Bell Shakespeare Incursion and Short Film Festival
Over the last several weeks at MPW, the Creative Arts team have had a busy time with the Bell Shakespeare incursion and the room 14 & 15 Short Film Festival.
This year, the Bell Shakespeare Company performed 2 plays: “The Wonderful World of Will” and a new play “Shakespeare is Dead”. Students from grades one/two, two/three and three/four attended the “Wonderful World of Will” and the 5/6s attended “Shakespeare is Dead.”
Each performance was followed by a lively Q&A session with the 3 players (actors) – Danny Ball, Jessica Paterson and Deborah An.
Our annual Bell Shakespeare performances are extraordinarily popular with our students, with some classes, such as room 6 taking their learning of Shakespeare’s plays even further.
Room 6 students loved the play.
Maisie (room 6) said: In the play the “Wonderful world of Will”, one of the actors went back in time to where Shakespeare lived and worked. The girl who went back in time was asked where she was from and she said Australia and they said I have never heard of it. She went to the globe theatre, that is where Shakespeare writes all of his stories and it is really cool there. And when she was there she met Shakespeare. In the play, the actors spoke the last speech from Puck in Midsummers night’s dream and our grade know those lines so we said it along with the actors. I think the actors got a surprise we knew the lines. We know those lines our grade is going to put that play on later in the year.
What Puck was saying is if you don’t like all what you saw or don’t like the character like Bottom – it is all ok, it was only a dream.
My favourite Shakespeare play is Midsummers night’s dream and Romeo and Juliet. I like those plays because they have romance in them. In our performance in our grade – I am Queen of the Fairies, Titania. She is not that mean she is kind of funny,
I like Shakespeare’s plays because they have death in them, kindness in them, love in them, romance, they have lots of characters and one of my favourite characters is Hamlet. Terrible things happen in that story because he wants to be King. I would really like Bell Shakespeare to come back again, I really have lots to say on his stories.
Noah: I really enjoy the plays from Shakespeare. I’m going to play King Oberon in our play – he has lots of lines to say. I like some of Shakespeare’s other plays Hamlet and Macbeth. I know they are tragedies with death and fighting. I think Hamlet is a bit evil because I think he kills his father. It would be good if the actors came back again.
Isaac: In our play I’m going to be Puck and I get to say the last lines of the play. I like playing Puck because he is the silly, cheeky one in the play, and I am sometimes a little silly. Puck plays lots of tricks. The other play I like is Macbeth because I really like sword fighting.
Imogen: My favourite play is Romeo and Juliet. Juliet dies first, but she only pretends to and the then the boy dies but after the boy dies the girl wakes up. That was sort of sad. In Midsummer night’s dream I play Quince. Rayla plays Bottom and we put on a play for the King and Queen. I think Quince is a bit bossy, he tells people what to do, like the director of the play I think, but he is also in the play. I think Bell Shakespeare should definitely come back again.
Rayla: I’m Bottom in the play he is a bit funny, he is an actor. I really liked the play we saw at school because the actors made it their own play – it was different. I know about Shakespeare’s time because I read books called Horrible Histories that explain stuff like that. Shakespeare is good writer and I think we should learn more about his plays. I really like doing the acting and moving around when we learn it is fun.
After the 2 performances students stayed behind to ask further questions of the Players. (group photo with students)
To our surprise one of the 3 actors turned out to be an ex-student from MPW, taught in prep by Claudia.
Claudia and Sue spoke to Danny after the performances. It was interesting to hear his thoughts about Shakespeare and what he has done to further his education and career since leaving MPW.
Danny Ball – a Player from the Bell Shakespeare company and ex-student from Moonee Ponds West Primary.
I started at Moonee Ponds West primary as a prep and graduated in grade 6 in 2001. I then went to Buckley Park, then I did an Arts degree at University of Melbourne then studied at NIDA. At university I was involved in the drama and theatre clubs. Ever since I was very young I wanted to be an actor.
I was lucky having gone to MPW and then to Buckley Park where I was given lots of opportunities to engage in the arts, and explore that, providing opportunities for me to follow my passion to perform.
One of the main things that I have noticed on this tour and over the last few years with the growth in access to social media, YouTube, Netflix etc is that lots of students have not experienced live performance before. In some places in regional areas, no students have ever attended live performances. That means lots of students do not know how to engage with live performance – not necessarily that they are rude - they actually don’t understand what they are watching and how they become a vital part of the performance. Their involvement is key to the success of the performance but they are not used to engaging with that art form.
The students at MPW are hands down the best primary school we have ever been to. So focused, mature and engaged, the best kids. When we have Q&A at primary schools they often asked questions that are far more interesting and sophisticated than high school students. Some kids asked us if Shakespeare came back now what would he write about in modern day Australia and how would that sound and what would that look like.
It is obviously so important for VCE students studying Macbeth to experience the performances but it is just as important for primary school students to see live performances like ours on Shakespeare and start to develop their own opinions and open that creative door way for them.
I will eventually finish this contract with Bell Shakespeare company and then back to free-lance work and look for the next job. I love Shakespeare and working with Bell, and hopefully will work with them again doing further performances.
Next week we will report on our Short Film.