Senior Drama Teacher at ACG Parnell College, Adam Fresco, has recently guided his AS-Level drama students through the live performance aspect of their course and shares his thoughts on this exciting and occasionally nail-biting time.
“With 50 per cent of each AS-Level drama grade based on live performance, our students created two exceptionally high-quality shows which were filmed and sent to Cambridge for assessment. Audiences were dazzled with their electrifying performances, stunning expressionistic lighting, and dynamic sound effects.
“The students presented a double-bill, starting with their devised show – a production written, directed, and created entirely by the students themselves. Entitled ‘Snow’ and inspired by Louis MacNeice’s poem of the same name, this short play dealt with the most vivid experiences and memories of drama students Mia Hooton, Paco Li, Tommy Norenbergs, Elizabeth Shi, Ocean Tian, and Dominic Young.
“Following the staging of Snow, students had just two minutes to make the change for their second performance of Dr Faustus. Along with stage managers Isabella Xia and Jiaxin Yan, the cast completed a whirlwind set, costume, and make-up transformation.
“Written by Christopher Marlowe (a contemporary of Shakespeare), ‘The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus’, is thought to have been written in 1592 and first performed in 1594.
“In presenting Marlowe’s tale of a learned doctor who bargains to sell his soul to Lucifer, in exchange for worldly power and knowledge, it was essential to make this sixteenth-century play as relevant, accessible, and understandable as possible. So, we gave it a distinctly modern spin without changing a single word of Marlowe’s original text.
“Mia, playing Dr Faustus, says, ‘The number of lines to learn, the poetic, heightened, old English language - and the fact that these are not so much characters as ideas being played out on stage -made this a hugely challenging play. But it was extremely satisfying for me as an actor and for the whole cast. We learned through experience what an ensemble is all about. It’s a real group effort with no stars, and we are each central to the show’s success.’
“Dominic, playing Lucifer’s right-hand demon Mephistopheles, particularly enjoyed his character, explaining, ‘Mephistopheles is not so much evil as a guy doing his job. His job just happens to be collecting souls for Hell. He’s part second-hand car dealer, part sly seducer, and he’s got a literally wicked sense of humour too!’
“Additionally, Tommy featured as the Good Angel, Paco as Lucifer, while Elizabeth and Ocean starred as The Chorus. With all cast members tackling several different roles, including the Seven Deadly Sins.
“Confirms Paco, ‘We all got to perform as these huge characters, portraying everything from greed to laziness. Bringing the Seven Deadly Sins to life was a lot of fun as we found ways to bring the ideas of the sins to life on stage.’
“Lighting and sound operator Eli Le Fevre added, ‘It’s not often a director asks you to go over the top, but Mr Fresco wanted to make this a show with a stark visual palette to mirror the moral dilemma being played out.’
“The result? Two vastly different but hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking plays, and six superbly realised performances by AS-Level drama students, making watching this particular examination a thrilling experience for all.”
As of January 2022, ACG Parnell College will be offering the Cambridge curriculum's full two-year A-Level drama course. It will combine our current AS-Level paper with the addition of A-Level drama studies. For more information, please contact Mr Adam Fresco at firstname.lastname@example.org