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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 14. 1967.

Disastrous year for Drama Club says Bob Lord

Disastrous year for Drama Club says Bob Lord

With one production to come the VUW Drama Club has nearly ended a year which can only be described as disastrous.

It has been a year with two resounding failures—Camus's Cross Purpose and Ibsen's Lady From The Sea, one vague success—Twelfth Night and, among the minor activities, an interesting reading of Oedipus Rex.

Cross Purpose can be excused on the grounds it was under-rehearsed for an amateur cast (three weeks isn't long), and miscast—due to the lack of interested students around in February.

Lady From The Sea can claim some similar exemption —it is apparent that Vic students aren't feeling creative in the second term (remember 1966's The Sport Of My Mad Mother). And, by way of rationalisation, it's a difficult play (whatever that means).

The major production, Twelfth Night, one presumed was to restore the faith of the audience that students can still present theatre of the same standard as the past productions of The Devils and Oedipus Rex.

But the production appeared directionless and de spite some commendable pa formances (particularly from Michael McGhie as Sir Andrew and Terry Baker as Sir Toby) the play wavered and faltered.

One of the most depressing features of the drama club's year was that they sent Lady From The Sea to Arts Festival. Its Wellington season was an abysmal failure, the one performance in Christchurch was worse. Apart from Linda Sacklin's performance the play had nothing to commend it and was an embarrassment for the audience.

All this seems to indicate something of a collapse in the standard of student drama at the university. The one highlight of the year was reading of Oedipus Rex. The forthcoming Christmas Revue will no doubt be its usual, vaguely polished, mini-Extrav, self.

Again seeking some rationalisation it may be that the appearance of Downstage on the Wellington scene has altered the standard of criticism for amateur productions and has also taken away a large part of the audience.

The varsity club, unlike Wellington Rep., Ngaio Revue, and khandallah Arts, has not a large, non-active financial membership which will support lengthy seasons of mediocre productions. It has to compete on merit, which is an expensive premium, with Downstage and the other amateur groups for an audience which I would suggest is the wrong audience.

The point is, is it worth the drama club's while to continue in its present mediocre fashion providing half-produced plays for nouses very much less than half full?

In reviewing Lady From The Sea for Salient, P. Stevens suggested the Drama Club should concern itself more with drama workshops, the intention being to raise the standards of future productions and to discipline students in the fields of acting and production.

Such a unit in the more practical side of theatre would not only complement the literary courses at the university but would hopefully revive some interest in drama at the university and employ the excellent facilities of the Memorial Theatre to a greater extent than at present.

Another point which the Drama Club could concentrate on is working more closely with university departments. Obviously, students cannot present contemporary theatre with the same finesse as Downstage. Equally as obvious is the fact that a large number of plays studied here have never been seen on stage in the city.

Readings and productions of such plays would supplement university courses and have a ready-made audience of students—for whom the Drama Club should be performing.

Instead of aiming at the big success, I would suggest the Drama Club, if it is to have a worthwhile future, should aim at bringing to the students a theatre they are dealing with in academic life and should endeavour to train its members through workshops and discussion groups, and to press for a drama unit under the control of ft person experienced in theatre.