Four major productions are staged each year: VCE Theatre Studies Production, Middle School Drama, College Musical and College Play. An extensive series of close to twenty other concerts and performances also take place. For those not so keen on the limelight but who wish to be involved, there are plenty of roles to play in lighting, sound, backstage, set construction, costuming, makeup and front of house. There is a range of ensembles running across all year levels: primary and secondary choral groups, a primary strings orchestra, guitar ensemble, jazz band and college orchestra. A small group of itinerant music tutors offer private lessons to students in piano, voice, guitar, strings, woodwind and drums. As the need arises, this program can be expanded once enough students express an interest.
VCE Theatre Studies Production
Students studying VCE Theatre are required to stage their own full-scale production in early May each year. Students undertake two areas of stagecraft from acting, set design and construction, stage management, lighting design and operation, audio design and operation, costume, make-up/hair, production management, properties, publicity, theatre technologies or even direction. From selecting the playscript to realizing it into performance to an audience, this task requires focused commitment, planning and immense collaborative skills. This constitutes a major element of their VCE Assessment and they are well-resourced in achieving success in this task. This year’s production is The 39 Steps.
Middle School Drama
Students in Year 8 & 9 are invited to audition for the Middle School Drama which is staged late in May and first added to the performance program in 2010. Rehearsals take place after school and can be seen as a natural progression from the work undertaking in elective Drama courses, although even students not studying Drama are welcome to audition. This production crosses over into curriculum in managing the design and technical aspects of the performance. Students undertaking Year 10 Theatrecraft work with their teacher as Director in developing all aspects of this presentation. This also creates a natural progression into studying VCE Theatre Studies for these Year 10 students. Although essentially part of the co-curricular programme, there is a large emphasis on the skills which can come from being part of such a project, while still having a great deal of fun! This year’s production is The Wizard of Oz.
Aitken College staged its first College Musical in 2002 and since then, it has remained an important annual event in the life of the College. Usually open to all students from Year 6 upwards, auditions are held within the first week of the year before twice weekly rehearsals commence. Following a three-day musical camp during the first term holiday break, Saturday morning rehearsals are added in the lead up to the July/August performances. Each year, more than one hundred students, staff, parents and occasionally past students and industry professionals work tirelessly in staging the production. We aim to undertake all areas of onstage, backstage and orchestra involvement from within the College community. Students develop skills in singing, dance, acting and stagecraft across the five months of rehearsals. Originally staged at the Clocktower Centre in Moonee Ponds, the completion of the CPA in 2008 allowed us to take the musical to another level with the ability to rehearse within the performance space as well as finely tune all of the other production elements. More than 1000 people attend the annual musical which has been fortunate to be recognized through both commendations and nominations from the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria who each year, judge the show against more than 50 school and community productions around the state. A testament to the importance students place on this production and the lasting memories it provides can be seen each year with past students returning to see what the new crop of students presents. This year’s production is The Pirates of Penzance.
The College Play started as a way to expose students to the rich history of the works of William Shakespeare. The first six plays were all Shakespearean. The completion of the CPA in 2008 allowed us to delve into a wider range of theatrical styles and genre including classical pieces, contemporary Australian plays, more challenging modern theatre while still including the occasional Shakespeare for good measure. Students from Year 7 to 11 undertake auditions in August before a short rehearsal period of 2-3 days per week leads up to the performance early in October. Many students develop skills in other areas of stagecraft while opportunities to tap into Theatrecraft and VET Music Technology classes have been taken over the years. Originally staged in the Common Room or once outdoors, productions have ranged from Macbeth, The Crucible, Rebel Without A Cause and Romeo & Juliet. This year’s production is The Book of Everything.
Performing Arts Captains’ Concert
In first term each year, the Performing Arts Captains put out the call to all students who might wish to take part in the Performing Arts Captains’ Concert. It constantly throws up surprises and introduces us to talents we didn’t know existed. A gold coin donation and raffles are donated to a relevant cause as selected by the Captains.
Winter Music Soiree
Semester One ends with an evening sharing the work undertaken in Music classes throughout the College. Students taking private lessons as well as those enrolled in Music classes share their talents in a two hour show.
VCE Performance Showcases
Both Theatre Studies and Music classes at a VCE level are ultimately about preparing for performance in front of an audience of assessors. In the weeks leading up to their performance exams, parents, peers and the wider community are invited along to support them in their preparation and provide some feedback.
Year 10 Music Recital
There are four key College Play started as a way to expose students to the rich history of the works of William Shakespeare. The first six plays were all Shakespearean.
Twilight Outdoor Concert
Held as part of the College Open Afternoon late in October, an outdoor stage plays host to solo, group and ensemble performances from students across the College in an informal three-hour event. A picnic atmosphere is created through the addition of BBQ food, an ice-cream vendor and coffee van. A wonderful way to celebrate the talents of students to the current and future College community.
Director’s Choice Gala Concert
With so many events, the Director’s Choice Concert is the chance to highlight some of the outstanding work witnessed throughout the year. A type of end of year showcase, students across all year levels and disciplines of the arts are invited to re-stage their work in a more formal, professional setting. There are four key College Play started as a way to expose students to the rich history of the works of William Shakespeare. The first six plays were all Shakespearean.
Year Three Strings and Year 7/8 Band Concerts
Each semester, students involved in these two programs are given the opportunity in front of their teachers and parents to demonstrate the learning they have done.
Primary Performing Arts Day
Work undertaken throughout the year is celebrated when the primary classes come together towards the end of the year.
Instrumental Music Concerts
Periodically throughout the year, instrumental tutors are encouraged to stage short after-school concerts for students to show the skills they are developing.
Students from all year levels are offered the opportunity to perform at weekly school assemblies. This may be from private instrumental tuition, work undertaken in Drama, Media and Music classes or simply the chance to celebrate the wide range of talents our students possess.