Our Country's Good

AND THEY DID..............!Our-Country-s-Good 5890

Our Country's Good is a 1988 play written by British playwright, Timberlake Wertenbaker.

The play's first production was at the Royal Court Theater in London.


The story is a matter of historical record. It concerns a group of Royal Marines and convicts in a penal colony in New South Wales (Australia), in the 1780s, who put on a production ofThe Recruting Officer by Our-Country-s-Good 5719George Farquhar, directed by 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Clark.The play shows the class system and violence in the convict camp and the idea that it is possible for « theater to be a humanising force » that has the power to transform even those whom society considers unredeemable. Many of the military officers, as Major Robbie Ross, were against this idea. With Governor Phillip's sanction, Ralph and his players overcame a severe adversity to realize the production of the play.10


The action is sometimes interrupted by short speeches from an unnamed Aboriginal Australian, who charts the British settlement's effect on the indigenous populations : curiosity, confusion, and finally fear and illness.

The young actors had to perform roles with strong personalities and complex,far removed from their world, but they are able to capture that story that touched them and they worked hard for this great result. All have played fair and gave life to their characters be it an enlightened man, like Governor Philip (Charlotte Slater), an officer 35convinced of his superiority of race and cast, as Major Ross (Lefa Mondon), a captive rebel like Liz (Eugenie Lawson), sweet as Mary (Agathe Pervier), love as Duckling (SelenaChalet), combative as Dabby (Manon Ardeois). The public could only beshocked by the harshness of officers, Tench (Constance Levy-B), Dawes(Leanne Gaury), Johnston (Emily Trémoureux), Campbell (Louise Parsons),Faddy (Coline Bedel) all well drawn, which semi defended slavery of prisoners, each with their arguments or no argument, such as Captain Campbell and his strange humour. The evolution of Captain Collins (Constance Armangaud) was finely expressed. Finally, we must salute the remarkable performance of Ralph (Quentin Carlier), a character on stage all throughout the play, or opportunistic careerist at first, then convinced of the benefits of this theatrica18l adventure. We laugh at the Reverend Johnson (Taipei Dlamini) conscious of good character in the camp. The madness of poor Harry (Pierre Thierry), the Midship, was poignant. The male prisoners were real figures: Ketch (Guillaume Dubert), despite his executioner, Sideway (Pauline Legal) the flexible pickpocket passionate about theater, Wisehammer (Delphine Dubert and Coline Bedel) the reader of dictionaries, Ascott (Emilie Trémoureux) who finds peace in acting, Black Cesar (Kaohsiug Dlamini) lost on these shores. And we will long remember the Aborigine (Taipei Dlamini) shouting his helpless distress.

The play opened with a moving song led by Charlotte Slater followed by the chorus of others actors, and immediately after the lashes suffered by Sideway.
The simplicity of the decor consists of several cubes arranged in stage showcased the sinister threat of rope hanging the unfortunate prisoners. Thus was realized on stage the two poles of the debate that carries the show: to punish or educate the scene.Our-Country-s-Good 5856

Julien Gely was to be governed and organized a set of lights which outlined the action steps.
Final 1Finally the costumes prepared by Mrs. Chalet served the acting and brought harmony of colors and shapes.

One can only admire the quality of this show, to celebrate this wonderful evening and congratulations to all those who participated.

All on stage

Theatre in English project 2011-2012

     Since last September, 19 students from the 2nde, 1èreand Terminale classes of the British Section as well as one 2nde student who loves theatre have been working on performing a contemporary English play, under Mrs Blasco's direction.

   They have been rehearsing on Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 4 pm in the High School amphitheatre and have also been able to rehearse for two whole weekends in situ at the La Baule MJC, on the very stage where both performanceswill take place. Julien GELY, actor and director, helped the students with the staging of the play.

     Our Country 's Good is a play written in 1988 by Timberlake Wertenbaker.

     An upcoming blog post will cover this topic at length. The action takes place in the 18th century, in Australia, where the English Royal Navy escorted convicts, future settlers of that country.

     On January 25, the British Section blogger attended the rehearsal and interviewed the young actors as well as their teacher.

     Right away, Mrs Blasco reminds everyone that theatre work requires concentration and attention. They are indeed focused but this afternoon is also about sharing the pleasure of acting. Six weeks away from show time, each of them has gotten into his or her character and knows how to move about the stage. Nearly all of them have mastered their lines. This particular rehearsal is about delivery, tone of voice and gestures. While one group is on stage, the rest of the students rehearse in the hallway, go over their lines or watch the actors.


