Young actors tackle beloved WA story of Jasper Jones

Margaret River SHS drama students are deep into the rehearsal process for their upcoming production of Western Australian drama, Jasper Jones. 

Set in the fictional town of Corrigan in the mid 1960s, this coming of age story follows fourteen -year- old Charlie Bucktin, in the middle of a moonlit night, to help Jasper Jones.

Beginning as a murder mystery, the play explores the fragility of individuals struggling with the racism, isolation and brutality of a remote Australian town in the 60s.

Charlie and Jasper are faced with the violent death of a teenage girl and then the discovery of the horrific secrets linked to this death.

The comical and touching play features some confronting moments and is recommended for 15+ audiences due to adult themes and coarse language. 

MRSHS Head of Drama Meredith McCormack commended the efforts of the student cast and crew. 

"As director I would like to acknowledge the courage of Tyrell McKenzie Roe," she said. 

"Tyrell attended Margaret River Senior High School and has returned to Margaret River from Broome.

"Having never acted before he has committed to the challenging role of Jasper Jones with enthusiasm and focus."

Ms McCormack said Tyrell would be well supported in the role by Year 10, 11 and 12 drama students, with a unique approach to casting.  

"These students are all facing an extensive rehearsal program as we prepare for our shows," she said. 

"To ensure equitable stage time the lead roles of Charlie Bucktin and Eliza Wishart will be shared by students who "rotate" in these parts during the show.

"The costume will remain the same to avoid confusion for the audience and all actors playing these roles will be introduced to the audience at the start of the show.

"This approach is one that allows more students to share challenging roles and means no one has a role that is too demanding for an upper school student."

Year 10 student Zhao (Jack) Zhengyang moved to Margaret River from China in 2017 and has been cast as Charlie Bucktin's best friend, a Vietnamese boy named Jeffrey Lu. 

"Jack's charisma and hard work made him shine in drama studies," said Ms McCormack.

"English is Jack's second language and he is working hard to master pronunciation and vocal skills to maximise his character's cheeky appeal."

Ms McCormack said the cast of Jasper Jones had been asked to show great maturity and insight as they explored the often raw, emotional subject matter. 

"To support our cast, two professional actors have come in to workshop key scenes.

"Myles Pollard, who starred in the film Drift and the film version of Jasper Jones, worked with our young actors to help them identify the objectives driving each key moment of dialogue.

"He worked to choreograph the more violent moments on stage.

"Vivienne Garret, who recently starred in the Black Swan Production of 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' has worked with our actors on vocal choices and character profiles."

This year's senior theatre production will be held in the brand new Margaret River HEART cultural complex, adding an extra level of excitement for the keen performers and behind the scenes crew. 

"Staging this play at the new HEART Studio Theatre is a very momentous, exciting experience for us all.

"This production will allow our students to present a highly engaging stage production to our broader community in a brand new performance space.

"The acoustics and the intimacy of this theatre make it a very special performance space and MRSHS Drama students feel proud and honoured to be performing in one of the first stage productions this venue will host."

A team of dedicated students, teachers and the design team at Arts Margaret River have worked tirelessly to create a professional-standard production. 

"As Director I would like to thank everyone involved for the dedicated hours spent preparing all aspects of the show," said Ms McCormack. 

"It would be wonderful to watch a capacity crowd enjoy the results of all of this hard work to see this innovative student production."

Ticket Information

Jasper Jones is on at the Margaret River HEART on May 8, 9, and 10 from 7pm. 

All youth must be accompanied by an adult as this is a licensed event.

Kiosk opens at 6.30pm and the play commences at 7pm.

Enter from the rear of the venue, closest to Gloucester Park parking bays opposite the Football Club.

All tickets are $20 each and are available now through Arts Margaret River or by calling 08 9758 7316.