Our Year 13 Drama students were very fortunate to be able to use the Dunedin Slice of Life exhibition at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum for their major devising work during term three.
For their assessment activity, students devised and performed a drama based on their exploration of the local museum exhibition, which highlights the world-renowned Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study. They didn’t necessarily have to come up with ideas based on the study but used the space and time periods as a starting point for ideas to shape and structure into a creative, innovative, and highly original performance piece.
The devised drama could be presented as a monologue or group performance, and most students (except one group of three), performed as solo performers. They were judged on the effectiveness with which they realised their concept through their devised drama.
In producing their devised drama, students first visited Toitu at the beginning of the term, to collect stories and ideas about the Slice of Life exhibition and viewed the different spaces on offer. They then spent the remainder of the term workshopping and shaping ideas back in their drama classroom, using different drama exercises. They returned to the Toitu space to revisit the exhibition space near the end of the term, to see if their devising framework in class would fit the exhibition spaces they had chosen to work with. At the end of the term, students visited the Toitu exhibition once more, to perform their devised pieces in the actual exhibition space, which was open to the public.
A range of ideas and concepts were developed using the different spaces on offer, which included the 70’s lounge, 80’s bedroom, 90’s bedroom, and early 2000’s lounge. The performance concepts the students came up with included:
Exploring the concept of how technology development affects teenagers and older generations lives - using the 2000’s lounge space
Exploring the concept of how the lives of African American youth changed after the end of the Civil rights movement of the 1960s and also how racism changed in this period - using the 70’s lounge
Exploring the concept of isolation and the importance of communities, using the situation of the Aramoana Massacre in 1990 - set the 90’s bedroom space
Exploring the concept of how technology has impacted the social aspect of interactions between families. As a group of three performers, they wanted their audience to understand how disconnected as a society we have become to the outside world because of the amount of technology that is available to us at present - using the 70’s lounge, 80’s bedroom, 90’s bedroom, and early 2000’s lounge spaces
Exploring the concept of role models. They wanted their audience to think about how role-models can affect teenagers’ behaviour, attitudes and self-worth - using the 80’s bedroom space
Exploring the concept of the testimony of drug culture and its impacts of isolation on a vulnerable mind - using the 90’s bedroom space
Exploring the concept of age resulting in a loss of independence - using the early 2000’s lounge space
All in all, this was a very worthwhile experience and students felt very fortunate to be given a chance to perform in such a unique museum space. We thank Toitu for this awesome opportunity and look forward to more like this in the future.