This year our English drama group directed by Tony Kingston performed at the Festival of English-Language School Theatre (F.E.S.T.) In Mersch. The festival, organised by the BGT English Theatre Company and the ALEA, gave students from ten local schools the opportunity to perform their plays on a professional stage in front of an enthusiastic audience.
Over the course of three days each participating group performed a thirty-minute play, ranging from reimagined classics to comedies and plays dealing with current events.
Moreover, the students could take part in several workshops, which focussed on voice projection and improvisation. Thus, the students did not only perform their plays but the workshops allowed them to improve their acting and to discover new perspectives in their work.
The LMRL students were the last group to perform on the second day of the festival, their play was preceded by the LAML who successfully performed DNA by Dennis Kelly. The play tells the story of a group of students who have committed a crime and grow together through the process of covering it up. Despite its serious theme the performance was filled with comic allusions which left the audience shaken, but in a good mood at the end of the play.
After a short intermission, the time had finally come for our students, who performed War at home by Nicole Quinn and Nina Shengold. The play deals with the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York, an event which brought the usually far away war to people’s homes. The play is based on experiences of New York High School students who worked together with the playwrights to create the play. Hence, the play uses common language to explore a serious theme. War at home is, contrary to DNA, based on real events and at first one thinks it will be more serious and oppressive. However, the drama group managed to combine honest feeling, seriousness and comic relief in one to create a captivating and interesting performance.
At the beginning of the play the students slipped into the roles of ordinary students, who heard about the attacks at school. Even though the actors have no personal memory of the attacks, they conveyed feelings of fear, anger and disbelief in their performance. Switching from the school to the daily life of ordinary people the play shows the horror of people trying to reach their loved ones and the panic that followed the attack.
In their roles as High School students each student portrayed a specific attitude to the attacks such as racism, acceptance or anger. These reactions mirror the different reactions of people from all over the world after the attack. These scenes of intense emotion were relieved by an insight into how Hollywood producers would turn the attacks into an action film. This combination of honest feeling and comic relief made the play interesting and prevented it from becoming too depressing.
Ultimately, the point of view of the rescuers reminded the audience that the horror did not end after the attack. A final, powerful speech showed that the attacks were certainly horrible but that war will never be the right answer. People should learn from it and keep on hoping for a better future despite the horrible events.
Throughout the play the students managed to captivate the audience with their convincing acting, which led to well-deserved applause. In light of its connection to current events the entire audience could identify themselves with the actors and the described events, which contributed to the great success of the performance.