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High school drama of the classical kind

Corin Mackay    July 29, 2023    3 min read   

By Corin Mackay

(Left to right) Actors Arlo and Praj on stage.
(Left to right) Actors Arlo and Praj on stage.

Forest Lake State High School (FLSHS) recently performed their rendition of Euripides’ Medea in late May to wide community applause as the third play in a new tradition of performances.

FLSHS Head of Arts Sean Lubbers said that he picked the play in particular to broaden students’ knowledge of Greek tragedy, an area of study they cover in classroom hours.

“I started the theatre company in 2020, and we’ve grown the company to do different types of shows. Students learn about Greek tragedy in school hours, and with the company, the kids can expand that knowledge,” Sean said.

Students were cast in October 2022, and had about four months to prepare for the show since starting rehearsals in February this year. 

“Students rehearsed every Tuesday for 14 weeks, with dress rehearsals throughout the last three weeks,” Sean said.

“They ended up working 10-15 hours a week, with two hour blocks every Tuesday afternoon from February to April.”

Community turnout was excellent, with roughly 200 people coming to watch a cast of only 15 perform in a newly-established tradition at the school.

“For the first time, we held two shows this year,” Sean said.

“ I wanted students to get a feel for what it’s like to do more than one show in a season. Over the showings, even with our small group of actors, we had about 200 community members watch, with lots of support from Forest Lake State High Alumni that had performed in previous years bringing along family and friends to support the actors.”
Sean plans to produce a play every two years, with one year taken in between each production year to strengthen actors’ skills.

“The original performance date was cancelled due to Covid restrictions, which was stressful for all of us, but we somehow managed to perform later in 2020, and then again in 2021, but since then we haven’t done another until now,” he said.

“I wanted to make it so that we do one every two years, and in the year off, I reinvest the profits from the last show back into the cast… last year I brought in industry artists from all over South-East Queensland to come in and do skill development workshops with the students.”

Sean said the audience loved the shows. 

“I received compliments from the audience where they thought it would be another school show, and how they couldn’t believe how professional the actors in the cast were.”

“They loved the scenographic staging, especially the 25 wedding dresses we bought and hung from the ceiling. 

“We used greek columns, and had red cloth spilling onto the audience to symbolise the blood in the tragedy.

“Visually, the play was less simplistic than the last two, and the audience, expecting a more minimalistic approach like the first two shows, were pleasantly surprised when we upped the ante a notch. 

 “Our leads were amazing, the two for Medea and one for Jason were brilliant,” Sean said. 

Corin Mackay