Company Summer Festival: The Telephone Hour and Peculiars

Summer is drawing to a close. We are so impressed with the level of creativity and dedication that our Junior and Senior Company students have demonstrated over the last few weeks.

Family, friends and all lovers of the performing arts were invited to attend our special Company Summer Festival Double Bill performances of The Telephone Hour  and Peculiars at the Valletta Campus Theatre on the 12th September.

Performed by SOPA’s Junior and Teen Companies, these devised performances really set the tone for a new scholastic year that promises to be bursting with events, workshops and productions.

The double bill performances were a fanstastic chance for us to see a full-year’s worth of training come to fruition. Students forming part of Junior and Senior Company go beyond the skill-learning level of singing, dance and drama that is promoted in the Fridays programme. While these disciplines remain the foundation of their craft, students are guided in the process of devising pieces, creating their own choreographies as well as original musical arrangements. Both performances in this double bill were completed devised by the students.

This contemporary method of theatre-making made the choice of venue all the more appropriate. Students kept their sets and props to a minimum, sound effects and mixes were composed by the students, and lighting design was a crucial tool to communicate changes in the theatre space. SOPA was also pleased to promote a multi-discilpinary mode of making theatre, by encouraging the students of the Senior Company to play live instruments for their musical accompaniment throughout the rehearsals and performance.

The Telephone Hour explored the relationship that we have with the ubiquitous mobile phone. Through a series of snapshot scenes, not unlike our numerous selfies and instagrammed photos, audiences were confronted with how ingrained these devices have become in our day-to-day lives – even from our childhood years. Interestingly, audience members were instructed not to silence their mobile phones, and were encouraged to answer any calls or notifications that they received throughout the performance.

In stark contrast, Peculiars told the story of two boys, separated by time, joined by family. We see Abraham Portman fighting his monsters during the German occupation of his homeland in World War Two. Decades later, we encounted his grandson, Jacob, fighting monsters of his own in an adventure riddled with mystery, time-travel, and some incredibly peculiar children. The Senior Company was encouraged to identifty and research a real World War Two victim/survivor to base their characters on for this performance.

SOPA would like to thank Matthew Gellel and Philippa Cassar for guiding the students in their development of the piece.

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