Posts Tagged ‘university of the sunshine coast


Hamlet. Psyched


Hamlet. Psyched 

USC Drama

Chancellor College Performance Centre

Friday March 28 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



How can we look after our own mental health?





Drama Discipline Leader of USC, Jo Loth, wanted to make Hamlet relevant to her students and what better way than to incorporate MYTERN SMS?


MYTERN is an acronym for Take Emotional Responsibility Now. As part of her PhD studies, Jane Foster offered MYTERN SMS to the USC student community.


Foster has been running the service from her own mobile phone, offering daily text messages to students for inspiration, motivation, comfort and support.


Participants gave permission for their messages and feedback to be used for publishing purposes, and in this case, within Loth’s newly adapted production of Shakespeare’s classic tale of teen angst and a family in dissolve.


With two Hamlets on stage, a male and a female, the interpretations are interesting and not always as contrasting as one would think, though this may be due to shared rehearsal time and collaborative work on the character. A monologue is treated as dialogue, and there are times when I wonder about the effect of the role played solely by a female.


There is less need for the actors to raise their voices than they appear to think there is, with much of their shouting becoming ineffectual through over-application; we miss words and we cringe with Ophelia. These are young performers with minimal training and it shows, despite their best efforts to perform with gusto and fully commit to their roles. I’ll look forward to seeing them again in future, with a little more training and stage experience under their belts.


The Creative Industries Drama Major course is designed to produce entrepreneurs who can find or create work in a number of fields. Performance Skills Laboratory 1 (Acting 101) has brought them to a point where they are (mostly) confident in the space, however, I suspect lack of time has been a hindrance on students’ understanding of the text, and also with regard to connecting voice and body and character. We get a more fully realised performance from a mature age student, Lyn Stevenson; the same woman who stood out from the rest in USC Drama’s debut production, R&J (2013).


The production cleverly incorporates Foster’s research by giving students’ responses to her text messages to white clad ensemble figures in between the familiar scenes. The focus shifts from Hamlet to Ophelia, and her death, which brings a sudden change in pace and an unexpected conclusion. The ensemble, like a Greek Chorus or a shiver of sharks, circle Ophelia on her pedestal/coffin and take their places downstage to remind us that mental health is, indeed, a serious issue.


The template is potentially a wonderful resource for schools and community groups. It deserves further dramaturgical development and I’d love to see it receive the funds that would make publishing possible. This way, the (anonymous) personal stories can be easily incorporated, making the original story and local content relevant to entirely new audiences.


Loth has big ideas and at times very little to work with, but her gift is in going beyond our expectations and boldly challenging our notions of what theatre is and what role it plays within contemporary society. The potential of performance, to change how we see the world and each other, is evident in each original production Loth undertakes.



USC Learning and Teaching Week

Okay! Firstly, sorry about the delayed reviews for OTHER DESERT CITIES, TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD, MEDEA & GREASE. I’m teaching again and writing a heap of copy that actually pays me at the moment and I’M TIRED. I’ll catch up, I promise, but in the meantime, you must know that you just can’t go wrong with Brisbane theatre right now! IT’S ALL GOOD!




I took Poppy to Grease and she LOVED it! I took Sam to Medea and he LOVED it! Aroha and I were stunned by the relevance and power of Tequila Mockingbird – it’s such a brilliant adaption and so current – and Mum and I actually recognised Other Desert Cities, by which I mean, THAT IS OUR FAMILY. Sort of…in the lead up to one of us publishing a book (no, it’s not me, it’s the Melbourne sister). So go to whatever you can manage to get to right now, before the madness of Brisbane Festival takes over the city and you find you’ve missed EVERYTHING THAT WAS ALREADY HERE. JUST SAYING.




This week is a big one at USC – it’s Learning and Teaching Week – celebrating all things learning and teaching, with the major focus being on blended learning: an agile response to a dynamic world. I live tweeted the opening ceremony this morning but I may have hashtagged both #usc ITweek AND #uscLTweek so you’ll probs have to search both. Sorry about that. Tired. What was so inspiring was the fact that USC are doing a heap of blended learning stuff already. And there’s a massive wish list, of course, but incorporating technology into teaching has been happening for some time now. The next phases are really exciting, and the next major event during the week (there is loads on so check out the program here) is George Siemen’s Keynote Address on Thursday afternoon.





