Standing Ovation for House Drama Competition

As English actor Kenneth Haigh once said, “You need three things in the theatre – the play, the actors, and the audience, and each must give something.”

Well, we can confirm that each of these three things certainly gave something at this week’s House Drama Competition! It was a fabulous night of entertainment, full of fun, friendship, and fantasy.

We sat down with Emily Hunt, House Drama Competition Coordinator, to talk more in-depth about the night.

What is the aim of the House Drama Competition?

The aim of the House Drama Competition is to reinforce a strong sense of House spirit through the art of creating and performing. This competition encourages students to collaborate with their peers and make strong connections with students in other year groups. The competition also provides leadership opportunities for students in Years 10 – 11, where they can develop their skills in the areas of organisation, critical thinking, and collaboration. Overall, the students who participated grew in confidence as they produced high-quality drama performances they could be proud of.

How was the competition structured differently this year compared to previous years? 

The annual House Drama Competition is a highly anticipated event on the McAuley Shield calendar. Traditionally House Drama is a Theatre Sports competition. However, this year our competition had a new format. Each of the eight Houses was led by Years 10 and 11 students who undertook the leadership roles of directors and producers. These leaders did everything from writing the scripts, allocating acting roles, designing the sound and lighting, and running rehearsals. This work culminated in a five-minute performance using the following guidelines:

  • Props: Knitting needles, hand sanitiser, and duct tape
  • Set: Theatre blocks, one desk, and two chairs
  • Dialogue: “I can tell by your silence that something is terribly wrong”
  • Location: Train and artist’s studio
  • Costume: Theatre blacks with token costumes
  • Lighting: Five lighting cues
  • Sound: Five sound cues

For each House, the cast was made up of students from Years 7 – 11. They rehearsed during Pastoral Care Time, recess and lunch. Every student who participated showed commitment to their House and worked very hard.

Byrne House, the winner of this year's competition

How was the competition judged?

The competition was externally adjudicated. Each performance was marked on the following criteria: suitability of the play, performers, direction, and the use of design and technical elements. We were so fortunate to have experienced drama specialists attend and adjudicate.  Our adjudicators were Natalie Diggins from Mount Lawley Senior High School and Jaime Illichmann from Penrhos College.

What were the final placings?

  1. Byrne
  2. Dillon
  3. Corbett

Places 4 – 8 will be announced at the final assembly on the last day of Term 4.

What was the most rewarding part about this whole experience for you personally?

The most rewarding part was seeing the students’ work progress from the planning stages to the stage. I also loved seeing the students’ sense of pride in their work and the pure joy they had working within their House, especially across all year levels. This new competition has been in development for the last year. I am very grateful that it was a success and that the Santa Maria community supported this new initiative.

I would like to thank Danielle Spark, Director of Pastoral Care, and the House Coordinators for their support in re-framing the House Drama Competition. Thank you to Jessica Wynn, Acting Head of Dance and Drama, and Kathy La Brooy for their time and creativity. Thank you to Michelle Hunt for all her administration work and dedication and Gaby Gavranic for all her assistance. Lastly, thank you to the parents for your continued support of the students in their dramatic endeavours.

Here is what some of our students had to say about the experience:

As this was one of the first events in my role as the Performing Arts Captain, I was super excited that I was able to play a part in the night as the MC.  As I announced each House to the stage I was so impressed by the effort and quality of the performances. With such limited time, each group created unique and interesting ideas which they worked hard on.

If I had to take something away from the competition it would be that the most important thing is to have fun. Everyone involved seemed to have an amazing time performing and working with each other.

The highlight of the evening would have to be watching the girls as they left the stage and all the smiling faces I saw. The silent cheering and high fives they gave each other and the overall positive group atmosphere from everyone was really special to see. I loved being a part of this process because I was able to watch the unique ideas each group had planned being brought to life. I loved the connection both older year groups and younger ones shared and the ability to work as a team. Overall, the night was very entertaining and enjoyable for both the performers and the audience. Jessica Stewart, Performing Arts Captain

2023 Performing Arts Captain, Jessica Stewart

By participating in this competition, I extended my drama skills and developed teamwork skills. I was also able to engage with other years, and it was amazing watching our performance come together. I loved the House spirit created within our O’Reilly team and really appreciated making connections with girls from the younger years. Madison Pino, Year 10

When performing House Drama, l learned that there are many ways to showcase everyone’s individual talents. For example, Kelly’s directors included someone’s flexibility to play an ex-circus performer. The highlight of the whole night was right before we went on the play. Everyone was very excited and nervous to take to the stage! I also liked the new way we competed, where we had the script written and used everyone’s individual talents and skills. Lily Sprigg, Year 9

Thank you for taking the time to sit down and chat with us, Emily! Congratulations to all involved, for what was a memorable event. 

Bring on next year’s competition! 

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