Congratulations to our Showcase performers!

How time flies! Exactly one month ago, on Sunday 29 October, parents and children battled their way through Norton Street’s Italian Festival to get to Actors Centre Australia, where Viva Voice held its 2017 Showcase! Drama Teacher Carissa Licciardello reports back from the big day.

Now in its third year, the annual Showcase provides an exciting opportunity for our students to turn their hard work in the classroom into a polished, public performance shared with friends and family.

For some students, it was the culmination of a busy year full of Eisteddfod performances and examination preparation. For others (especially our youngest), it was their very first public performance.

Every week in the month leading up to the Showcase, my youngest class would ask (somewhat skeptically) if we were really going to perform on a ‘real stage, with lights and everything?’

I assured them we were, and sure enough, when we entered the auditorium for the first time, they were awed into silence – a rather uncharacteristic state for a boisterous Drama class.

Performing in such a professional context – under lights, on a full stage with a large audience – is an important and exciting event in the lives of our young performers, a pay-off for their hard work and a step closer to what professional actors and speakers do.

This year, we had a record 75 performers treading the boards (and trying their very best to be quiet backstage). They eagerly filled the auditorium for the afternoon’s rehearsal, and were each given a chance to work out the strongest positions onstage, test the volume of their voices in this new space, and receive feedback from their classmates sitting in the audience area. Then, as parents began to arrive, our cast headed backstage for their final preparations.

The dressing rooms were a flurry of activity – students pulling on costumes, applying make-up to each others faces, running lines, running around playing tips (they are an energetic bunch), and warming-up their voices.

Before we knew it, the lights were up, the audience was in and the curtains were open!

The afternoon was packed with performances from class groups and individuals, ranging from drama performances of adapted fairytales, films and stories, to self-devised scenes, to theatrical monologues and duologues, and poems and previews from exam programs.

It truly was a showcase of the many and varied talents of our cohort – for just a few examples, one class presented a rap they’d memorised from the popular modern musical Hamilton; another student, Roisin, was decked out in her full Irish dancing get-up as she performed a poem she wrote with her mother about her experiences in Irish dancing competitions; and Year 9 student Toby gave an imposing performance as Miss. Trunchbull – one that drew squeals of delight from our youngest students during the dress rehearsal.

This is one of the wonderful things to witness on Showcase day – older students performing with confidence, clarity and creativity, and younger students glued to their every move, aspiring to be just like them.

In the weeks following a Showcase, our younger kids always return starry-eyed at the exploits of the older students – seeing those students perform is evidence that months and years of practice will continue to improve their confidence and skill set, giving them a goal to strive for and encouragement to continue working hard.

Another wonderful part about the Showcase for us teachers is seeing the change in students before and after their performances.

Standing behind the curtain, waiting to go on, their faces are often tight with nerves, or scrunched in focus as they run lines under their breaths – but afterwards, they leave the stage and their warm, supportive audience flushed with excitement, adrenaline and pride.

There are some students, however, who don’t seem to get nervous at all…

One of my favourite moments in this year’s Showcase was standing backstage with our Preschool – Year 2 drama class, waiting to go onstage together to debut our version of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Our smallest student, Hanna, is three years old – and as we waited quietly behind the curtain, she turned to me, her face lit up with glee, and jumped up and down in silent excitement. She strode onto the stage and performed with total confidence, and left the stage in much the same state as she had entered it. What a star!

After the final performance, all 75 performers joined us onstage for a final bow.

Looking at all the students gathered there – the oldest in the back, the youngest down the front – I was struck by how far those I have taught have come over the last months and years. What happened to the shy students who hid behind their parent’s legs on the first day of classes?

(And how are so many students suddenly taller than me?!)

That’s the thing about the Showcase – it gives teachers, parents, and the students themselves the opportunity to pause for a moment and look back on just how far they’ve come – and the exciting places they could (and will) go next.

Next year’s Showcase can’t come soon enough!

“Thank you all for presenting such another wonderful and well organised Viva Voice showcase. An entertaining afternoon in the theatre. The little kids were so adorable and confident and I was particularly impressed with the older kids – some incredible talent on display and fantastic to see teenage boys shining. Thank you for offering Scarlett the opportunity to perform, she had fun bringing her monologue back to life and performing on stage to such a warm audience.”

Loretta, Parent