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Wednesday November 22, 2017

Brecht’s Epic in contemporary style By Julia Czerwonatis

Actors of the capital’s youngest theatre company are set to perform Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle coming month. Claudia Petrie from Kelburn and Karori local Sol Maxwell will be two of five actors to star in the Wellington Young Actors production tackling political and social issues which are scarily relevant in today’s society. “The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a relatively old play, so we modernised and linked it to contemporary topics,” Claudia explains. “The play has quite a serious plot, but it’ll also have a lot of smart and humorous moments,” Sol adds. Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle was first performed in 1948. It’s a play-within-a-play, telling the story of two Soviet Union communes which are arguing over who will take over farmland that the Nazis have abandoned in their retreat. One of the communes organises a skit, based on an old folk tale

Wellington Young Actors Alex Dhelps, Sol Maxwell, Claudia Petrie, Gabe Parkin and Maya Symmans de Vere Green. PHOTO: Julia Czerwonatis

to be played to cast light on the situation. “We chose The Caucasian Chalk Circle last year when someone said to us, teenagers would not understand anything

about politics because they were simple-minded folk,” Deborah Rea, drama teacher and Wellington Young Actors manager, says. “Whenever someone says ‘you cannot do this’, we tend to throw

it back at them in proving them wrong. “It was around that time last year when a lot of partially scary, partially comical things happened, including the Trump campaign

and John Key’s resignation. So we were inspired by that.” The young actors have been using theatrical techniques like Laban and the Rotenburg System to establish their given characters and correctly convey them in the genre of Brecht’s Epic Theatre. Through clever chorus work and individual character performance, Wellington Young Actors give a glimpse into a world of impossible choices, social and political injustices, uprisings and war. The political games, propaganda and looming threat of war of the 1940s felt so familiar to the teenagers that they decided to set the play in today’s times. Not only are they acting in their production but they also manage all production roles such as designing the set, costumes and posters and handling the marketing and fundraising and production management.  Wellington Young Actors will perform from December 11-15 at The Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street. To book tickets, visit Eventfinda.co.nz.

Seeking answers to big questions Forty talented senior secondary school students will be tasked to find answers to challenging questions posed by scientists at Powering Potential coming month. Organised by Royal Society Te Aparangi in partnership with Freemasons New Zealand, Powering Potential will bring many of New Zealand’s most promising science students together to work alongside professionals, who will act as their mentors over three days.

Olivia Paxie from St Mary’s College as well as Isabella O’Meeghan and Anjali Gentejohann from Samuel Marsden Collegiate will represent the northern and western communities. “The students will need to think outside the square and use their creative capabilities to find solutions,” Andrew Cleland, chief executive of Royal Society Te Aparangi, says. “They will also need to work well in a team situation and

will be required to hone their research skills. “At the end of the three days, each team will present its findings at a special presentation.” To be selected for Powering Potential, each student was required to submit an in-depth application and video, which focused on their own science strengths or how they have contributed to an area of science in their school or community. The students have been selected because they are serious

about going on to study science at a tertiary level and have demonstrated a passion for science. “The calibre of the students who applied was excellent and some tough decisions had to be made by the selection panel to get the number down to 40”. This year’s theme, past, present and future science, is inspired by the 150th anniversary celebration of the Royal Society. Following the footsteps of former society members, one team of students will be mentored by

a scientist from the Sleep/Wake Research Centre from Massey University to research the effects of daylight saving on our circadian rhythms. Other institutions that will join the programme include the Plant & Food Research, Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Dunning Thornton, Ferrier Research Institute, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Ministry of Primary Industries and University of Otago.

Rolling up the sleeves to get Makara Beach rubbish free Sustainable Coastlines invites the western community to join them in a coastal clean-up of Ohau Bay and Makara Beach next Saturday. “Although these areas are well looked after by the locals, this spectacular coastline is affected by a regular flow of waste from the South Island aquaculture farms, the Whanganui River and international fishing boats,” Oliver Vetter, Wellington region programmes manager, says. “So we’re going to give it a good pre-summer clean up. Sustainable Coastlines has been working with Meridian Energy to raise awareness and support coastal clean-ups around Wellington since 2012. Next to cleaning coastlines and waterways, the charity delivers educational programmes to people around the country and plant trees. “We’d love for you to join us for a fantastic day of adventure and exploration, all while giving back to the beautiful Makara Beach and the coastline below Meridian’s

West Wind Farm,” Oliver says. “We’re also asking people to bring their own 4WDs, or jump in one that is provided to join the convoy. “This will be a unique opportunity to explore the incredibly beautiful Ohau Bay that has limited public access.”  The community clean-up will go ahead on Saturday, December 2, from 9.30am-2pm. Helpers meet at the Sustainable Coastlines’ “Education Station” (a modified shipping container) at Makara Beach from 9.30am to sign-in and collect equipment. At 10am everyone will split into teams and head out along the coastline on foot and by 4WD vehicle to clean up the coastline. Refreshments and lunch will be available free for registered participants. Register free via sustainablecoastlines.org/events or email Oliver on oliver@sustainablecoastlines.org.

A community clean-up is planned for Ohau Bay and Makara Beach next Saturday. PHOTO: Stewart Baird/Flickr.com

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