by Gemma Bayly, Head student, Kaipara College
Near the end of term 2, the Kaipara College performing arts department presented the 2021 school production, Level Up. This year’s production was a bit different from other years.
Level Up was written by students, mainly Chris Rowe (year 12), with help from Ezra Moki (year 13) and Steve Lunt (drama teacher). Level Up also had four different sets, meaning that the audience moved during the evening. The production was originally supposed to be performed in 2020, but lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions meant that they couldn’t hold it then.
Level Up is a dystopian story about four tribes trapped in a video game. Earth is dying and the tribes are trying to win the game to reach the final water source. In the first act, the audience was split into 4 and led between the sets by Sherpa. Here, they watched the tribes preparing to take on the final levelof the game. In the second act, all the tribes and audience met in the hall for the final showdown.
Level up was directed by Steve Lunt, the Kaipara College drama teacher. 29 students from years 9-13 were part of the cast, as well as other students who helped with the set and costume. Many students were able to gain NCEA credits from their work. The cast had been rehearsing hard for 8 weeks before the shows.
As an audience member, moving between the sets made the show more interesting. For the people involved with the production, the four sets were challenging to work with. The cast had to perform the same scene four times in each night to each different audience. This was tiring for them, but they managed to pull it off. Each member of the cast got to have plenty of stage time to showcase their talent.
Extra work had to be put in to design and build the sets. Most of the set design and construction was done by year 13 students Grace O’Brien, Ruby Williams, Sam Stenning and Ezra Moki. They had a sleepover at school the weekend before the production to finish building the sets in time for the show. This was well worth it because the sets were engaging and full of detail. One of the sets included a rotating circle as part of the stage. Another set was outside, with barrels full of fire surrounding it to keep the audience warm. One had a chequered floor, and another was on a snakes and ladders mat.
The production was a huge success and the people who watched thoroughly enjoyed it. The show was very professional and well executed. It was excellent to see a production that had been created by Kaipara College students from writing right through to the final performance.