School Kaleidoscope 2008 Term 2
News from Term 2, 2008
Alia's 10th year has got off to a great start! A warm welcome to all our new students and their families. Term I was short, due to an early Easter; however, we managed to get quite a lot of work accomplished due to the fact that we started a bit earlier than most other schools. We would be interested to get feedback on how you felt about starting school a week earlier.
Next year we will be celebrating our 10th birthday, so now would be a good time for Alians to start thinking about how they would like to recognise this event. Bob
ALL THE SCHOOL'S A STAGE - ARTS ALIVE AT ALIA
On 18 June, a capacity audience attended Alia's mid-year Arts Night. It was the most successful exhibition so far.
For the first time, the evening included student films, the fruit of the introduction of VCE Media Studies which Scott Pearce is teaching this year. Each of the three short films portrayed their themes with gothic intensity: the content was a familiar mixture of monsters, murder, and masochism. However, the filmic qualities were startlingly varied.
Sam Hamilton's I've Been Waiting for You was a Hitchcockian suspense-thriller in which the iconic homicide-in-the-shower scene was only one of several murders and maimings!
Tash Castro-Parry's I Love You was a multi-layered fantasy involving puppets which provided ironic comments on the feelings of the forlorn central character trapped in a love triangle.
Ball, by Ben Morgan, skilfully recreated the texture, tone and pace of a silent movie. Rather like the red balloon in the eponymous French film, a tennis ball bounced around the school, leading the entranced characters into serious scatological trouble. The actors revealed Buster Keatonesque stoicism in the face of quite outrageous circumstances and accelerating mayhem.
The audience responded to all three films with great enthusiasm, touched with warm indulgence for the adolescent preoccupations so powerfully represented.
The music was also drawn from the enthusiasms of the students, ably supported by David Schenkel. Various groups, large and small, performed with élan. It was mostly rock music, featuring an original composition by Michael Seamark and Michael Bradley and well-known songs by groups like Queen and The Dandy Warhols.
The music was not predictable, however, and apart from the potent energies of all the players, there were startling riffs and sweet harmonies which emerged among the relentless pulse of the electric guitars. And Mapansin, a haunting Filipino song, beautifully sung by Ericka Dela Fuente, brought the house down.
There were five short drama pieces presented by students from all levels of the school.
1. techno-wizardry (Submodality)
2. vaudeville (All Your Pie)
3. theatre of the absurd (Jabberwocky)
4. a fluro-lit fantasy (Dead Rising), and
5. Edgar Allen Poe's twist on a folk tale (The Raven).
The wonderful variety of themes and the self-assurance of the players reflect the flourishing of drama at Alia in the last two years, thanks to Cara and Sarah and the zest and imagination of the students.
The silent partner to the live performances was the exhibition of paintings, drawings and photographs.
Once again, Sheena's art students have produced a vibrant collection of pictures; visitors paused between performances to take in some of the striking images represented.
Apart from the generous reception by the large group of Alia's parents and friends, the evening was notable for another reason: all the students, whether as performers or audience, were strongly committed to each other and to their creative work.
This collective spirit is an elusive quality, but its presence was apparent at almost every moment in the evening. It was an exciting night which carried the promise of even greater things to come.
At the end of May, the Theatre Studies group, augmented by numerous extras, presented Everyman in four performances.
It has often been observed that human beings need to play with a space before they feel it belongs to them. Alia's recent production of Everyman was set in several spaces around the school - the front porch, the foyer, the art room and the ballroom. As Everyman journeyed through life, the players transported their audience around the school. At every turn, the different settings altered the dynamic possibilities of the drama, creating varying opportunities for the actors and framing the drama in new perspectives.
Like John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, this well-known mediaeval morality play traces the journey of Everyman, though the temptations and pitfalls of life, to a wise maturity which recognises the moral necessity of good deeds and ultimately to grace and salvation.
To a twenty-first century audience, the play in its original version risks seeming obsolete and barely intelligible, or perhaps just quaint, so Sarah Collins took on the brave task of modernising some of the references and language. The integration of archaic and modern language is no easy matter, but Sarah Collins' text successfully weaves the decorous elaborations of the original verse together with the raw energies of contemporary youth-speak.
O wretched Caitiff, whither shall I flee,
That I might 'scape this endless sorrow?
Now, gentle Death, spare me till tomorrow,
That I may amend me with good advisement.
No! I will not consent,
Nor no man will I respite.
But to the heart suddenly I shall smite
Without any advisement.
Now I have to find friends to help me on this
And also, my writing isn't ready.
What excuse do I have?
I wish I'd never been born;
For now I fear pains huge and great.
It's gonna hurt.
The combination was reinforced by the players who switched seamlessly back and forth from byzantine flourish to the slick and languid movements of Australian youth. The transitions and the pacing were brilliantly controlled.
The action never faltered and the actors sustained a composure that contained elements of Brecht, Becket and Commedia del'arte within a triumphant post-modern concoction.
It would be invidious to single out individual performances from this tightly integrated ensemble, but the inventiveness and the energy had been well focused by Ben's skilful direction and Sarah Whitwam's guiding hand.
ALIA JUNIORS AND THE SUSTAINABLE HOME
This semester the Juniors at Alia were chosen to be part of The Sustainables Household Challenge.
In this project they have been learning how through individual actions we can make a difference to the ongoing care of our environment.
This project involved the Juniors as part of a Monash University think-tank, gathering video footage, photographic evidence and conducting interviews about Alia's approach to sustainability.
The Sustainables Troupe came to perform as well and the Juniors had the opportunity to prepare, perform and entertain the other students and the actors with their own advertisements.
The initiative will be part of an ongoing approach to sustainability around Alia. Here are the ten good ideas promoted by The Sustainables Household Challenge:
1. Take four-minute power showers, instead of the average seven minutes
2. Avoid plastic bags, and take re-usable bags shopping
3. Turn off lights and appliances when you don't need them
4. Switch to Green Power by calling your electricity retailer
5. Choose efficient appliances
6. Put your food and plant scraps in a worm farm or the compost
7. Avoid unnecessary packaging
8. Walk, cycle or use public transport - and leave the car at home
9. Grow plants native to your area
10. Go chemical-free when you clean - and use low salt soap and detergent.
The Household Challenge is an initiative of Victoria's Environmental Sustainability Framework, which is available at www.dse.vic.gov.au
YOUNG LEADERS PROGRAM
This year Nick (Yr 10) attended the annual Young Leaders Program run by City of Boroondara Youth Services. The week long program was an opportunity for a group of around thirty Year 10 students from different schools in Boroondara to learn more about leadership: communication skills, public-speaking, leadership styles and working successfully in a group.
The program culminated with a presentation in the evening of the programs final day to the families and friends of the students. Bob, Kirsty and Antonia attended the presentation.
Nick's main duty for the night was to manage the sound desk. He was also one of five students selected by his peers to deliver his speech of his personal experience of the program. Nick's speech was very insightful and heartfelt.
JAPANESE - Yuri Yoshida
As the German students headed off to the Hoffbrau House, the Japanese group set off for the Immigration Museum.
They investigated the Japanese artefacts and had great fun trying on old silk kimonos.
Later, after a brief stop at a sushi shop, the group attended the Japanese Consulate General and listened to a talk about modern Japan.
Thank you in anticipation to the families who will host students from Okayama in Japan.
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