How did their desire to participate in this theatre project come about?

I’ve been acting for 2 years, says Pierre who is in Terminale S, last year, I played some small characters, but it’s always interesting and this play is part of this year’s curriculum.

Kaohsiung et Taipei , both TS students, add that they always enjoy acting and thatperforming contemporary theatre after having performed Shakespeare is simpler and it’s easier to understand the Répétition 5theme of the play.Kaohsiung thinks that the play can move everyone. Guillaume, also a TS student,regretted not performing last year and took the opportunity he got this year. Eugénie and Lefa from 1ere S have always wanted to perform theatre. Agathe feels the same way. The 2nde students are taking part for the first time in the preparation of an entire play but Quentin, Pauline, Agathe and Constance already performed a scene fromMacbeth at the 10thanniversary of the British Section in 2011. Finally, Émilie, who is not a British Section student, has been performing on stage since CM2, and has even been noticed by Laurent Deutsch who saw her in Mozart. What she’d like to do now is improve her English.


Which characters do they play? Did they easily get in character? How did they accomplish that?

-Mrs Blasco explains that in this play, there are 18 roles, but the playwright requested that only 9 actors perform when the play was first staged. The author also wanted each actor to play a character that would completely differ from their own identity i.e. a man would play a woman and vice versa. There are far more than 9 students in the theatre group and respecting this wish was not possible, but since this play is built on a play within a play principle, the young actors still have to play some pretty disconcerting roles.

For instance, Pauline plays Robert Sideway, a pickpocket prisoner, sweet Eugénie plays a particularly rebellious female prisoner, Lefa is THE bad guy in the play, an imposing officer who is absolutely against putting on a theatre play in the colony...

-My character, Harry, is insane, the people he killed talk through him, it’s not an easy part and on top of that, he’s a sailor whose language is more unusual that the other prisoners’. I worked with Mrs Blasco as well as at home, says Pierre. It’s definitely not easy to play a character so different from yourself, emphasizes Eugénie, I have to focus and even watched a video on Youtube in which Vanessa Bolt goes through an angry monologue, which helped me. Pauline agrees: acting requires a lot of energy.  And Guillaume who plays James Freeman, (the man named Ketch because he was forced by the other characters to become the executioner), finds this role complex, all the more so because theRépétition 3 character is very concerned about how other people perceive him and has to evolve.

Lefa had to find ways to compensate for her small stature: I yell, raise my voice, I work on gestures, stand on a table...Delphine also found it difficult to play a male character. Thankfully, she got some coaching from William, Mrs Blasco‘s son.

Louise also plays a weird character.But some of the actresses did not find it too hard to play their respective role: Charlotte, because she plays a character with whom she agrees, Agathe and Constance because they share some personality traits with their characters. Quentin plays his character, Ralph, with pleasure but notes that 300 lines of text is a lot!


What does theatre bring to the students’ lives?

-They unanimously say how much it improves their English skills, but also mention much more: It allows me to see how far I can go, says Eugénie. It gives me confidence and self assurance states Pauline,  I’m having fun, I’m meeting people, I’m discovering this play, explains Lefa, and I learned a lot about theatre. Constance adds : It helps with self expression, oral expression and now, when I’m reading a book, I pay more attention to the psychology of the characters and to the way they interact. And it also brought together a dynamic group, we learn to get to know people. Agathe approves: it’s great when we are all together. They all said  it’s great! It’s fantastic!

Mrs Blasco mischievously concludes that, in this play where the characters become beginner actors learning how to perform in a theatre play, there are times when the text describes exactly what is happening for the students who are going through this experienceand when the director, herself, findsRépétition 6 in the play the same patient comments that she makes to her young students.


There’ll be more Wednesday rehearsals and even another Sunday of work on February 26. Two performances are scheduled, one for Friday March 2 and the other for Saturday March 3 at 19h30 at the La Baule MJC.


Ten students from the theatre group as well as 20 students from the British Section 1ere will be attending a performance of Macbeth on February 9.

The play is performed in English by the students of the British Section of the Lycée de Saint-Germain-en-Laye under the direction of Mrs Claire Lewis.

