Mairehau High School & The
Pirates of Swinging London
To borrow another well-known phrase from another well-known
musical … it was all a bit of a time-warp really as
the plot shifted from Britain in the mid-1700s to London
in the swinging sixties - from Captain Salt and his
amateur pirate crew to Dan and Jasmine and the Dream
Scene. What's more, it was hands-off from teachers
and any other adults and hands-on to students because
this year's production at Mairehau was completely student
driven - from production concept and ideas to actually
writing the script to painting scenery to making costumes
to arranging the choreography and finally to … Lights,
Action, Please …
- Why did you write your own script this year
the school weren't keen at first and wanted us to
stick to the traditional way which meant paying a fortune
in copyright for a script from Oz but we went on
and on and begged and begged until they finally agreed.
The only condition was that we had to write the plot
around music we already had because it would've been
way too difficult to have to come up with an original
music score as well. We did write our own pirate
- Where did the idea for the plot come from
- We were definitely influenced by
the music - mainly because it was all from the Sixties
and we had to write the script around them. Plus, we
decided we needed something that would appeal to all
ages - from kids through to adults - and decided on
pirates and hippies … and then we had to come up with
a way to connect the two.
- So how long did it take to write
- The actual script only took us about
a month but it was 11 months in the making. We brainstormed
heaps and there was a lot of discussion, planning …
and arguing. And plenty of compromising too! But everyone
got involved because we asked for the whole cast's
input and ideas which meant we ended up with a lot
of editing to do although our basic plot stayed the
same but it all worked out fantastically.
"Doing this production has helped us enormously with general stuff like life-skills and management. We've all matured heaps."
- Was it a large cast
- Yeah - we had 23 main characters and
a huge chorus but as well as playing their parts everyone
had to help out with a load of other stuff too. Painting,
sound effects, props, costumes - everything! It was
really great though because everyone did their bit.
you were in charge of the whole thing
- Yep. We were thrown in at the deep
end. Producing, directing, auditions - the whole lot.
No-one else was involved. Everyone who'd been involved
in previous years had left - including our drama teacher
- and our new one hadn't ever done anything like it
before so it was a real learning curve. It was kind
of weird at first being in charge of your mates and
friends but everyone responded really well to us. All
it took was a bit of initial yelling to get them to
shut up and then they all listened! It was a great
feeling though and a great atmosphere. We really were
one big happy family.
- Did you take acting parts yourselves
- Mmm. We didn't really want to but
Ms Robertson persuaded us - Vanessa played the Villainess
and then on top of that we also had to design her set,
the props, her costume. That's what it was like.
- Was it hard work
"The biggest challenge
was to get the cast to take us seriously and
to respect us. We knock around with them or else
see them at school all the time and suddenly
there we were dishing out orders."
- Sure but it was so worth it. Towards
the end we were rehearsing every day - one time for
13 hours straight - talk about complete dedication!
It's hard getting back to normal though after all the
hype and adrenalin rush. School work, jobs and stuff
- it all feels like a bit of an anti-climax.
- Have you all been involved in drama for quite
- Since the 3rd Form. And I'm (Nick)
currently in rehearsals for The Fiend at Canterbury
Uni. Most of us want to go on to be involved in drama
and acting in some way.
- And your ultimate dreams are …
- To be a fashion journalist ( and
from the others … nah! What's your Ultimate??) Well,
okay then - to OWN a fashion magazine, maybe in New
To have my own company
Directing my own theatre company
To own a zoo ( Whaaaat???) Well,
bit defensively) you did ask what my dream
was and that's it! Oh, and to travel.
- There's a bit of a lull in the conversation
as everyone gazes into the future before
sighing and agreeing:
- Travel … oh,
yeah … you bet … travel …