Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 5. May 6, 1958
Publication of "Cappicade" late on the last Thursday afternoon of the first term has traditionally inaugurated the annual Capping festivities, originally designed to fete the graduands of the year. Graduands' supper on the evening of the same day was closely followed by a hectic activity in: the small hours of Friday, culminating in the "procession" at noon on Capping Day. For a few hours all activity lapsed until the Capping Ceremony proper in the Town Mall, followed by Capping Ball, which continued into the very small hours of the Saturday. A few days' rest, and "Extravaganza" played at the Opera House for a few evenings, and then there was only the cleaning up and the memories for a twelve-month.
This year there are some changes. Graduands' supper—an informal and hearty gathering of the graduands and the senior University officials, together with representatives of the City fathers and the Government—remains the same: the Executive are hosts to these persons, and toasts are recorded to traditional institutions. "Cappicade" and procession, however, had for some years been deteriorating in quality: and, as a result of heavy comments made in interested groups, the Association last year adopted an improvement policy for these activities. Some Executive members felt that if there was no appreciable rise in standard, then neither the "Cappicade" nor the procession should be continued.
A triumvirate Editor of "Cappicade" was appointed, and has finally completed the very difficult, and at limes heart-breaking task of producing a magazine which showed at least some acquaintance with University wit. Many of those who have seen portions of the Book this year, consider that it will be the finest ever published by the student body at this University. The magazine will be available to students on the Wednesday afternoon: the Union has received permission to sell "Cappicade" in the City of Wellington streets on Thursday, 8th, and Friday, 9th May, and in Lower Hutt on the Thursday only. Twenty-one thousand copies will be printed, and sellers will not need to worry about rushing back to a float as in previous years.
Generous Sales Commissions will be Available to Sellers: Clubs and Groups also Qualify for Generous Financial Re-wards. Full Details of the Scheme are on the Executive Notice Board in the Main Foyer, and Outside the Cafeteria.
Procession will also be better this year, and groups are being encouraged to enter. Only representative groups: Faculty teams, clubs, etc., may enter a float: and the design and theme must be approved by the procession controllers, John Hercus and Amour Mitchell. Other details are also on the notice boards.
Collection for Charity
Apart from improved quality of procesh, this year there will be a collection for charity during the procession. All proceshers and charity collectors are asked to be costurned, or at least dressed up. The City Council has approved our request to collect for an organisation of our choice, and we have nominated Birthright, a civilian counterpart of Heritage. This will be the] first time that students of this University have collected for charily, and we hope that the public will respond generously to this very worth-while cause.
Permission has been granted for procession, but the conditions must be observed if we are to have this in future years. The route will be slightly different from the last two or three years, as the volume of passenger transport vehicles which now traverses Wakefield Street and Lower Cuba Street have prevented Council from granting permission to use these.
The following are the conditions to which the Students' Union and the City Council have agreed:
The procession is to commence at 12 noon sharp on Friday, 9th May, and the route is to be as follows: Assemble in Cambridge Terrace, in the vicinity of Vivian Street.
Proceed via Courtenay Place, Taranaki Street, Jervois Quay, Hunter Street, Lambton Quay, Bowen Street to the Terrace.
•2. The procession must be kept as close as practicable to the left of the roadway and must not impede the traffic in any way. •3. All instructions issued by Police or Traffic Officials must be complied with immediately. •4. The Students' Union is to accept responsibility for any damage to Corporation property caused by Students during the whole of Capping Day, whether they are participants in the procession or not, and has undertaken to make good any such damage or to furnish the names of those responsible. •5. The Students' Union is to take thorough steps to acquaint all our members with the above mentioned conditions under which a permit is issued.
This year's Extravaganza season is for a full six nights in Wellington, beginning with a Gala Opening which hopes to emulate the style of overseas premieres. This will be followed by a five-night season in Wellington, and a two-night stand in Lower Hutt on Thursday and Friday, 22-23 May. At Queen's Birthday weekend, the cast will travel to Napier to perform on Friday and Saturday, 30 and 31 May, and Monday, 2nd June.
Proceeds from the Gala Opening in Wellington, on Saturday, 10th May, will be devoted to the Student Union Building Fund. In Napier, the net proceeds will be handed to Birthright. Last year, Extrav. went on tour to Hastings at the same time.
All students should do their best to get to one or more of the performances: a regrettably small number have attended in previous years, and the standard and team-spirit of this year's show and cast are very good. Tickets for the Wellington season are priced: Circle, 10/-; stalls, 6/-; gallery, 4/-.
The following timetable indicates Capping activities:—
Wednesday, 7th May — late afternoon, "Cappicadcs" available.
Thursday, 8th May—"Cappicadcs" on sale in Wellington and Lower Hutt.
—Graduands' supper, 8 p.m., Little Theatre.
Friday, 9th May—"Cappicadc" still selling in Wellington if stocks last.
—Procession, 12 noon.
—Capping ceremony, 8 p.m., Town Hall.
—Capping Ball, Town Hall, 10 p.m.-3 a.m.
Saturday, 10th May—Gala Opening, Extrav 1958, at Opera House, 8.15 p.m.
