Taking centre stage

The College musical Strictly Ballroom was a smashing success, playing to packed houses every night. Hamish Stewart (Y12) played lead character Scott. He leads the school in liturgical song in his role as cantor and is a fine example of Joeys’ enduring commitment to the arts. 

How do you find studying drama and music? Music and theatre are a big part of Joeys. We’ve got great drama and music departments with fantastic facilities. I really love story-telling, singing and acting – being able to let go and explore new worlds and new ideas.

What life lessons has drama taught you? My teacher, Mr O’Shea, has taught us to step out and deliver in all that we do – to be in the moment. Drama is a life skill. It gives you confidence in all aspects of communication.

Broadening horizons: The College musical took place at Concourse Theatre in Chatswood and enabled Joeys boys to perform alongside students from other schools.

How have you found the TAFE course you are doing through the school? It’s a Certificate III in Community, Dance, Theatre and Events at Southern Cross Catholic College Burwood. You get an understanding of how to run a show. At the moment, we’re creating a cabaret, so we’ve got to do the logistics behind it, like holding meetings with the production team.

What was it like working with professionals in Strictly Ballroom? It was great, especially after not being able to perform to a live audience for so long because of Covid. It was wonderful to be in this living environment, with professionals. Because you’re working with them it lifts your performance.

What was the highlight? On the Wednesday night my mic wasn’t working and I had the crew offstage telling me to come off while I was doing a scene. I went off in character and got the mic changed. I had to improvise a little and go back on and make it look like me going off was perfectly normal. And it worked. It was a lesson in how to stay professional and adapt to the moment.

Close teamwork: During a production students develop their ability to work collaboratively.

In 2019, you went on a performing arts tour of Lyon, Paris, London and Stratford-upon-Avon with the College. That was a great trip. It really opened up my mind. In a performing arts sense, we got to meet new people and experience new ideas. As far as the HSC goes, it really connected with all the different practitioners we learn about. It was so beneficial to have been to the places where these people worked and see the environment that made them.

What was the best part of the trip? At the Fontainebleau School of Acting in Paris we had a great experience doing physical theatre. It was something I hadn’t explored before but it was really interesting. Putting physicality before words and using your body to interact and tell a story. It added a new dynamic to what I perceived as theatre.

What does your role as cantor at Joeys mean to you? I love being a part of the liturgical music, and I think it’s something that’s a really important part of what Joeys is. To be able to lead that and be able to lead Mass is wonderful.

Why should a Year 7 boy choose drama? It’s a rigorous discipline. It teaches you to find a sense of yourself and how to interact with others. And just like sport, you find a lot of mateship in drama because it’s a collaborative thing. 

The power of theatre: Hamish Stewart (left) says studying drama is great for building confidence and self awareness.