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Theatre activities in English

mardi 25 avril 2017

JOURNEY TO AUSTRALIA

Australia on a big ball

« A journey to Australia » is a play that was written, staged and performed by Dario Costa, from the company Drama Ties on Tuesday, the 17th of January at the high school’s theatre. It was composed of 4 stories, all linked with a piece of music played with the didgeridoo, a typical aboriginal instrument. The stories were dealing with the history of Australia, from the discovery of Australia by Captain Cook in the 18th century to Mad Dan, the truck driver of the 21st century. The first story was showing the meeting of aborigines and Cook, and his naturalist was amazed by all the new animals and plants he was discovering, as the koala bear and the eucalyptus for example. The second story was about Alexander Pearce, the first man that ever managed to escape from Australia as it was a penal colony. The third story is about the life of Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant that travels to Australia after World War II to find a job. Finally, the last story deals with Mad Dan, a road-train driver that travels the desert alone in his truck, and there’s a story in the story because he dreams about an explorer in the 1860s who got lost in the desert.
As you can see, there are several characters in this play, all embodied by Dario. He was using his miming skills and his facial expressions to make us understand that he was changing characters, because he decided to stage his play with very few props, and no set at all. His staging was very minimalist ; he was using all his body, with miming, body language and facial expressions to embody the characters. He also used some sound effects to create different atmospheres, like when he was in the jungle as Alexander Pearce or in the city as Giuseppe, not only recordings of city life for example, but also sounds with his own voice, as when he was imitating the snake’s sound as Mad Dan in the desert. It was as if there was a real snake on stage, although he was still alone. All those uses of his body, his voice and the sounds helped me to understand the play. For me, they were as important as the text, and thanks to them I understood it all. I expected it to be funnier, but it was a very interesting and funny way to learn more things about Australia, and I think that I will remember way more things about Australia from the play than from the webquest for example. I loved the minimalist staging, because he showed us that to do drama you don’t need lots of things, and that your body can be an amazing special effects machine !
Paul Wijkhuisen 2°2

My classmates and I and also some other students saw “Journey to Australia” on Tuesday 17 January performed and written by Dario Costa from the company Drama Ties.
Dario performed various characters who each were the main characters of the stories he performed. There were four stories, one of them was about the escape of a prisoner who was convicted for stealing six pairs of shoes. He was sent to Australia and at that time Australia was a horrible place according to the fat and mean judge we saw in the play and all English people, for them it was like sending someone into the deep wilderness for a slow death. However he managed to escape with five other convicts and returned to England where he was judged again. All four stories were about precise characters who had really existed historically or who could have existed in the centuries he introduced us to. The comic and sometimes tragic stories were staged very well, the sound effects were created by himself and they were genuine and really well performed, which could seem difficult, but he did it with passion, simplicity and humor.
Dario wrote his play in three months, which is very short for writing a whole constructed play. I think it is why the characters he created weren’t as developed as I would like them to be. Most of them were stereotypes and we didn’t have time to appreciate their personality. Even though they weren’t developed characters I would have liked to see them less quickly, a slower performance would have been great. Yet, he did amazing sound effects and mimes which made up for my disappointment about the “not so developed” characters.
He could have used more costumes, not so much for a better understanding of the play but to diversify his performance and add some personality to the characters he created. The set and props were very minimalist but I don’t think it was big of a problem, it was great to have the opportunity to concentrate on his performance more than concentrating on his set and his props. I also really liked the fact he used music which he placed in a suitcase, it was an intelligent and a fun idea. He also managed to create an interesting atmosphere with his body and the sound effects he made. I think music always brings something good to a play or a film… The atmosphere was there even though light effects would have improved it.
The play wasn’t complicated to understand and the “French aparte” weren’t necessary, in fact, in my opinion, it would have been better without them. His high acting skills helped to understand the play.
To conclude I would like to add that Dario is a passionate person in terms of acting, miming and sound effects. But he could improve his writing that could be more precise and personal, and his staging, I’m not referring to the props or the set but the fact that in my opinion his performance of the characters was not long enough.
Matylda Garawecka, 2°2

On Tuesday the 17th, my English class and some other classes went to the “Lycee Rabelais’ theatre” to watch Dario Costa from the company “Drama Ties”. He performed a play named “Journey to Australia”. The play was divided into four stories.
The plot starts by a poem that we had to learn during the English class.
We were then sent back to the eighteenth century, on the ship of Captain Cook ; the first European to sail to Australia. They settled in a place now named “Botany Bay” ; they discovered new species of animals, such as the platypus.
The second story was about a convict named “Alexander Pearce”. He was sentenced to seven years in “Botany Bay” by the penal court for stealing six pairs of shoes. Botany Bay was the first English colony in Australia, but it became a sort of destination for convicts, they had to build and develop the colony. They were forced to work hard in the hot, hot sun of Australia. One day, Alexander Pearce and some other convicts decided to escape and hide in the forest. They were so hungry ; they decided to eat each other. There were only two left ; Alexander Pearce and “Greenhill” (one of the convicts). Alexander then ate Greenhill, but had to go back to Botany Bay ; it was his only way to survive. Once there, the guards questioned him about the other convicts who had escaped. They didn’t believe Alexander, who told them he had eaten all of them…
The third story was about a truck driver (“a trucky”) who dreamed about “Burkes and Wills”, two explorers who walked from the South of Australia to the North, crossing a huge desert. One of them had to wait for the other to come back. After five months, he couldn’t wait anymore and walked back to the city. The other arrived at the camp nine hours after he had left !
The last story was about an Italian who came back from World War II. He searched for a job, and decided to immigrate to Australia to find a job. He had to break rocks with dynamite. He tells his story as an immigrant, and how hard it was at the beginning.
Dario didn’t use many props ; he just had a balloon with a map of Australia drawn on it, loudspeakers, an instrument and sunglasses, and there wasn’t any type of effects. I personally enjoyed the play, but it was sometimes hard to understand and quite boring at some points. First, for me the performance of the poem was too simple, the end of the stories weren’t very precise and the plot would have been challenging to understand without the workshop we had done a week before the play. I would have inserted some light effects, more props like a gun for the guards, dynamite for the Italian immigrant ; but it was compensated by his miming skills which were good and funny.
Simon FAIVRE, 2nd1

