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All made up: Staff versus Students

Last Friday, our Drama Department went head to head with six of our Year 10 students in the Independent Theatre for our inaugural (and hilarious) Staff versus Students Theatresports Challenge!

There were no scripts, no props, no costumes, no rehearsals and certainly no time to think. Wenona’s inaugural Staff versus Year 10 Students Theatresports Challenge combined the best elements of theatre, comedy and sport as performers created scenes entirely improvised from audience suggestions and prompts from the host, Clare Cavanagh from Impro Australia. This was theatrical improvisation at its best. It was fast-paced and action-packed, with performers relying on their wit and speed to create instant theatre that had the audience bent double with laughter.

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Fronting up for the staff – all decked out in tutus – were Head of Drama Ms Crittle, Drama Teachers, Mr Colyer, Ms Parker and Ms Cookson, and Deputy Principal (Student Wellbeing) and Drama Teacher, Ms Oakley.

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They took on a crack squad of Year 10 students – Chloe, Lauren, Alice, Louisa, Amelie and Aimee – who were decked out as tradies.

Each team had to rely on each other to build stories and scenes out of nowhere. And given there’s no safety net in improvisational theatre, this challenge really put their acting skills to the test. As Ms Crittle said, “Be kind. It’s really, really scary up here.”

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Students were the first to take to the stage. Their challenge? Selling a warm fridge. This was followed by the staff wending their way through an enchanted forest. Then the students had to perform the impossibly titled ‘Octopus in a Frat House: The Musical’. For most of the audience, singing a song onstage would be bad enough, never mind making up your own lyrics and dance routines on the spot, but the students made it look easy, with their on-the-spot riffs and spontaneous choruses!

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There was emotional replay, where staff had to re-enact the same scene – finding a wedding dress in an attic – using no emotion, then using fear and joy. There was ‘stunt doubles’ were students travelled into space, working just-about-in-sync as they planted the American flag on the moon on behalf of the ‘great orange man’. And then there was the impossible game where staff had to choose a number between 1 and 20 and were only allowed to use that amount of words when they spoke… luckily Ms Oakley chose 2. Not so great for Ms Parker who chose 16!

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The synergy of both teams was staggering as they sang songs they’d made up on the spot, completed each other’s sentences and found satisfying rhymes to bizarre words. It was a bit like watching a highwire act, with the audience wobbling the wire every round in order to put the performers into new and more precarious situations to see what they would do.

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The challenge culminated with an exuberant foray into Shakespeare and… The Tragedy of Samantha. Both staff and students acted this out together, drawing on the language and narrative beats of the Bard – lots of haths, hasts, harks and hences – to create that familiar Shakespearean feel.

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Bravo to all the performers – you were amazing! And a huge congratulations to the Year 10 students who narrowly pipped the staff at the post by just one and a half points.