Mummers Milestone

‘Mummers’ began in June 1948, a group formed by the then Warden, Revd Dr Felix Arnott, which included women from the Women’s College for the first time in student productions of the College. Prior to that all Paul’s revues and dramatic productions had casts from only the men of St Paul’s (see Alan Atkinson, Hearts and Minds 2017, pp.291 ff).

Some 76 years later Mummers produced the first performance in the newly opened theatre in the Waddy Performance Centre on 17, 18 and 19 May. This was not the first performance of Pauline-only cast and crew. Since 2023 the Mummers cast has been, the men and women of the undergraduate College community. Mummers have a five-year-old rival which is the Imprearios of Graduate House who have performed an annual play in the Refectory since 2019.

In May we found ourselves in the Waddy Theatre for the very first ticketed production. ‘Black Comedy’ by Peter Shaffer (1926-2016) follows the chaos that ensues when a power outage strikes during a dinner party, plunging the characters into hilarious misunderstandings and farcical situations. This play uses the power of clever British humour of the period and was premiered at the National Theatre in Chichester in July 1965, so these days it might be considered a period piece!

The three Mummers’ performances were very well patronised and in terms of recent productions for Mummers these shows were a triumph. The new theatre space was used to great advantage and the crew had at their fingertips all the advantages of the programmable state-of-the-art lighting and audio systems.

Director and President of Mummers Max Philips stated in the Director’s Notes: “Programming the opening play for this venue proved challenging, as one always wants a memorable debut number, or to start as they mean to go on. After the serious yet poignant ‘Twelve Angry Jurors’ last semester, I felt Mummers needed to return to its roots for this grand opening; a one-act comedy being a slight twist on a contemporary classic.”

The cast and crew certainly achieved that, greatly helped along by the crisp comic writing of Shaffer, with their attention to detail and a lot of rehearsing which resulted in tight comedic dialogue and their use of English and German accents gave a real sense of the play’s origins.

The play is written to be staged under a reversed lighting scheme: the play opens on a darkened stage – indeed in the Waddy the audience sat in complete darkness which added a sense of foreboding – “is there a problem with the lighting!” A few minutes into the action there is a ‘short circuit’, and the stage is illuminated to reveal the characters in a ‘blackout’. On the few occasions when matches, lighters, or torches are lit, the lights grow dimmer.

Max goes on to state: “In the context of our society and Coll. S. Paul, it recognises the eras of Mummers, now entering its 76th year, and acknowledges the scores of alumni and Old Paulines, who have trodden the boards with this society and have contributed immensely to the fabric of its rich historical tapestry.”

Black Comedy, 17-19 May, the Waddy Performance Centre, St Paul’s College

Director: Max Philips

Cast

BRINDSLEY MILLER – a young sculptor, mid-twenties, intelligent and attractive, but nervous and uncertain of himself: Felix Power

CAROL MELKETT – Brindsley’s fiancée. A young debutante; very pretty, very spoiled, very silly. Her sound that is an unmistakable, terrifying debutante quack: Charlotte Hocking

MISS FURNIVAL – a middle-aged lady. Prissy and refined. Clad in the blouse and sack shirt of her gentility, her hair in a bun, she reveals only the repressed gestures of the middle-class spinster — until alcohol undoes her: Annika Johnson

COLONEL MELKETT – Carol’s commanding father. Brisk, barky, yet given to sudden vocal calms which suggest a deep alarming instability. It is not only the constant darkness which gives him his look of wide-eyed submission: Jack Rowe

HAROLD GORRINGE – the bachelor owner of an antique-china shop, and Brindsley’s neighbour, Harold comes from the North of England. His friendship is highly conditional and possessive: sooner or later, payment for it will be asked. A specialist in emotional blackmail, he can become hysterical when slighted, or (as inevitably happens) rejected. He is older than Brindsley by several years: Sam McCredie

SCHUPPANZIGH – a German refugee, chubby, cultivated, and effervescent. He is an entirely happy man, delighted to be in England, even if it means being employed full time by the London Electricity Board: Ryan Bond

CLEA – Brindsley’s ex-mistress. Mid-twenties; dazzling, emotional, bright, and mischievous. The challenge to her is to create a dramatic situation out of the darkness is ultimately irresistible: Freya Carmody

GEORG SAMBERGER – an elderly millionaire art collector, easily identifiable as such. Like Schuppanzigh, he is German: Will Nicholas

Stage Manager: Ben Varela

Associate Producer: Helen Jordan

Set Designers: Ria Alva, Heidi Best, Greta Bourne, Anoushka Cayzer

Costume Designers, Hair and Make-Up: Georgia Blattman, Olivia McMillan, Ines Trehane, Sophie Wright

Lighting and Sound: Ben Johnston, Alex Mudri, Milly O’Connell,

Props and Backstage: Aidan Cheung, Hamish Ierino, Grace Morrow, Tahlia Sorgiovanni, Sophie Wright

Usher: Jack Lockhart

Marketing and Promo: Heidi Best

Photographers: William Chang, Matilda Johnson, Luka Vujanovic

Cultural Diversity is a Real Feast in Graduate House

At the Graduate House Mid-Winter Feast on 14 June our post graduate community celebrated the end of Semester 1 and the 5th year of Graduate House. Towards the end of the dinner something quite different happened in the 165-year-old Blacket Hall. One of our leavers, Lind Zhang (MEd(Psych)) performed a traditional fan dance in Chinese Qipao dress to the great delight of the students, alumni, staff and guests attending.

