“Drama teachers are committed to liaising with the broader community to enhance our students’ learning experiences in the classroom, so when we find an industry expert of the caliber of Clint Bolster, artistic director of Homunculus Theatre Company, we want to shout it out to the world. Clint’s pedagogy is unique and inspiring, resulting from 15 years of experience. Homunculus Theatre Company can level students to an equal playing field, giving all permission to ‘play.’ This liberates all to express themselves in a safe and fun environment. In this age of technology, live drama experiences are vital for our young people to encounter “joy, vulnerability, physical discipline, and freedom of expression.” Comedy balances the fearful world that is the 21st Century. It is essential to offer these learning experiences to assist our students in developing a more positive slant on our human condition.
Queensland drama teachers must fight for live performances where live humans in space speak to other live humans, and it needs to be physical Theatre. Physical Theatre is our savior because heavy language art is easy to access through live streams, computers, and so on – and this misses that extraordinary atmosphere and sense of shared curiosity that Theatre gives. Homunculus Theatre Company’s performances provide opportunities to see physical Theatre’s artistic and creative forms, e.g., Masked Theatre, Absurd, Clowning, and Commedia dell’Arte. These styles concentrate on Comedy and non-verbal communication. There is no other Brisbane company that explores this universal language, e.g. (a) nonverbal communication of attitudes and emotions and manipulation of the immediate social situation, (b) nonverbal communication as a support and complement of verbal communication, and (c) nonverbal communication as a replacement for language. In these times of government cuts, drama teachers must support those companies that exhibit the future of Theatre.
Homunculus Theatre Company offers Primary and secondary students more than just a performance, i.e., meeting the actors, workshops, tutorials, and in-school Residencies, something that a teacher cannot deliver in the same manner. Providing role models for our students cannot be undervalued, particularly when our young people are mainly exposed to female teachers. Corinda SHS has had the opportunity to see two of Homunculus’s shows, “The Spirit of the Mask” and “20 Lazzis in a Hat,” and met Clint, Nick Cilento, and Allie Wilde. These performances entertained the students from years 7 to 12 and seemed to unite them; such is the power of Comedy. Just as thrilling was question time when the students were exposed to the actors, their passion for performing, why they are committed to it, the hard work that goes into it, and when they found drama was their calling. This was highly inspirational and prompted some very heartfelt responses from the students.
Homunculus Theatre Company’s workshops allow our students to be expressive, show more of themselves and give them the tools to create generous, responsible, and authentic drama. Students are inherently curious and learn much from industry artists because they represent people committed to making these live 3-D experiences. It would be hard to find a company. This longevity is a testament to the company delivering curriculum-relevant learning experiences that ready our drama students for the new world of live Theatre.
Corinda SHS’s year ten drama class participated in a day workshop with Clint, and by the end of the day, they celebrated how much they had developed. The workshop opened the world of non-verbal communication. They acknowledged how afraid they felt initially, being spontaneous, taking risks, and laughing at themselves. Their anxiousness about ‘letting go’ is part to do with age. Still, it is also a direct result of not participating in the comedy exercises and games Clint offered. These learning experiences, delivered by Clint, come from years of experience including, e.g., working with mentors and fellow actors as well as abled and disabled students and international professional companies, e.g., Vamos Theatre Company UK. This workshop provided terrific professional development for the teachers as well; in fact, this day workshop opened our eyes to the importance of providing these learning experiences for the emotional health of our students.
Homunculus Theatre Company is committed to building relationships with Queensland schools. Clint’s commitment to designing experiences that suit the context and students of the school cannot be underestimated. Drama teachers have this resource that breaks down many barriers and makes our students comfortable, opening many doors for communication. Corinda SHS has chosen Homunculus to be our Theatre Company in residence, firstly because Corinda values physical Theatre being the lifeline of drama and because of the quantifiable results in student development after a workshop run by Clint. He delivers expert tuition on the critical and challenging skills needed for ensemble comedy. It is not simple but complex Theatre that evokes thought.
Drama Practitioner Clint Bolster and Homunculus is the ‘face of’ Masked Theatre, and it is an alive, modern, engaging face that can connect with all grades, genders, cultures, and abilities. Clint’s use of Masked Theatre allows students to engage in a socially aware style of Theatre that can be hard to access in a general classroom. Schools across the state may not always have access to resources such as masks. So, allowing Homunculus to demonstrate this art form would capture the audience and build their appreciation for the endless opportunities to manipulate non-verbal communication in drama.
For drama teachers, ‘building relationships with the wider community and connecting to the world is our mantra, and this is one company we can access and build a relationship with. (For motivation, read Padua College’s comments on “20 Lazzis in a Hat” on Homunculus’s Website.) This is one expert who creates theatrical performances and produces a theoretical discourse that informs his practical work. Drama teachers know that Theatre helps us to develop our creativity. The Foundation for Young Australia analyzed 4.2 million job adverts for entry-level jobs and found a 150% increase in creative thinking and a 65% increase in creativity. As explored in physical Theatre, the link between drama and creative thinking and creativity is endless. As our education system increasingly emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and math, we cannot forget the importance of art. Let’s put the “STE(A)M” back in “STEM!”
Mau Billiau, Drama Coordinator, Corinda State High School, Queensland.