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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 7. June 11, 1947

Dramatic Revival Among College Groups

Dramatic Revival Among College Groups

Vigorous dramatic activity has not been noticeable at VUC, in recent years at least. There have been the annual Extravaganzas as an outlet for latent exhibitionism among the students. The "legitimate theatre," however, presumably represented by the Drama Club, has a history of constant but too often abortive struggles. "Anna Christie" and ."Mr. Bolfrey" were the chief highlights in the dreary story of attempted productions and poorly attended play evenings in the past three years. In August of last year, "Ghosts" strutted the inadequate boards of the Gymnasium stage and last March the Drama Club put on Noel Coward's "Private Lives." Nevertheless, students with outstanding dramatic talent have tended to find outlet in other Wellington societies. We began to wonder whether apathy to this play-acting business was a permanent characteristic of Victoria students.

A sudden revolution in dramatic outlook, however, seems to have occurred. The revival is not confined to the Drama Club; it is seen in the recent activities of other College classes and societies.

Sam Williams, the Thomas a Beckett of "Murder in the Cathedral" is producing for our Drama Club "The Infernal Machine" by Jean Cocteau. We know Mr. Williams as the artist whose stage designs for costumes and sets were exhibited at the Public Library recently; he has experience and a distinguished reputation as a producer behind him and VUC can count itself exceedingly fortunate. Moreover, Maria Dronke will be giving her assistance to the production. The play itself promises to be the most workmanlike and interesting choice of the Club for some time.

The cast includes the most able of our student actors. Frances Mulrennan will play Jocasta and Dorian Saker has the part of Oedipus. We may wait with eagerness to see the play near the end of this term.

Meanwhile the Drama Club will be holding a one-act play evening. The casting meeting for this and 'The Infernal Machine" secured an attendance of fifty people instead of the half-dozen we used to expect. We understand that three plays are to be presented in an evening. Such plays are an ideal field for the amateurs and the over-modest to gain experience, as well as an opportunity for actors who cannot give their time for rehearsals over a long period demanded by the major production.

English Class Plays

Drama as studied by the English classes of the college has ceased to be a matter of mere library reading. The English Class read Synge's "Well of the Saints" as a set book; the play was read in the lower Gym on a Friday evening, produced by Marget McKenzie. Only a score of people unfortunately formed the audience, but more people can reasonably be expected to attend future attempts of this kind. The advanced English classes are at present putting on Shakespeare's "King Lear" with John McCreary and Edith Campion among the cast and Dick Campion as the Producer. These play readings do not aim at the polish of well-rehearsed productions but they seem to us to be the only adequate way to gain a full appreciation of dramatic texts. The English classes should not be slow to realise the value of more such readings and to support them whole-heartedly as audiences and actors.

and Other Clubs

The Literary Society formed this year includes play reading among its activities. Elizabeth Millward is convenor of the play reading group; they have spent a highly successful night reading Marlowe's "Edward II" and are now taking a Sunday afternoon and evening over another Elizabethan Play, Forde's "Tis Pity she's a Whore." Another Literary Society group dealing with prose of the 1940's plans to read a play by Jean-Paul Sartre, "In Camera," which has as its theme a highly interesting and controversial philosophy. This reading will take place, probably in the Music Room, in the near future.

Not all students need limit themselves to the English language or translations. The VUC French Club has started its career by doing a small play, and further play readings and productions of French plays by students are intended during the year. Then there is the annual VUC production presented at the Wellington Cercle Francais. This year "Le Barbier de Seville" by Beaumarchais will be the major production, produced by Frankie Huntington.

Rehearsals of any kind in the lower Gym usually take place under certain difficulties. On a recent Tuesday evening the soccer club was running about energetically up above with a ball; the Swords Club was indulging in Dumas-esque poses as they clashed steels down below, and a number of gentlemen were holding a mysterious conversation at the back of the stage itself. The Exec. was in session; "Salient" room was the usual den of furious and vociferous activity. In the midst of this stimulating University environment the cast of "King Lear" were attempting to throw themselves into their parts—"Howl, howl, howl; Oh, you are men of stone."

The student world then is becoming dramatically minded. May the revival flourish. Who knows—This outburst of talent may produce next year the Extravaganza that Wellington citvns will never forget—or is this type of dramatic art on another plane?