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A Wicked Experience
A Wicked Experience
Students from Farnley Park Maths & Computing College took a trip to London’s West End with NST back in March. And it seems they had a Wicked time! We talked to their teacher, Viki Fox, to get the low down.
The Show: Monday 21st March
Q: Why did you choose this show over others?
A: We had heard lots of good reviews from people who had already seen it. It seemed to be a theme the students related to and something fun and glitzy!
Q: Before you watched it, what was the general feeling about the show amongst the group?
A: There was a lot of buzz amongst the students. The lead character had performed a song on TV the weekend before so even the students who perhaps didn’t know about the show at least had a rough idea of what to expect.
Q: And how about when you got into the theatre – did the anticipation build?
A: Yes the students were very keen to look around the theatre and to look at the merchandise. Once one of them had bought a programme they were glued to the pages swatting up on every detail before the show started.
Q: Which parts of the show did students enjoy most and why?
A: The song ‘Defying Gravity’ was definitely a favourite of those in the know! However they seemed to be enchanted through the whole show and loved the storyline as much as the songs. The opening was great!
Q: How well did the show link to your curriculum?
A: Very well. We took drama, dance and music students so there was something for all of them to enjoy and engage with.
Q: What do you think students took away with them?
A: The experience itself – some of them have only been to the local pantomime before. The experience of being in a top London theatre – at the front! They understood the underlying themes of the plays and discussed them at the workshop the next day.
The Workshop: Tuesday 22nd March 2011
Q: Tell us about your theatre workshop experience.
A: Two wonderful gentlemen ran the workshop, and we were lucky enough to be joined by the actress who played Elphaba which was the icing on the cake for the students. The workshop started with warm-ups and ‘getting to know you’ activities to relax the students – especially the musicians who were a bit suspicious at first! We then took elements and themes from the show and created freeze frames and short scenes around them.
Q: How did the workshop link to your curriculum?
A: The students are studying BTEC Performing Arts. The course requires them to experience ‘live’ theatre and for them to have experience of working with practitioners. They also have to learn about the business side of the industry and the actress who came to talk to them was able to tell them all about her experience as an actress and how to access it as a career.
Q: What did your students enjoy most about the workshop?
A: These students do not normally work together as one group; there are dancers, musicians and actors. They really enjoyed the breaking down of barriers and seeing a different side to each other that they might not have experienced in their ‘normal’ life. They enjoyed talking about the show and being treated as young adults not children. The workshop leaders were humorous and easily approachable.
Q: Would you recommend the show and the workshop to other groups?
A: The show is a spectacle and very enjoyable – you don’t have to be arty to love the theatre!
Rachel Tucker has been playing Elphaba on the West End stage for over a year now. She took some time out from her busy schedule to tell us about landing the role and why she loves sharing her experiences with aspiring young actors.
I’ve been singing since the age of nine with my dad, and performing was always encouraged in my family. I belonged to youth drama groups, took a Performing Arts Course and did a year at the Royal Academy of Music before getting an agent and starting the audition process.
I spent three years doing tours, and then did the TV show for Nancy before landing the role of Elphaba. Playing the part has been the best experience and it’s an absolute honour to play.
Before the first performance, we had two weeks of music rehearsals, followed by four weeks of rehearsals with the cast. Now I’m performing eight shows a week. It takes a lot of stamina and I have to be very disciplined, staying healthy and getting enough rest.
I have an absolute passion for sharing my profession with kids and I regularly get involved with student workshops. I love giving them tips. It’s a great way to help kids eliminate elements of fear, nerves and anxiety to enable the best performances.
If I were to give some advice to students about getting into the industry, I would say know you’re good, believe in yourself, practise, persevere and study – it’s so important to go to drama school!