“It’s looking at things another way…” – Fiyero
This line, from the popular West-End Musical “Wicked”, resonated with the Grade 9 class as they headed to the Apollo Theatre. Throughout their recent Fantasy Fiction Unit in English, students had explored different ways of thinking about literature, as well as the ethical parameters of the genre as a whole. In-depth studies into the early origins of this genre through Aesop’s Fables, the classic perspective in the text The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the more contemporary take in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, had prepared the class to critique this stage spin-off.
In spite of the rain, and challenges of the Tube strikes, the Grade 9 class were buzzing with anticipation as we headed toward Victoria. Once there, the students were ushered to their seats in the centre of the theatre; the energy of the audience was tangible, only to be heightened as the lights dimmed and the curtain rose to reveal a mystical fantasy-scape complete with flying monkeys, a life-size dragon, and characters dressed in shimmering emerald costumes and hats.
As the play progressed, we found ourselves wrapped up in a world of complex friendships, moral dilemmas, and moving displays of friendship. Aside from the incredible repertoire of songs, which included the smash-hit “Defying Gravity” to which the Grade 9 girls sang along heartily, the play presented moments of deep reflection and questioning. As the audience, we were forced to consider our own prejudices and values, particularly in a world of increasing globalisation. Apart from the more serious elements of the play, we also enjoyed the visual spectacle presented through astounding stage work, designer costumes, pyrotechnics, and animatronics.
Leaving the theatre, the students continued to chatter about their favourite scenes, songs, and characters. They were impressed by the quality of the performances, as well as the “justice” it did to the original Baum text.
In all, the Grade 9 trip to “Wicked” was the perfect way to solidify an understanding of the Fantasy Fiction genre. Additionally, it opened up a new dimension of performance art which will hopefully inspire our budding Halcyon dramatists.
Thanks goes to Ms. Zago and Ms. Cooke for accompanying myself and the class on this truly magical trip.
By Michelle Jones, English Teacher