With an increasing focus on Drama studies at Rehoboth in recent years it seemed high time that our students were exposed to the wonder of a live professional performance. However, rather than tackle the logistics of taking over 130 students to the theatre, we were fortunate enough to be able to get the theatre to come to us with The New Zealand Playhouse touring production of Oscar Wilde’s classic Victorian melodrama, The Importance of Being Earnest. This has long been a favourite of Upper School Literature studies, but seeing a fresh adaptation by some very talented performers made it more enjoyable than ever and opened it up to a whole new audience with students from Years 9 and 10 also invited to watch.
The troop consisted of just three actors who not only took multiple parts, but very skilfully manipulated three hilarious muppet-style puppets, to take on other roles. The audience were impeccably behaved and totally engaged from the beginning, enjoying the addition of a few songs and some updated cultural references which were woven in with Wilde’s most well-known and much loved lines.
Some students were amazed at how – by simply changing a hat, a stance, a vocal mannerism, or a facial expression – actors were able to morph seamlessly from one character to another, whilst others were simply astounded at how they managed to learn all their lines! Despite being first staged over 120 years ago, Wilde’s satirical poke at the hypocrisy of the British upper classes came across as fresh, funny, and thoroughly entertaining, and staff and students who were lucky enough to see the play all left grinning from ear to ear. In short, this performance proved to be a great way to inspire students in both their acting and appreciation of Drama.