The truck driver and his suitcase

On Tuesday 17th of January, we went to the theatre of the Lycée Rabelais to watch Dario Costa, from the company Drama Ties, perform a play he had written himself named “Journey to Australia”.
In the play, there are multiple stories and characters, but they are all played by the same actor, Dario. There were four stories, and in each two to five characters.
At first, he recited a poem he had also written himself, while lying upside-down on a big green ball with the map of Australia drawn on it.
In the first story, the actor played two characters : Captain Cook, the first English man to go to Australia with his crew, and an English naturalist. He played their arrival on land, and mimes the naturalist discovering local unknown species like kangaroos, or other smaller animals.
Then, in the second story, he told us about an English convict, named Alexander Pierce, who was sent to Australia for stealing 6 pairs of shoes, and then escaped from the prison with other convicts. Dario showed us how they survived and the struggles they had with cliffs, dense jungle, hunger and fatigue. To survive, they even had to eat their own friends. In the end, Alexander, the only survivor, isn’t believed when he tells his story, and is sent to prison again.
The third story is about an Italian man named Giuseppe, who after the war searches for a job but doesn’t find anything to do. He decides to migrate to Australia to find a job. He joins a company which blows up rocks from a mountain to build a dam. He is stuck with it for a couple of years, but ends up doing what he likes, being a carpenter.
The last one is about a “trucky”, an Australian truck driver called Mad Dan. He then has a dream about two explorers, Burke and Wills : they went on a three-month- journey to explore, with someone waiting for them. But when four months had passed, the one waiting decided to leave, thinking they were dead but left food and supplies in case they’d come back.
Personally, I found the play a bit weird. I don’t really know if it was supposed to be funny, but I didn’t really laugh during the performance… Plus, I think it would have been better with more actors and props. I have to say that I didn’t really like it, sometimes it was very uncomfortable, and other parts were very boring. He didn’t have any costumes, just normal clothes, there wasn’t any set, the fact he had to start the music himself was a bit strange, even if I think Dario is a pretty good actor overall. I wouldn’t recommend this play to someone else, even if it wasn’t really hard to understand.

Jack Olivier, 2°3

On Tuesday, 17th January, we went to the school theater and we watched Journey to Australia, written, staged and performed by Dario Costa from the company Drama Ties.
Dario explained to us the history of Australia by performing different characters, such as Mad Dan or an Italian immigrant. During the first story, Dario performed as Captain James Cook, the first explorer to set foot in Australia and the botanist who helped him, Joseph Banks.
To make transitions between the different stories, Dario used a didgeridoo, an aboriginal instrument. The second story was about British convicts sent to Australia by a judge. A convict called Alexander Pearce was sent to Australia for seven years because he had stolen six pair of shoes. In Australia, he tried to escape with a few other convicts, but after a few hours in the bush, some of the convicts died. The prisoners who were still alive decided to eat the prisoners who had died. At the end, only Pearce survived.
The third story was about an Italian immigrant who was a prisoner during the German occupation. When he was free, he decided to go to Australia. There, he worked as a miner who used dynamite to remove rocks. Dario says that this story was inspired by his own Italian family.
The fourth story was about Mad Dan, a truck driver (Dario uses the word “trucky”, an Australian word). While he was in the desert, Mad Dan started dreaming of what is life could have been if he had been an explorer, so he dreams of Burke and Wills, two Irish explorers who went to Australia. Three months after the beginning of the exploration, the explorers split because they were too slow. One part of the group stayed where they were, in Camp 57, and the other one, composed by Burke and Wills, went through the Australian outback for four months, as was planned first. At the end of the story, the first group decided to get back in the civilization.
After that Dario played didgeridoo and the show ended.
During the play, Dario used mimes and different tones of voices to make us understand. For instance, Joseph Banks was played as an enthusiastic botanist, and James Cook, as a proud explorer. This was a great point of the play, because he was really good at miming.
The music and the sounds effects were used smartly. For example, Dario uses bird sounds when the story talks about nature. They create a real atmosphere, but the set and the props were very poor. Indeed, on the stage, there was only a chair and a balloon which represented Australia. It was the same for the costumes, Dario wore only a shirt and a pair of pants, like a normal person, which was a shame because it could have been more understandable for us with costumes.
I really liked the play because I learned a lot of things about Australia’s History. Dario managed to play a one-man-show with a lot of different characters, but it would have been better if there had been a few other actors, so that everyone could have understood more easily. But Dario’s a great actor who successfully created a show twelve years ago, all by himself, and he hadn’t played that show for four years. He is a great actor, a great writer and a great producer.
I recommend you watch this show. You can learn a lot of things about Australia, a country that we don’t study much at school.
Bryan Thouenon, 2°2


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