« This theatre group has been a source of inspiration for Grand Air ever since our first visit to their location in 2003 to see The Norman Conquests. This experience made our then students want to get started in English-speaking theatre. The 'Why can't we do that?'son the bus trip back gave birth to a theatre group, ever changing naturally, but always awed by the magic of the theatre. The renewal of a school theatre group has to take place each year, sometimes with challenges at the beginning, but the combination of the enthusiasm of the newcomers and the ease that experience brings make for an enriching experience for all participants » emphasizes Mrs Blasco.


Translated by Sylvie Wiggins

Workshop session around a theater play

Theatre in English offers workshop sessions around a theater play.
They are a fun complement to the conventional preparation and study of the plays in class. The activities allow an exploration of themes, situations and characters in the play through improvisations and theater games. The workshop is entirely in English and the students no longer think about the language difficulty and speak more spontaneously in English.
On Tuesday 20 and Wednesday, March 21 we were able to obtain 2 full-day workshop with four three-hour sessions (9:30 am to 12h30 and 14h to 17h), which led to a presentation by the students of their own version of the text.
Since this project is fully financed by the Parents Association of the British section, it is offered to the entire class without exception, on school time because it has a great educational, linguistic and cultural interest.

The play, this year, will be "The Importance of Being Earnest 'by Oscar Wilde.


The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale

25 students of the British section of Grand-Air rehearsed every Wednesday afternoon starting in September, to prepare for two representations of William Shakespeare'sThe Winter's Tale. It was then played in English, March 18th and 19th at the MJC of La Baule. This play was really enjoyable. We thank the students and their English teacher Mrs Helena Blasco, who directed the production of the play with the help of Mrs Lucie Baudin.

The Winter's Tale was most likely played for the first time in 1611.

The title suggests a tale told in winter near the fireplace. The imaginary and poetic setting hides, in fact, a more serious subject. Happily, the tragedy of the jealousy ends with a reconciliation, particularly moving in this play presented by the students. They were very successful at portraying different emotions and feelings.

The young actors were remarkable. We have to mention them all because each of them gave life to their character(s). To begin with, the young Olivier Laillé student in sixième (6h grade) played with freshness the role of Maximilius, innocent victim of the jealous delirious state of Leontes.

The moment when the sick spirit of the King collapses was interpreted in a delicate manner by Jasper Eaton. Queen Hermione's grace and dignity were expressed by the touching Cloe Parent. She was supported by her attentive ladies, Leane Gaury, Corinne Chancerel, Laeticia Garbaccio, and Celestine Denèle – who was also the kindMopsa, a shepherdess accompanied by malicious Dorcas, played by Manon Sauteron. The clever Paulina was incarnated by Caroline Lemarié.

King Polixenes, moved by the events, was played with preciseness by Olivier Blasco. William Bruch was the good Camillo. The beautifulcouple of lovers was ideally represented by Selena Chalet as Perdita, and Julien Dersy as Florizel.

Benjamin Smith as the Old Shepherd was successful at playing an octogenarian and Charlotte Coyle, as the Clown, his son, expressed all the vivacity of the role.

Pierre-Arthur Michaud, as the devoted Antogonus, ended up being devoured by a bear while his associate, the Mariner Romain Grizaud was running away. Pierre Thierry, Kenzo Szyjan, Mathieu Gaborit who played the Lords, were worthy of admiration. We enjoyed to see Matthew Coyle as a charming musician. Finally, Time, as a chorus, was represented by two young actresses with sumptuous dresses, Kaohsiung Dlamini and Taipei Dlamini. They portrayed the double face of Time, joy and terror, good and bad...

But who was the bear ?

All actors showed a good mastery of Shakespeare's language. Louison Lérein played the flute with talent. The public was filled with admiration for the dancers : Pauline Baudu, Selena Chalet, Charlotte Coyle, Célestine Denèle, Julien Dersy, Jasper Eaton, Laeticia Garbaccio, Romain Grizaud, Bryoni Hird, Pierre-Arthur Michau, Manon Sauteron, Pierre Henry. The very simple scenery was expressive and cleverly used while the lighting supported the acting beautifully.

The play presented to the public the damages caused by Leontes's jealousy – cold and death – and the reconciliation, promise of rebirth. The young actors and their professor, Mrs. Blasco, were applauded with enthusiasm.

This great success prepares the students for the OIB. The exam requests a good knowledge of The Winter's Tale.  

Translated by N.R., L.S., E.B.

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