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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 16. August 2, 1939

"The Ascent of F.6"

page 3

"The Ascent of F.6"

"The Ascent of F6." By W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, presented by the Drama Society of the Teachers' Training College on July 13, 1[unclear: ¼], 15, in the Collide Hall.

Wellington has become accustomed to dramatic society efforts which are particularly satisfying to the cast, their friends and relations and the treasurer. They are even sometimes entertaining. Somebody once said that, "if a thing was worth doing it was worth doing badly." Before seeing the play a person with a knowledge of drama must have felt that this was the only attitude which would explain this production. The difficulties are immense. Five types of setting, with variations, in about twelve scenes with numerous insets. Long scenes in verse. A large cast. There can be little doubt that the difficulties would have deterred any other group in Wellington, including the major societies. But the important thing is that the play itself is really worth doing under any circumstances.

A Play of the Future

It is one of the most significant plays of the whole post-war period and, probably more than any other recent play, points the way to the future of drama. To those associated with the production it would have been worth-while even if there had been no audience but, strange to say, there was an audience, a large one and that on each of the three nights. It would still have been worth-while for the audience even if the difficulties had been too much for the players. The fact is that the difficulties were overcome, that audiences came in large numbers and that youthful and in many cases inexperienced actors and actresses succeeded in catching not only the characters but the spirit of the characters and the unity of the play. The credit is due to Mr. W. J. Scott, the producer, who understands modern drama thoroughly, has a keen eye and ear for the really urgent and important things and, above all, has the ability to enthuse others with his Ideas. Without this enthusiasm there would have been no play, no settings and no characters. His stage-manager, Roy Cowan, is a craftsman and the structural settings were a huge job, and the arrangement most effective.

The Cast

Of the cast. John McCreary was fine. This Job would have been difficult for a mature actor. His was the spirit that dominated the play. Personally I felt that his work was assisted tremendously by very skilful work by his supports, particularly Judith Luke, who spoke her lines beautifully: Dennis Feeney, who added much to the final scenes; and Ian McLean, who sustained at a low level a long and difficult scone. This ability to catch the spirit of underplaying was also noticeable with the Doctor and the naturalist. The scenes that were overplayed were also well done by the General and Lord Stagmantle, while Mr. and Mrs. A., who spoke her lines splendidly, also kept the play's feet on the ground. Altogether one could go on raising point after point from each of the characters that was effective. Technically there were several faults that could and should have been avoided.

I am sorry my discussion is so objective but some people cannot see the play for the spotlights but I know that the audience was strongly moved and carried away very deep emotional impressions. I apologise again if in these remarks I have failed to interpret the play and its theme and all it meant.

Of Merit

The Training College has in the past three years produced the three most important plays that have been done in Wellington during this period, Waiting for Lefty. Judgment Day and now F.6. Each has been successful. They have of course more talent in numbers, than any society, they have Ideas, they have enthusiasm and they are ambitious.

This was shooting at stars and it succeeded.

The important thing to remember is, as I have said before, that if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly, and then it may even be a success and then it has been still more worth while.