Last week my year 11 class brought to life – on the St Vincent’s College stage – our own rendition of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. It was a tremendous amount of work and I am extraordinarily proud to say it was a huge success! It was my first time directing a play and I was fortunate enough to direct alongside my wonderful friend Pippi Cullinan. It was a very different experience from prior school productions as this one was run almost entirely by us, the year 11 drama students.
Our story followed the three Baudelaire orphans and their journey from guardian to guardian, being all the while chased by the evil Count Olaf who was after their enormous fortune. My class – drawing inspiration from the classic book series published from 1999 to 2006, the 2004 film and the 2017 Netflix series – took on many roles such as scriptwriters, costume, set, lighting and music designers. Not to mention the monumental requirement of filling the large auditorium for 3 nights!
The process began with casting – it was hard for me as the director because I had to choose from a cast made entirely of friends! After watching the auditions, Pippi and I poured over our notes, making no decisions lightly. Here is the cast that we choose!
LEMONY SNICKET: Chloe
COUNT OLAF: Isobel
UNCLE MONTY: Elizabeth
AUNT JOSEPHINE: Pippi
JUSTICE STRAUSS: Piper
MR POE: Emerson
MRS POE: Catie
PRISCILLA POE: Hannah
FERNALD (HOOK HANDS): Saraya
LARRY (THE HENCHMEN OF INDETERMINATE GENDER): Harriet
BERNISE (WHITE POWDERED WOMAN): Hannah
DENISE (WHITE POWDERED WOMAN): Catie
Then a script needed to be written, so during our holidays, myself, Pippi, Shea and Isobel got to work crafting a 80 page masterpiece (later cut down to 60 pages)! It was a joy to write and we suited it to our own audience, including humorous references to our teachers and pop culture. Before we knew it, school was back and all of a sudden we had only seven weeks to go from just a script to a fully fledged production. The girls began learning their lines and Pippi and I began blocking scenes (meaning organising movements and stage positions so everything flows). There was a hive of activity as many of the girls were also liaising with suppliers of set shops, designing and making costumes, playing around with lighting boards or planning the most effective music for each scene. Not to mention running the social media pages and keeping track of ticket sales. For all this to happen the girls worked really hard, they worked in class, in the evenings and on the weekends!
Thank you Ms Johnson, Ms Peoples and Ken who helped make it all possible. I hope we made you proud.
I would also like to mention my little sister Ruby who I asked at 5pm on Sunday night to cater for the event over the next three days (sorry Ruby!). She worked until after midnight baking cupcakes, cookies, preparing lollie bags, toasties and sushi rolls. When that was done, Ruby made a price list and for all three nights she manned the booth and fed most of the audience. Job well done!
At the end of each night we were told that the productions ran smoothly and were also blessed with so many encouraging words and compliments.
Our principle Mrs Fry emailed me these kind words:
“I had the good fortune to see the play twice, and on the third night I went back and watched the last 20 minutes. That is a testament to how much I enjoyed the show as usually after a College Board meeting I want to go straight home!!!!!!! There was some significant nostalgia in the show for me as my children loved these books when they were young. I remember at the time when they were reading them being concerned about the repetitive nature of misfortune and the consequent melancholy. However, under your capable direction, the stronger genre in the play was comedy and manic comedy at that. I felt great and warranted comparison to the classic Monty Python and Fawlty Towers comedies. The comedic characterisation was outstanding, and the energy and complementary pairings within the ensemble cast were the results of perfect casting. Bravo to all involved.”
Thanks to everyone involved and who came to see our show. It was definitively a priceless experience for me, and the rest of my class.
PS: Below is some of the images I made for publicity
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