Monday, 12th-Saturday, 17th May —Extrav at Opera House.
Thursday, 22nd - Friday, 23rd May —Extrav. at Lower Hutt Little Theatre.
Friday, 30th - Saturday, 31st May— Extrav at Napier.
Monday, 2nd June — Extriiv at Napier.
Those are the main points on Capping. To be successful, these activities require Your support: you will find you can enjoy yourself thoroughly, without abusing the privilege of letting off steam in good-humoured, clever stunts.
Further information will be found on the notice boards, or may be obtained from members of the Executive, or Capping organisers.
—B. C. Shaw.
Shakespeare in the Round
The Drama Club's production of All's Well That Ends Well was a bold venture in so many ways that it could easily have flopped. The play is unfamiliar and commonly regarded as one of Shakespeare's worst, muddled in its action and nasty in its material. The staging was unusual, with three platforms in the body of the theatre and the audience around them, scarcely any scenery and no curtain to veil the comings and goings of the actors. The costumes, too, were unconventional, not, the programme told us, just to be novel but to help capture the mood of the play. The boldness paid off; the play came across with a liveliness few had expected and was enthusiastically received by many who had written it off as dull and unpleasant.
This success was achieved to some extent in spite of the professed aims behind the experimental staging and costuming. We were told that Helena was to be seen as a resolute go-getter whose determination we must admire however little we sympathise with her methods. It was this conception of her as a "Shavian super woman" which prompted the use of Edwardian costumes; she was to be as modern and as unsubmissive as any of the modern dramatist's heroines. In the actual performance the Helena of Donella Palmer was very little of this. At no time did she lose our sympathy or provoke our displeasure and her rich costumes, which were as much traditional as modern, served to emphasise the departure from the interpretation of the part we were led to expect.
Bertram, the Countess and Lafew fitted in well enough with Miss Palmer's Helena but Parolles was so exactly typed by his costumes that he seemed more like an Evelyn Waugh militarist than the boisterous braggart whose deflation by Helena in the first act is but the prelude to his complete discomforting at the end of the play. We were hardly conscious of him as the uninhibited mis-leader of youth whose loquacity undoes him. The clown, Lavache, was altogether too off-hand for the important lines he has in the many-voiced consideration of love and nobility and his relationship to the central characters not very clearly established.
If these parts seem to have suffered from the conception of the play as belonging to our world there was a great deal gained by the staging of the play in something like the Elizabethan manner. Scene followed scene with just the right pace and the complicated plot was much less tedious than reading of the play had suggested. Nola Millar's talent for getting people moving and speaking with a minimum of fuss and by-play was obvious throughout and the experience of a Shakespeare play as primarily something to be spoken was a most satisfying one. The three platforms restricted the actors at times, especially in the last scene and, in the taunting of Parolles, room should have been found for Bertram to be more than a bystander on the floor. The final entry of Helena was disappointing; this is the crowning moment of the play and she had far too little room and time to make it that. Would one central platform have been better?
Allowing for disagreements about the interpretation of the play and some of its characters, the acting was very good. David Vere-Jones had a command of movement and gesture as impressive as his fine speaking of verse, and whenever he was on stage others seemed to rise towards his level. Irene Demchenko similarly spoke and moved very well and Bernard Grice, after a rather uncertain start, was a fitting third to these others in the ranks of the older generation from whose presence this comedy of young people growing up takes so much of its meaning. John Gamby, as Parolles, I have mentioned already as failing to give the part the full-blooded energy it needs, but his performance early in the play as a rather cynical spiv was great fun in itself and at the end his dejection had just the right note of good humour about it to make Lafew's favour towards him completely convincing.
The minor characters were not always given full weight and some of the peaking of verse and (more surprisingly) of prose was too elocutionary or hurried. Geoff Henry as Lavache was irritatingly full of gestures which distracted the attention from what he was saying. The naturalness of the movements about the acting area which the production called for helped the inexperienced actors and only in the scene where Parolles is unmasked were the minor parts seriously slack.
John Reynolds as Bertram got all the rashness and impetuosity that are called for and in the last scene made the most of his all too few lines. He kept the audience sufficiently sympathetic to him as a young, unseasoned courtier to make Helena's regaining of him more satisfactory an ending to the play than many consider it. Donella Palmer, as Helena, had a splendid ease of movement and expression and her interpretation of the part gave support to Coleridge's much-maligned description of her as "Shakespeare's loveliest creation". Without playing down the ambition in her love or her readiness to use the means which come to her hand this Helena was enough to debunk her severest critics.
As a whole the production had a polish and precision in its lighting and sound effects, much superior to those in earlier major productions and, if more attention to the speech and gestures of some actors would have brought an improvement, the larger considerations of Miss Millar's production were more than adequate. The success of the staging emphasised the success of the whole venture in taking a neglected play which too many read without witnessing and showing it to be, if not the best Shakespeare, at least very good theatre and in flashes as excellent as many more familiar plays. It was fitting then that the outstanding performance of the production was that of Mr. Vere-Jones as Lafew and the reality he gave to a part supposedly tedious and fatuous was an indication of how worthwhile it is to see Shakespeare and not just read him.