Keynote address Professor George Siemens


Connecting learners: technology, change and higher education

by Professor George Siemens, Athabasca University Canada

When: Thursday 29 August, 4.30–6.30pm


Location: Innovation Centre Auditorium, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs Campus


The internet, mobile technologies, and social media have opened new opportunities for educators to connect with learners. Essentially, today’s technologies have thinned the walls of classrooms and enable learners to engage globally with peers and educators. These changes impact the role of educators in universities, the mode(s) of learning delivery, and even the roles of learners. This presentation will explore the changing world of education and consider how online and blended learning impacts control and responsibility in the learning process as well as the skills needed by learners to succeed.


  • Opening remarks
  • Twilight Keynote address — Professor George Siemens
  • Vote of Thanks –  Kylie Readman, Director, Centre for the Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching (C-SALT).
  • 2013 Learning and Teaching Week awards – Professor Greg Hill, Vice-Chancellor and President and Kylie Readman, Director, C-SALT.

USC Theatre

Opening Ceremony USC Theatre


About George Siemens



George Siemens is an academic and researcher on learning, technology, networks, analytics, and openness in education.


He is the author of Knowing Knowledge, an exploration of how the context and characteristics of knowledge have changed and what it means to organizations today, and the Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning. Knowing Knowledge has been translated into Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Persian, and Hungarian.


Dr. Siemens is the Associate Director of the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University, and a faculty member in the School of Computing and Information Services and the Centre for Distance Education.


He has delivered keynote addresses in more than 30 countries on the influence of technology and media on education, organizations, and society. His work has been profiled in provincial, national, and international newspapers (including NY Times), radio, and television.


His research has received numerous national and international awards, including an honorary doctorate from Universidad de San Martín de Porres for his pioneering work in learning, technology, and networks.


Dr. Siemens is a founding member and President of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (


In 2008, he pioneered massive open online courses (sometimes referred to as MOOCs) that have included more than 25,000 participants. He blogs at See also George Siemens’ interview on MOOCs and Open Education




The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein


The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein

USC Performing Arts Kollective (PAK)

The Lind

26th – 28th July 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 



“Mel writes happy songs” Susan Stroman


The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein is typical of the comedy we’ve come to know and love – or hate – since Spaceballs and The Producers.


It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s a little bit naughty; it’s a great choice for PAK, Sunshine Coast University’s Performing Arts Kollective. It’s their first musical and the show’s Queensland premiere.




We almost missed it! We spent the morning running around town and then let the new chooks out to roam free range while we had a ploughman’s lunch overlooking the pool. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Only, Honeycomb, our least cooperative chicken, didn’t like the idea of returning to the coop so we spent some time coaxing her with watermelon treats in our efforts to lure her back into her brand new home! This meant we had to literally run out the door (I almost ran out with my wellies on), to make the two o’clock matinee on Saturday.


The Lind, in Nambour, is the perfect Sunshine Coast venue for a student group to learn the ropes. This is PAK’s third show ever and it’s obvious they’re still learning the ropes. But look, they’re having fun and they’re getting audiences. We sat next to somebody who’d never been to the theatre – his girlfriend had a friend in the show. So if a group’s putting on new shows with new performers and getting new audiences, I don’t want to deter them. But I do want to see them start enlisting professionals on a regular basis to teach the necessary skill sets. These guys and girls can do better. They’re doing great! But they can do better. There’s a lot of talent in this group and it’s still largely undiscovered. There appears to be a little more confidence when it comes to choreography, but some strong acting and vocal work needs to happen next!




And look, it’s useless in this instance, in this local context, to point out any faults without offering to help, and so I have done; I’d love to work with these guys on something a little smaller, with more of the focus going to basic stagecraft, character, comic timing and ensemble work. Something like Let the Blood Run Free… Up until this point the group has worked entirely on their own to produce Night at the Movies and HERS & HIStory. I loved seeing Robyn Ernst’s good-humoured hand on this production though, and kudos must go to whoever deemed themselves worthy of a professional director. This is certainly a step in the right direction, with everybody involved benefitting directly from Robyn’s extensive knowledge and experience. Also, it must be said that The Lind team are doing everything right, attracting productions from all manner of professional and community groups, and doing their utmost to support the technical aspects of production. Theirs has become an excellent model for committee-run community theatre on the Sunshine Coast, or indeed, anywhere.




Brandon Maday (Dr Frederick Frankenstein) demonstrated through some of his most vibrant character, vocal and physical comedy work to date, just why he’s PAK’s preferred leading man of the moment, and Tara Bryan (Inga), Clinton Beckmann (Igor), Sharni Wilson (Frau Blucher) and Riette de Jager (Ziggy) showed solid commitment to their comical characters. As The Monster, Anthony Borsato did his best to show us two distinct sides of a one-dimensional character and handled well in the end, all of the “transference” nonsense!


Friends, look out for PAK – their energy is infectious, and it’s bringing into our theatres a whole new crowd!