I was very pleased to see that Jersey Boys: the Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had been included on the VCE Theatre Studies playlist for 2010. It is a music theatre piece which examines themes of honour, love, betrayal and loyalty and looks at the lives of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from the 1950s to more recent times.It is a show with an interesting structure too. Tommy DeVito says in the play: “You ask four guys, you get four different answers”. So the writers, Elice and Brickman, decided to write the show to allow each of the four main characters to tell the story from his own perspective, as the group forms and rises in popularity, before personal problems cause conflict between the group members. Each character takes a turn at narrating to the audience.When looking at a theatre performance, it is important that students examine the ways in which the creative team has contributed to the production as a whole. The wiki I have developed to support Jersey Boys, has kept that in mind and I have gathered videos, podcasts and interviews with a variety of creative team members. For example, the set designer, Klara Ziegerova, has a professional site with some great photos of Jersey Boys sets. Interviews with her explain that she found inspiration in photographs by George Tice. After scouring the internet, I was able to locate these photos and a link is provided from the Backdrop Projections page. Examining these photos, and the Jersey Boys sets, students can clearly see how the designer has adapted elements from the photos to the set design.By viewing many of the links provided, I also hope that students will begin to appreciate how much research needs to be done by the creative team before they could begin their own part in the show. Those responsible for set design, multimedia projections, choreography, music direction and costumes, have all needed to research different elements in order to design something suitable for a stage production yet that remained faithful to The Four Seasons, New Jersey, and the era being portrayed.I have collected newspaper articles and videos about the Australian production of Jersey Boys. There are many videos available on the internet, especially on Youtube, and sorting through them allowed me to locate several pivotal scenes, and scenes where I could highlight examples of lighting, costuming or multimedia which had been used. Reviews are very important as they give some insight into the storyline, and will often comment on various creative parts of the production. In the case of Jersey Boys, the pop art multimedia projections were often mentioned. The images we see in Jersey Boys are reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art. Examination of Lichtenstein’s work leads to a deeper understanding of how, and why, they have been used in Jersey Boys.Wiki statistics have indicated that visitors are mostly from Australia, but also from USA, Great Britain and Canada, all countries which currently have a production of Jersey Boys. The most frequently visited pages include Pop Art images, the promotional DVD, articles and reviews, costume design and set design.I hope the Wiki will encourage students to take a critical look behind the scenes of Jersey Boys and really try to understand why different creative decisions have been made. The more students understand about the background of the piece they are studying, the more they will appreciate the show itself.
Whitefriars College teacher librarian Karen Kearney has developed a wicked wiki for VCE classes! Karen outlines the development of the resource; ‘The Theatre Studies boys at our school have been studying Wicked – The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz as part of their curriculum. It’s one of the plays on our VCE list.’
Karen explains how the wiki came about. ‘Earlier this year I attended the SLAV Conference featuring Will Richardson. Closely following this, all of Whitefriars College Library Staff, along with another staff member, completed the SLAV Web 2.0 “23 Things” course. These PD activities gave me many ideas of different and exciting ways in which information could be presented. Having already started blogging, I decided to try my hand at a Wiki.
‘Wikis have been used in the past at Whitefriars College. We have been a laptop computer school for many years now, and have a great intranet. Wikis for classroom use have been developed as part of the intranet, but I wanted something on the internet which many people could share.’
Karen continues, ‘Setting up a wiki really couldn’t have been simpler. Wikispaces was suggested as a good location for an educational Wiki. Following my first effort I found myself with a nice Wiki, complete with advertisements all down the side! After discussion with a colleague, I discovered that Wikispaces offer a place where teachers can create a Wiki without fees, and without advertising, for educational purposes.’
Karen says, ‘I have long had an interest in musical theatre, and was delighted to hear from our Theatre Studies boys that they were going to study Wicked – The Untold Stories of the Witches of Oz, as part of their VCE curriculum. I have seen the show on Broadway, and our Australian production, so knew it well. Furthermore, technical aspects of theatre fascinate me so I set out to find many articles on the Internet which take a back stage look at the show. I came up with many relevant articles, interviews, reviews, podcasts and YouTube videos, all of which discuss different aspects of the show. This information supports, and extends, that already provided by the Theatre Studies teacher.
‘The Teacher Librarian in me wanted to bring a reading perspective to the Wiki, and so I added a page about Gregory Maguire, the author of the book Wicked. Several of his books are listed there, as is his web site. Perhaps this might encourage some of our students to explore his other work.‘
Finally, when the Wiki was near completion, Karen sent the link to the Theatre Studies class, their teacher, and other students and teachers she thought would be interested. She then sent an email to the OZTL_Net Teacher Librarians list, asking that anyone who wished to share the link should do so with their students and teachers. Karen does warn potential users that ‘YouTube video links have been included and I’m aware that not all schools will be able to view those.’
Thanks to Karen for sharing her valuable resource with us! Well done Karen.