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St Augustine’s Digital Theatre going Winners

One of the most upsetting aspects of the last 18 months for the Drama Department has been the fact that we had to stop going to see live theatre. As a way of trying to compensate for this, we were very lucky to be able to access some funding to subscribe to Digital Theatre Plus, an online resource that opened up hundreds of productions for our entire student body. To launch this resource, we asked all of the students in Key Stage Three to find a production that they were interested in and write a response to it, and we are delighted to present to you the three winners:

Our Year Seven Winner, Maryam Hossein from E7, clearly connected with the humour and edge that Beautiful Thing, by Jonathan Harvey offered in a production that looks at two young men living on an estate in south London, who fall in love and have to come out to their families and friends.

This is a really enjoyable production. Not only the fact that I REALLY love comedies, but it also shows the contrast between the characters: Leah, a girl that recently got excluded from school who, at the beginning, doesn’t really care about her life, thinking that she has already failed but then later finds out that there is more to enjoy in life. However, Leah does get on my nerves because of the way she speaks to people, how she treats them and her mood.

Sandra: the mum who has got divorced and looks like she has given up on her kids and doesn’t focus on them as much.

Jamie (the son of Sandra) is kind of like a brother to Leah and they have a love/hate relationship with each other.

Ste: the guy who is actually doing decently in school. He is a good friend of Jamie, Sandra and Leah’s.
There is also Tony, a guy who seems to have interest in Sandra and is trying to capture Sandra’s attention. Sure, he embarrasses himself a couple of times but that’s something you have to do to get a girl’s heart.
At the end of the production, they have a little dance. Not like a disco dance but a calm prom dance. This is the part when everyone confesses their feelings for one another. I especially like this part because it’s a heart-warming scene. Jamie and Ste confess their feelings for each other which then lets the audience know that they are gay. Sandra is confused and shocked but accepts it. Leah then cheers Sandra up by hugging her. Although it seemed like a dysfunctional family at first, as the production went on, they started to come closer together like a family.

Would definitely give this production 5/5 stars!

Kevin Nunes from C8 was our Year Eight winner, choosing a production a world away from Beautiful Thing, in Billy the Kid, the story of a man in his eighties who lost his place in a football team when he went off to fight in World War 2 and his grandson, a young, talented footballer, just signed up to Chelsea. Here’s some of what he had to say about it:

This story of the play is told from the perspective of an old man who was once known as “Billy the Kid”, a football star. This is set in the 1940s when the Second World War is taking place.

The production made me laugh- especially when Bill’s friend was saying random Italian related words such as “tomayto, tomahto, Raphael , Michangelo , mocho choco latte” . None of these words were relevant to the story apart from the fact they were in an Italian war camp but were still quite funny. Another part that amused me was when Billy and Fernando were singing about Hitler having only two balls and they are very small!

The part that made me a bit excited was when tanks could be heard in the distance. This gave me a sense that something big was going to happen in the production that would affect the characters which it then did.
In my opinion, this production is an interesting, somewhat educational experience as it tells of real viewpoints of men in the war. As for the actors, Dudley Sutton had excellent mime and gesture skills as Billy, and he clearly persisted through-out his role as the main character.

Our last, hugely impressive winner was Sham Naim from C9. Her production of choice was The Woodsman, an eerily magical take on the story of the Tinman from The Wizard of Oz told in a physical theatre style because words are dangerous in this world ruled by The Witch. Here are some of her thoughts:
This is an emotional piece of art which captures your heart through its enactment.

Most of this production is mimed, a fact I greatly enjoyed and thought added a lot more character to the play than if it had been spoken. Because there are no words, the sound effects are a very prominent and important part of it, added where there might’ve been words. I thought the use of these exaggerated sounds heightened the emotions felt by the audience, making the characters more primal and animalistic in how they felt, therefore, making the watcher feel like everything felt is natural and did not warrant an explanation.

There was no second-guessing whether the emotions the character felt could be wrong, the simplicity and directness of the sounds capturing the audience and investing them in what was happening.

Words only appeared at a few points, one I was not keen on: This is the scene in which the woman calls out in desperation ‘PLEASE,’ I did not think was necessary and while watching, wished it hadn’t happened. Feeling as though I had been taken out of the theatre quite suddenly, it was a dislocation I did not think fitted. A better job of her desperation I thought would’ve been portrayed through her physical acting and music.

Another use of words being used happened near the end, at a sort of turning point in the production, a crossroad of sorts. ‘I’ll waste my life an empty can,’ these words in song I think portrayed this perfectly, the inner dialogue and battle occurring in the tin man projected into song. This I think wouldn’t’ve worked as well without words. The voice of the singer also added to the atmosphere, blending in as though it was coming from the walls, there was no doubt that it belonged at that moment.

The witch in this production was played by a puppet, which was controlled by puppeteers that could be seen on stage. I think the puppet was a great choice for the witch as it enabled the character to have actions that better fitted the scene and added to the atmosphere, making her a bigger and more menacing presence. For example, she was able to fly above everyone’s head which otherwise would not have been possible. This added to her unnatural aura by making her unnatural (a puppet) allowing her to fit into what her character was described as in the book and how a witch would be expected to act. this would not otherwise have been possible if a person was acting the character, the movement would’ve been less eccentric!

The tin man was also played by a puppet developing throughout part of the play from a single puppet arm to a full-sized puppet, also controlled on stage. The choice on who to control the puppet was a smart choice, with it being the character playing the huntsman. Although there was more than one puppeteer, with the help of lighting, the huntsman was in the spotlight with the tin-man and brought to attention. I thought this added to the character of the tin man/huntsman by showing an inner battle of emotion and control; the huntsman trapped behind the tin man trying to break free but ultimately failing.
One scene, in particular, shows clearly how magical the lighting in the production was when the woman’s aura was transported to the lying tin man through a blue light. The blue light was small but bright, taking over the scene with elegance, and even though an actor could quite easily be seen controlling it, my attention was on nothing but the light.

It has been lovely witnessing the passion that these young Augustinians have for what they watched - I can’t wait to see this passion on show when we finally make our way back into actual theatrical spaces again.

Mr Canning