‘The Visit’ by Friedrich Durrenmatt: School Production, Friday 3rd May 2019
Working with pupils from Years 7 to 11 on the school production is always a privilege; their energy, their commitment, their talent is second to none. We have great fun and work extremely hard. This year was a challenge. We like a challenge. Challenge is important. Challenge makes you strong.
‘The Visit’ by Friedrich Durrenmatt is an amazing play.
Claire Zachanassian, now a multimillion heiress and an older woman, returns to the impoverished town of her youth with a dreadful bargain.
Set in a small town somewhere in Central Europe, the play opens on a gaggle of unemployed townsmen who sit at a railway station in the fictional town of Güllen, awaiting the arrival of the billionaires. They bemoan the deterioration of their home; Güllen was once a renowned cultural capital but has since fallen into a deep and devastating economic depression. Its impoverished citizens nevertheless hold out hope for their township—hope that Ms. Zachanassian, might endow the town’s restoration. Alfred Ill, Güllen’s “most popular man” and mayor-to-be, is leading a campaign to secure Claire’s donation; they were close in their youth, and he expects that he should be able to leverage his relationship to her to get to her millions.
A macbre parable, The Visit explores the themes of love, revenge, justice and greed. Will the population of Guellen be willing to sacrifice loyalty and scruples in the pursuit of riches?
This year, the production was a very hard play to ‘bring to life’. How can you bring out the humour of the piece, whilst still communicating a strong message?
The pupils, all of them, rose to the challenge and they did find it hard. Being part of a production like this is an amazing experience; an experience pupils will take with them forever. They worked as a tight ensemble, where everyone played a vital role in making the production a huge success. No one person is more important than any other. The students worked together with the staff to create incredible work. Everyone is included. And everyone is valued for their contribution.
Sometimes we get asked why drama is important. Why should Drama be on the curriculum? Why on earth do we go to the effort to put on a production every year? Drama is important for so many reasons. It is great fun; the ‘buzz’ you get from being involved in a project like this stays with you forever, you make fantastic friends but also it teaches the students lessons that will help them to go on and be successful in life no matter what career path they choose. It teaches students to challenge the world around them, it teaches them to question, to work hard (very hard), to be part of something that is bigger than themselves.
We also have to say a huge thank you to everyone behind the scenes, who helped to bring this wonderful and challenging play to life.