Spotlight on the Arts

By Kimberley Fridd, Bryn Jones, & Bruce James | Posted: Tuesday October 23, 2018

Delve deeper into the departments of drama, visual art, and music and discover what makes these departments tick.

In this feature article, we put the spotlight on the various arts departments at McGlashan and get to know who runs them with our segment 'Five Quick Questions', as well as finding what their classes have been up to in 2018.

Drama 

This year we have drama across year levels from 7-12 (with Film in Year 10). The drama room has been a creative hive of activity all year. Some of the units junior students have been involved with in 2018 have included:

  • Mime work - focussing on the work of legendary  director and actor Charlie Chaplin
  • Greek Theatre 
  • Heroes - a look at heroes in the community and fictional superheroes
  • Rituals - Māori Myths 
  • Lip-Sync
  • Short films  - filmmaking
  • Shooting a news package  focusing on a story from the McGlashan community

Senior students at NCEA levels 1 and 2 have spent the year focussing on Pasifika Theatre (a sub-genre of New Zealand Theatre) and in particular the works of playwright Oscar Kightley. They have also produced devised work, focussing on the closure of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and what it has meant for Dunedin. Senior devised performance work is always a highlight every year. Some groups performed their pieces upstairs in the foyer in the ELC building, while others chose to perform downstairs in the drama room, against the new black curtain (which was installed earlier in the year). The audience was treated to a creative night of performances and we look forward to seeing what these students bring us next year.  

Some of the other highlights over the year have included our Theatresports programme (which is as strong as ever), our entry of 'Hamlet' into the Otago Regional Final of the Otago University Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare, and our NZ Theatre Month celebration 'Whakahari Whakaari'. 

Five quick questions with Ms Fridd

1. What's the most rewarding thing about taking an arts subject? For students, the most rewarding thing about taking an arts subject is the opportunity to use and grow the 21st Century Learning skills of creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Arts subjects provide the opportunity to use transferable skills in lots of different careers - not just in pure arts-based jobs.  I also love how drama can let you see the world through someone else's prospective - when playing different characters. 
2. How involved were you in the arts when you were at school? Very involved!  I joined my school's premiere choir 'Dunstanza' in its beginning year and was also a member of the combined choir. With Dunstanza, I got to travel to Sydney Australia to compete in the MusicFest Out West choral competition. I took formal singing and piano lessons right throughout primary and secondary school and was an active member of my music and performing arts classes. I was also a lead or company member in five major productions (musicals) while at secondary school and a company member of a couple of major town musicals as well. 
3. Depending on your discipline, which artist (living or dead) would you most like to meet and why? So many to choose from but at the moment it would have to be Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lin-Manuel is a composer, lyricist, playwright, rapper, and actor - and is responsible for such hit musicals as 'Hamilton' and 'In the Heights'.  I really admire his creative work and performance style. He seems like a really cool guy, so would love to meet him. 
4. What's the best concert, art exhibition, or performance you've ever seen and why? Tough question! It would be a toss-up between two shows I saw in 2010 when we were living in Canada. I saw Green Day's musical 'American Idiot' on Broadway in New York City - with its original Broadway cast, and I also saw the legendary actor, Christopher Plummer, in Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' in Stratford Ontario. 'American Idiot' just blew my mind - it was phenomenal.  Getting to see Plummer on stage in 'The Tempest' in one of the biggest Shakespeare Festivals outside of England, was also a very special experience.  
5. What's the last book you read? 'Slow' by Brooke McAlary. It's an inspirational guide on creating a life filled with the things that really matter. A great intro to a more mindful-living lifestyle.

Visual Art

The highlight this year has to be the completion and installation of the bronze sculpture 'Entry' outside the front of the Chapel. I believe the support for the creation of this sculpture speaks volumes about the high regard this school community holds for visual art in our past, present and future history. 

Other highlights this year have come from the huge effort the students from all levels have put into producing outstanding pieces of work. Nick Guilford from Year 13 exemplifies this effort, he is the first student I have taught who has worked with such a high degree of passion. This enabled him to complete his Level 3 painting portfolio by the end of Term 2. Nick has gone onto complete Scholarship Painting and Level 3 Photography this year.

There are a number of Level 2 students who have submitted for two externals which always requires serious extra effort, I am sure they will be justly rewarded for this commitment.
Level 1 students have also put in a great effort over the year and there a number of these students who are already making decisions about studying at Massey University in Industrial Design as a career.

The Year 9 groups we have taught this year have to be mentioned as an outstanding group of students for their commitment to work, their genuine interest in the subject which covers both art history and practical art and their general positive and polite attitude, they will no doubt carry on to be a bumper crop of students throughout the college. 

Five quick questions with Mr Jones

1. What's the most rewarding thing about taking an arts subject?  Having the time and space to think about your own ideas and the opportunity to learn how to develop those ideas into visual artworks. 
2. How involved were you in the arts when you were at school? Along with English, it was the only subject I was interested in. I would spend hours in the Art room with Mr Gillies my art teacher, he became a good friend after I left school and I still have contact with him today. 
3. Depending on your discipline, which artist (living or dead) would you most like to meet and why? Rodin. He was pivotal in the development of what sculpture can be and I have always marvelled at his work. The first time I saw “The Age of Bronze” sculpture was for me better than seeing the Eiffel tower for the first time.
4. What's the best concert, art exhibition, or performance you've ever seen and why? Best concert was David Bowie’s “Serious Moonlight “ tour in Wellington in 1983, I rode my Triumph motorbike up from Ashburton with my girlfriend on the back, great trip, awesome concert and very memorable.
The best exhibition is one I have just been to, the indoor sculpture show at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Sydney.
5. What's the last book you read? “The Beach” by Alex Garland. 

Music 

Our last term was flat out with all sorts of cultural activities, we have a more than a dozen boys involved in the St Hilda’s and Columba Productions. Practices had been held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and I know first hand how much time goes into making these things look good.

We had band groups entered for BandQuest (Year 7 and 8 bands) which happened in August, thanks to Brad for his hard work all year with these boys getting things to performance standard. Unfortunately, they missed out on the spoils but played very well on the night.

As the Chairperson for the Otago Secondary Schools Music Festival committee, it was a busy time putting together the combined schools' performance that happened in mid-September. Rehearsal day was held at JMC this year and the Gala Concert went very well and we raised a lot of money, from donations, to go towards secondary school music in Otago. It was a great night and the boys that were involved really enjoyed themselves.

Many boys also gave of their time to perform at the school fete and I had a lot of comments about the quality of the performances.

This term tends to be no quieter as we build towards prize-giving performances and Year 10 Arts Week later in the term.

Music continues to be strong at McGlashan and over the last 18 years I have seen and taught some very capable musicians. Some who have gone on to make a living out of their passion, as I have to this point. There is something really special in the culture at McGlashan that means that so many boys have the opportunity to partake in the arts. Your boys are blessed to have such a wonderful place to come to and to learn off some of the best in the business. Long may it continue.  

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