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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 …

The Group

Why did you write your own script this year
Well, 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 shanty though!
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.
And 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 some time
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 York.
To have my own company
Directing my own theatre company
To own a zoo ( Whaaaat???) Well, ( a 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 …

17-19 May 2005