To view the Dramsoc 2014 photo album, please visit our Facebook page.
From 17 – 20 October, Dramsoc held nightly performances of Dario Fo’s farcical comedy, Accidental Death of an Anarchist. As well as appealing to the sense of humour of College students, alumni, family and friends, Mel McShane’s improvised Australian adaptation of the play conveyed some weighty political and philosophical concerns, leaving the audience members with many unanswered questions.
Rehearsals began in the winter break and were a conglomeration of 10% productivity and 90% ‘creative experimentation’. The conventional ‘basket-case’ nature of student thespians was certainly extended to new heights, yet the diverse group of actors managed to put their heads down and prepare a professional piece.
Mel’s ingenuity in choosing to perform the play outside, with a set constructed almost entirely of stacks of paper, was realised thanks to the patience of Admin and those with rooms overlooking the Bailey. For the most part, fortune favoured the brave, and the cast (and audience) were only inhibited by a light rain-shower on the final night, which ultimately enhanced the experience of all.
Each actor gave his or her special touch. Jock Lehman never failed to squeeze in an impromptu monologue, bringing energy and authenticity to the second-guessing, dopey Inspector Bertozzo. Similarly, Jake ‘Willy Bongka’ Carr played the role of Inspector in the Sports Jacket flawlessly, jumping on sporadic cues and glass eyeballs alike. Millie Ferguson’s feminisation of the role of the Superintendent led to both a (re)ignition of tobacco-addiction as well as an improvement of her throwing arm, and her gift of vertical height, accentuated by her stiletto heels and her contrast with certain ‘shorter’ actors, enhanced her already dominant stage presence. Sylvie Woods added a distinct spark and sass to the role of the Journalist, a tangible product of her determination and unflinching concentration throughout the rehearsal process. Gus Trenerry was equally as captivating, balancing the deep themes of the play with legitimate childlike gestures and truly shining like his moustache hairs after a dress-rehearsal sneeze.
From the perspective of a fResher and truly amateur actor, it is difficult for me to say anything of merit on the topic of Mel McShane’s directing – her experience, professionalism and creative insight will be sorely missed by the College next year. Her dedication to the production, her deep research into the play, and her ability to (semi-) control a reasonably rowdy group of actors is something that the whole cast admires immensely. Mel consistently put the play before her own busy schedule, something that at times included the direction of four different pieces on top of her university studies, and we as a cast could not be more indebted to her.
Mention must also be made of the many other faceless contributors. Oli Harris, as assistant director, ran a very tight ship and was pivotal to the play being performable without scripts! Similarly, Amelia Gilbert devoted an immense amount of time in her role of producer, ensuring the effective marketing of the play as well as interjecting in rehearsals with much-needed morale-boosting snacks. In short, Gilbos is a true stalwart soul of Dramsoc. Ang Collins, aided by a group of volunteering art and design students, was also central to the acquirement of props and costumes, something that at one stage required the sourcing of a fake leg. Angus McPherson’s control of lighting and Henry Hamilton’s job of construction were also very much appreciated, particularly as they were approached at the eleventh hour.
On behalf of the whole team, I would also like to thank the Students’ Club for their generous budget, without which the pioneering outside-play would not have been possible. It is extremely important to continue funding such worthwhile projects, enriching the life of the College and personal relationships equally.
The entire production process was an absolute blast and I would urge all Androvians, both current and future, to try out for next year’s Dramsoc. From goanna-wrestling to paper-plane perfecting, monologue-improvising to renegade-mastering, pretend-rehearsing to actual-performing, I am so glad that I did not have reservations about jumping into a play where the quantity of my lines rivalled that of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Whereas school drama drives you to scrutinise Board of Studies criteria, St Andrew’s drama drives you to Bunnings in search of a funnel, and it is this kind of spontaneity that makes Dramsoc unique.
– Xander Jackman (The Maniac)
Images courtesy of Jess Harper.