Drama students create their own plays
Miss Casey’s Year 9 drama class have begun planning their devised plays based on the stimulus of PT Barnum - The Greatest Showman. After research and improvisation work exploring different aspects of Barnum's life and career, students broke into groups to start to plan their own plays and characters based on what this stimulus inspired.
Below is an extract from a brilliant piece of writing by a Year 9 which explains her aims and intentions for her group's piece and her own main character:
Initially, the play opens through a small sequence through a line of slaves, with hunched over backs as they scream in pain as the plantation owner’s clerk whips them violently. The aim for this scene was to establish this key sympathy for the slaves, I personally thought in a cut of Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum Est, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks/Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge”, the language in the poem itself reflects a sudden visceral response, that it exactly what I intend to present in the few seconds of the sequence of “bent double” backs with piercing screams; bearing it, in theatre’s convention, that each second is, in nature, vital to create audience response. This sympathy established is immediately tried and contradicted as my character (the plantation owner) enters under the omniscient presence, to the characters in the play, of the Witch's Ghost, as the plantation owner begins hollering at the slaves as they are still being whipped for work when it, quite obviously, is being drained out of them; then the character of the plantation owner almost shifts. In this, my group aimed to create this drain of energy and power, that here a clerk is beating the life out of slaves and a plantation owner is protesting for work; the immorality of earning and producing work for purposes of business is signified from Barnum’s business of charlatans for purposes of entertainment. By continuing to holler as one of the slaves screams at the top of his lungs “God, it hurts!”, as the clerk whips them even harder but, this time, is inches away from hurting the plantation owner, the owner bursts in anger at the clerk’s aim and purposes the clerk’s trouble and exit. The ideas of power is contradicted, that even under the clear work of the clerk, the clerk is still inferior to the business owner, no matter their efforts, even under the work of the slaves, the slaves, under all justification and all presumed ideas of the civilisation and eugenic nature of humans; the intention of blurring efforts, however inhumane, prevails over a business owner’s obsession with product. Barnum himself was a showman, completely reliant on product, this is a spitting reflection of the morality of earning, the contradictions of power, the “Bent double” slaves “like old beggars under sacks” generates a sympathy of this, and a clear realisation of history; that countries themselves were slaves to business, their ideas of earning was blurred as they immorally bought the right to sell and distribute human beings for imperialistic and commercial purposes.