Linda explains the tradition.

The Chinese dance drama ‘Confucius’ is a large-scale work that expresses the philosophical and emotional journey of Confucius’s life through modern dance. The drama uses Confucius’s life as a narrative thread, exploring his philosophical thoughts, political ideals, and personal emotional world through dance and music. A distinctive feature of this drama is its integration of traditional and modern dance elements, using modern dance techniques to interpret traditional cultural themes, giving the work both depth and a contemporary feel.


Regarding the ‘Letter Dance’, this is a symbolic dance within the drama. In this scene, the dancers depict the exchange of letters between Confucius and his students and friends. These letters convey not only knowledge and wisdom but also emotions and longing. Through dance, the performers use body language to express the deep affection in the letters, as well as Confucius’s passion for educating his disciples and his pursuit of ideals.


In the dance, performers often use graceful and powerful movements, combined with visual effects and music on stage, to transform this non-verbal communication into an emotional experience that the audience can perceive. The floating letters symbolize the transmission of thoughts and the flow of culture. The entire dance not only portrays Confucius as an educator but also reflects his inner world and endless pursuit of knowledge.


This creative form of dance expression is an attempt by Chinese modern dance drama to explore traditional cultural themes. It reinterprets the life and thoughts of Confucius through the language of modern dance, making it more accessible to the aesthetic and feelings of modern audiences.

Originally performed by male dancers, this piece of the dance drama was adapted by Linda, who replaced the letters with fans, incorporating elements of traditional Chinese fan dance. The Chinese fan dance, has a rich history that dates back over 2,000 years. Originating during the Han Dynasty from 206 BC, it was initially performed in imperial courts and later became popular among common people. In China, fans are not only practical tools for cooling but also cultural artifacts that represent Chinese aesthetics and artistic expression. This innovative performance showcased the grace and strength of Chinese female dancers. 


What Linda wanted to express through her dance was to bring more cultural diversity to St. Paul’s. She also gave a Chinese folding fan to everyone attending to show her thanks and bid farewell after her year in Graduate House. Linda is a graduate of Macquarie University in Accounting and has completed a MEd in Educational Psychology at Sydney University.

Another Pauline Elected USU President

Congratulations to Bryson Constable (Economics/Law III) who was recently elected President of the University of Sydney Union (USU) for 2024/5. Bryson first connected with the USU through representing St Paul’s in Intercollegiate Palladian competitions and was elected to the USU Board in 2023 with the most votes. Two other recent Paulines serving USU include Cole Scott-Curwood (2019-20) who was president of USU in 2022/23 and Nick Dower (2021-23) who served as Honorary Treasurer in 2023/24.  

USU President is a significant role within the University and through it Bryson hopes to foster even greater engagement between the colleges and the USU, as well as serve all students on campus through leadership of the voluntary governing body of USU.

The union began in 1874 and is now Australia’s largest independent student-led not-for-profit organisation with over 46,000 members and over 100 staff. With a $30 million turnover, the USU provides a wide range of services, outlets, events, programmes, facilities, and opportunities to help students get the most out of their time at uni.

The St Paul’s College community is immensely proud of Bryson’s contribution to student welfare and amenities that support daily life on campus.  Taking on this important governance and strategic role is both a great learning opportunity for him and critical for the greater good of the University’s student body and the resident community of colleges and halls enjoying on-campus facilities, recreation and events.

Bryson’s grandfather, Prof Ian Constable AO, was in College 1960-64. He is a leading international ophthalmologist based in Perth. He was the founder of the Lions Eye Institute there. Bryson is a debater in the intercol competition team representing St Paul’s, represented the College in intercol Oration last year, is a regular member of the Victoriana! cast, he was winner of the Sir Ian McFarlane Prize for exceptional results in economics/commerce and for service to College in 2022, and was a scholar on the Deans’ List of Excellence (Economics) in 2023.  

Congratulations Bryson on your election and best wishes for your busy year ahead.

INTERCOL COMPETITION POINT SCORES (CURRENT)

Rawson Cup: St Andrew’s 15 | St Paul’s 9 | St John’s 7 | Wesley 4

Rosebowl: St Andrew’s 31 | Wesley 20 | Women’s 15 | St John’s 14 | St Paul’s 13 | Sancta 7

Palladian: St Andrew’s 9 | St Paul’s 6 | St John’s 6 | Women’s 5 | Sancta 3 | Wesley 1  

For the Semester 2 calendar CLICK HERE