Kaleidoscope: The musical

A message from the Associate Vice-Chancellor (Victoria) Dr John Ballard.

Dr Beth Rankin, lecturer in Creative Arts Education from the School of Education approached me in March of this year to support the concept of a ‘pop-up’ musical themed on social justice issues. What started as a conversation over coffee evolved into a sophisticated performance delivered in Cathedral Hall last Friday with a show at mid-day and another at 6pm that was filmed before a live audience.

The music was written and performed by ACU students as an extra-curricular activity over a four week period culminating in the world premiere 1 June of Kaleidoscope: The musical. The flyer described the show as “a witty, fast paced, heart rending look at extraordinary tales of heroism”. To ensure success, the students were supported by four expert musical theatre pedagogues and practitioners under the direction of Warren Wills, a composer, musical director, and performer who has worked with many of the world’s best cabaret, opera, jazz and classical artists.

Warren is the Musical Director for the November 2018, 80th anniversary memorial concert of Night of Broken Glass, commemorating the co-ordinated night of persecution of Jewish communities across Germany by the Nazi Party in 1938, known as Kristallnacht. This show celebrates the work of Yorta Yorta elder Mr William Cooper who stood in solidarity with the Jewish people when no state or other citizen protest has been recorded. He attempted to deliver a petition to the German Consulate but was rebuffed with the Consulate symbolically accepting the petition from his descendant in 2012.

Kaleidoscope also celebrates William Cooper and his attempt to name the discrimination against those crying for justice and seek redress. The cast and crew have been invited to participate in the November concert with a reprise of their outstanding performance.

Dr Rankin said: “For the past five years that I have been teaching at ACU, students have regularly approached me to ask if there is a musical or other drama performing arts event that they could take part in. Students who have taken part in school productions in either primary or high school come to university hoping there will be a Uni Review or other more sophisticated performance opportunity that will give them the social and artistic benefits known to be outcomes of participation”.

These benefits include: to engage in critical issues of social justice; an opportunity for students to write and perform their own musical; to work with professional musicians; to build confidence; heighten collaborative skills and provide rich opportunities to develop expressive and creative recreation on campus.

Kaleidoscope has proven to be a great success, attracting external interest and funding to support the November production. I wish to congratulate Beth, the cast, crew, musicians and musical director Warren Wills for raising our awareness of community injustice and providing a forum to showcase student and community talent.

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