The National School of Theater and Dramatic Arts returns to the public stage with The Performance 13



We have already commented on how the public theater seems quite settled in its return to life after the recent confinement. What is now announced is a return to normal in the corridors of learning. Activities in the halls of the National School of Dramatic Arts, for example, showed tentative signs of re-emerging from the cocoon of online education in which it had retreated. But he is now coming out into the public eye.

The National School of Theater and Dramatic Arts (NSTAD), one of the four schools of the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA), invited the public a few months ago to an exhibition of theatrical make-up and SFX designed and applied by students trained by tutor Steve Douglas, renowned Bravo Arts designer. It was NSTAD’s first daring open event after its two-year hibernation, when those interested could see what drama students were learning at the institution about special effects and character makeup for the stage and film. ‘screen. The work done in the studio and with models was presented on stage at the National Cultural Center (CNC).

After opening this tentative window, the acting school took it a step further when its acting class moved to hold workshops in the town of Linden. This was a pretty big outreach because not only was it open to theater groups in Region 10, but it marked the return of the extramural activity that NSTAD had attempted in previous years. Area residents with little access to the drama school joined students in acting workshops led by instructor Godfrey Naughton.

In addition, at the end of a long period of online classes, the annual summer workshops for teaching drama were once again able to bring students to attend lectures and studio work in face-to-face mode in NSTAD conference rooms and NCC stage. This is a specially designed training program for teachers which the School of Drama runs in association with the Related Arts Unit of the Ministry of Education. Teachers are mobilized in various remote neighborhoods to provide tutoring so that they are better equipped to teach theater in their schools. A group of them obtained the Drama Technical Teaching Diploma last year.

This year, the teachers were able to return to the stage for studio work, led by tutors Ayanna Waddell, Esther Hamer and Sonia Yarde. In addition, they completed a program of study in Caribbean cultural forms and units in technical theater with stage performance. This showed the dramatization of Wake, Story-telling and Stick Fighting forms. These workshops have advanced the cause of helping teachers become more competent to teach high school drama, but more specifically, to meet the requirements of the CSTC Theater Arts subject. In addition, there will be the opportunity to show them to the public in “The Performance 13” of 2022.

Most of the above has helped advance NSTAD’s efforts to be more effective nationwide. Many prospective students have been unable to access the courses offered at the drama school due to its location in Georgetown, but through these activities and programs, many have been able, at least in part, to overcome this barrier. In addition, outreach forms will always attract more people interested in receiving interpretation training. In addition to virtually signaling the end of the inhibition of pandemic restrictions, it is one of the reasons why the performance school’s announcement of the new production “The Performance 13” is so welcomed and important.

Following all of these progressive advances in public and face-to-face events, NSTAD recently broadcast that the student production titled The Performance 13: House of Emotions will premiere Friday, October 7 at 8:00 p.m. at the NCC. This is the institution’s return to the public arena for the first time since 2019.

This production takes up the annual screening of the work of theater students, which has been a tradition since the creation of the school. As part of fulfilling the requirements of their program, all students must participate in a public performance for which they are graded by their professors. The staging draws from most of the disciplines they study and the work they have covered is meant to allow them to contribute to the show. They have the opportunity to show and practice what they have learned. In addition, the public has the opportunity to see the exhibition of these skills.

Testing the skills acquired, practical work is carried out by students from different disciplines. These include courses taken in Production Management, Costume Design, Makeup, Properties, Stage Management, Set Design, Acting, and Dance. But in addition, the students took other courses which also led to the creation of material that will be exhibited. This is the introduction to cinema, animation, as well as costume and makeup designs made on models. Yet it goes further, as there are students studying creative writing and some of their work will also be exhibited through poetry and prose readings.

These graduation productions are designed by the students and will show work they have generated and presented using learned skills. This year Performance 13 is subtitled House of Emotions because of the theme on which it clings. There are short plays and dramatizations whose plots are driven by a variety of human emotions that have caused dramatic conflicts and consequences played out on stage.

There are three short pieces, each with its own central conflict but tied to the thematic interplay of emotions. They are “Obsession”, “Bittersweet” and “A Daughter’s Love”. These dramas were developed in class from exercises and focusing on emotions, so that these human feelings drive the conflicts and actions of the characters who respond to them. They then serve as very interesting dramatizations that form the center of the production. Many other elements of the program relate in one way or another to the main themes.

There are songs and poems. Poems are chosen from works written by students in creative poetry classes dating back at least three years. They are dramatically executed to give them more power. To enforce this, there is a short story and dances. The dances reinforce the themes and are choreographed around conflicting emotions. In particular, the piece “Bittersweet” has dance as a part of its performance text.

There are students who study animation and film, and the products of these are also incorporated into the curriculum. There are separate presentations by film students and an exhibition of work produced by animation students. It is a very rich mix of presentations because the program also includes exhibitions of works made in the scenography module. Exhibits continue with costume design samples and videos of actual studio work, while the results of character makeup studies are presented by models.

What then becomes apparent is that there are several different disciplines studied by students, many of which complement each other. But most of them create spectacle in creative work worth watching.

Students then put into practice their skills in production management as well as several elements of theatrical technique. Then, in performance, their skills are tested in the disciplines of performance, theater and dance. Performance 13: House of Emotions is guided by production manager Francwa Fortune, who is herself one of the students. Curtain time is at 8 p.m. on October 7 at the NCC; there is no admission fee.

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