Westlake Boys High School

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Drama & Theatre Arts
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It is fantastic to see the way in which you have deviated from the norm of 'traditional school productions' and created a unique and powerful way for the students to explore and create their own narrative to deliver to an audience."

Andrew Gordon, Audience Engagement Coordinator, NZ Opera

Drama is enjoyed from Years 9-13 and is taught by four talented and dedicated staff.  

The drama department runs an extensive and rich programme, enabling students to experience not only in-class curriculum performance, but also technical production (lighting, sound, stage management), theatresports (improvisational play), and an annual major school production (Les Miserables in 2019).  

Curriculum drama topics studied (in-class) include acting, scriptwriting, devising, physical theatre, stage combat, Shakespeare’s drama & theatre, New Zealand drama and theatre, political theatre, and mask work. The curriculum Technical Production Class also study lighting design, sound design, stage management, and props & costume design. At Year 13, students are invited to attempt Scholarship Drama, and in 2019 and 2021 our drama students were awarded Outstanding Scholarships in this exam.  

The drama & theatre arts department’s theatrical output has won 25 regional and national awards, awarded by Auckland Live, iTicket, and AMI (Showdown), and Shakespeare’s Globe Centre New Zealand.

Curriculum Drama & Theatre Arts

The study of Drama & Theatre Arts is practical, physical, embodied, and also intellectual.

The majority of courses in drama are founded around a practical process with a modest written element. However, students also study for two external examinations per year level: one a response to live theatre; the second a study of a theatre form (e.g., Shakespeare’s Theatre). In Year 13, students are offered a third examination opportunity – the Scholarship Drama Examination. Westlake boys have enjoyed achieving Outstanding Scholarships in both 2021 and 2019 in this exam. The first time students can take drama is in Year 9, for one term, but from Year 10 onwards drama is a whole-year course of study.  

Although numerous students do go on to study drama, theatre, or an arts subject at university or training institutions, the study of drama and theatre is focused around helping students gain the ‘soft skills’ needed to navigate a 21st Century world. Emotional intelligence, teamwork, leadership under pressure, reading people and situations, and collaboration are all essential for future success, and are experienced through drama.  

The staff member who leads the department is Dr. Nick Brown: [email protected]

Why drama at all?


Technical Performance Course

At Westlake Boys there is the opportunity to join a team of dedicated students who are taught both in a curriculum (Performing Arts Technology Course) context, where students can gain credits for technical work undertaken at school, or alternatively a more relaxed non-assessed after-school club. 

The work of these students is then seen in the major Westlake Schools’ production, in the Year 13 drama class production, and at school-wide community events such as Korean Night and Chinese Night. The students on this course study, design, create and execute lighting design, sound design, stage management, and props & costume design, and work with a real world client under authentic conditions.  

The staff member who leads this course is Mr. Lee McClymont: [email protected] 

Theatresports

The theatresports team meet once or twice a week at school, to train, and also compete regularly at Auckland-wide theatresports competitions run by the Theatresports Youth Programme. Focusing on improvisational skills, and spontaneous creative responsiveness, if you are a fan of “Whose Line is it Anyway”, or “Thank God You’re Here!” then you will thoroughly enjoy Westlake Boys’ Theatresports. The theatresports team is not auditioned and therefore open to all who are keen to participate, and have some fun together.  

The staff member who leads this course is Miss Rachel Smith: [email protected] 



Westlake Schools' Production

Over the past seven years, Westlake Schools have enjoyed unparalleled success, combining both Westlake Boys’ and Girls’ Schools to mount a major production. In 2021, Socially Distanced Shakespeare won three Auckland Live Showdown Awards, including Best Play, Best Technical Design, and Best Direction. In 2019, the musical Les Miserables was staged, boasting 100 students in acting roles, 30 students in the orchestra, 20 students backstage and in technical roles, and was seen by an audience of 3,500 across its season. This production won six awards, including the Auckland Live Best Production Award (2019), and the iTicket Showdown People’s Choice Award. 

Previous productions have included two musicals by composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim: Assassins (2015) and Sweeney Todd (2017), and two plays: a bicultural reimagining of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016), and a piece of performance ethnography, YouthQuake (2018), co-written by Nick Brown, MJ Milburn and the 70 students in the production.   

The staff member who leads production is head of department, Dr. Nick Brown: [email protected] 

Westlake Schools' Previous Productions
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2021 - Socially Distanced Shakespeare

By Shakespeare, devised by Nick Brown

Auckland Live Showdown Awards include:

Outstanding Technical Design (sound and lighting)  

Best Direction

Best Play

2019 - Les Misérables

by Boublil & Schonberg

iTicket Showdown Awards include:

Outstanding Lighting Design

Outstanding Sound Design

Best Musical Direction

Best Direction  

The People’s Choice Award

Auckland Live Awards include:

Outstanding Production of 2019

2018 - YouthQuake

By Nick Brown & MJ Milburn

iTicket Showdown Awards include:

Outstanding Lighting Design

2017 - Sweeney Todd

by Stephen Sondheim & Hugh Wheeler

iTicket Showdown Awards include:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast

Best Actor: Connor Charlesworth 

The People’s Choice Award

Best Musical 

2016 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

By William Shakespeare

iTicket Showdown Awards include:

Best Supporting Actor: Joe Jackson

Best Play  

Shakespeare Globe Centre (NZ) / University of Otago Awards include:

Outstanding Movement Award  

Grant Zent – Critics’ Choice Award

Izzy Shield and Connor Charlesworth – NSSP Award (UK)

2015 - Assassins

By Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman

iTicket Showdown Awards include:

Outstanding Lighting Design

Outstanding Sound Design

Best Supporting Actress: Lina Kim  

The People’s Choice Award

Best Musical