibly rewarding. We even had a whole fancy dance number about the five stages of grief! 

My word of advice to aspiring theatre students would be to have faith in your ideas, learn from feedback, and put in the work to ensure the highest quality for your performance. 

Liana, Grade 12

The dramatic duo of Charlene (Left) and Liana (Right) explore dark themes in their performance. For their final piece they handled lighting, sound and costume design themselves. 

Being able to collaborate with my partner Liana in this project was a remarkable experience. Although we had difficulties with managing multiple roles in/behind the performance due to our small team, we were still able to overcome challenges together. It may seem like a disadvantage that we had a limited number of students but it certainly wasn’t, because this way we were able to surpass our working abilities and broaden our room for creativity more than we have ever imagined. 

The feedback we received from students and teachers was extremely useful for evaluating our piece. Even though the feedback session was primarily for completing our written report and evaluating on parts we performed well or could have improved, I was able to take these valuable comments and reflect on how I performed which would be beneficial for future performances. 

My advice for students who are fond of the performing arts and have a growing passion for acting and performance, is to never be afraid to escape your comfort zone, always try something new and exceed our own limits, because this is how we truly learn and grow. Theatre is all about opening yourselves up to opportunities, taking risks on stage, and building self-confidence. Theatre is fun, but also builds necessary and worthwhile skills for life.

Charlene, Grade 12