Over the past two decades, Bachelor of Theatre students have provided their talents to produce, direct and star in Choices productions, which deliver safety messages to Year 12 students. L-R: Kiara Davis, Callysta Morris, Emmalese Dunn, Waylon Kennedy, Pagan-Leigh Camilleri, Andrew Engelsmann-Heiser, Michael Lee, Lucy Fitzpatrick. Picture: Contributed
Over the past two decades, Bachelor of Theatre students have provided their talents to produce, direct and star in Choices productions, which deliver safety messages to Year 12 students. L-R: Kiara Davis, Callysta Morris, Emmalese Dunn, Waylon Kennedy, Pagan-Leigh Camilleri, Andrew Engelsmann-Heiser, Michael Lee, Lucy Fitzpatrick. Picture: Contributed

Alcohol, drugs and sexual activity: Learning through theatre

Students from CQUniversity’s Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music have hit the road for the 22nd annual applied theatre project called Choices.

The initiative is designed to educate high school students across Central and North Queensland on positive decision making.

This year’s show will be performed for more than 2000 students in Townsville, Burdekin, Whitsunday, Mackay, Sarina, and Moranbah from February 15 to March 1, with a focus on Year 12 students who will make some important choices in their final year of school.

Head of the College of Arts and CQCM director Judith Brown said the project promoted key safety messages around alcohol, drugs and sexual activity for young people, by young people, using a music theatre format of comic skits, song and dance.

“Each year, Bachelor of Theatre students work to write, direct, and choreograph a 45-minute music and drama presentation – based on well-known movie and TV themes and weave them around relevant key safety messages,” Prof Brown said.

“Over the past 22 years, we have performed Choices to over 100,000 students and have made a positive impact on the lives of teenagers across Queensland.

“The students gain so much experience directing, and choreographing the show, updating the script, working with the partners in the project and taking the show on the road for two weeks after their term has finished.

“It really is a great example of work-integrated learning and community engagement.”

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Prof Brown believed the theatre project’s long-lasting success has been largely due to its focus on effective harm minimisation strategies for Year 12 students before they embark on their Year 12 celebrations including Schoolies.

“This year’s plot follows a teenager named ‘Charlie’ who is getting ready for a whole year of partying: graduation parties, formals, after parties and music festivals,” Prof Brown said.

“But soon, she realises that there are many lessons to be learnt as she is transported into popular television programs, where each program focuses on a different area of concern.

“The production includes over 30 key health, safety and legal messages, which are updated each year in line with current government campaigns.”

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