Very melodramatic

Melodramatic scenes at Dominic College!

Year 9-10 Elective Drama students have been turning their hands to full blown 19th Century Melodrama. They have looked at the English models with their preoccupation with spectacle and sensation, stock character types, the codes that audiences expected such as the bass voiced villain, dressed in black and soprano for the suffering heroine, of course, dressed in white.

The main element in Melodrama was music. Melodrama is simply, drama with music. The style was hijacked by film in the early 1900s and the debt owed to Melodrama in film and television today is quite startling.

Students have looked at how Australian Melodrama evolved into its own distinctive style with bull-voiced bushrangers and plucky Aussie heroines who could outshoot, outride and outwit the English ‘new chums’.

Students are preparing scenes from The Sunny South, the first home grown Australian Melodrama.

Australian Melodrama was considerably more irreverent of authority and poked fun at the Anglo model. Students are learning how to handle the vocal and physical exaggeration and the visually based performance style drawn from the fact that the majority of the audience for melodrama was illiterate.

Their theatrical experience however was for more developed than today’s audiences. The average citizen in Melbourne in the second half of the 1800s attended the theatre on average 2-3 times a week.

Our students are responding well to the larrikin nature of Australian Melodrama.

(Above are photos - Jak Gutteridge, the Australian hero meets the English heroine, Matilda McGovern and the Good Old Man, Lachlan Rowlands. Liam Grealish and Daniel Nguyen as the villainous bushrangers.)

Mr Mike O’Brien - Director of Creative Arts K-10