Leadership roles for student participants in Choices

The CQUniversity students play a key role in the success and implementation of the Choices applied theatre project. First year students elect to participate as performers or technical support, thus experiencing the rehearsal period and performance tour first-hand. As they progress to their later years of study, they are encouraged to volunteer in various creative and leadership roles including director, scriptwriter, choreographer, music director, and technical manager. A small team of senior students, who have already been involved in previous years as performers, form a leadership team who then become involved in the writing and updating of the script, auditioning and casting, choreography, as well as the staging of the work and ongoing rehearsal of the actors, singers and dancers. This senior student leadership team meets with the Choices committee every month and provides feedback to the committee regarding the implementation of the performance tour and any technical or theatrical requirements. The Choices committee provides the student team with feedback on the script and the incorporation of the key health, safety and legal messages that must be embedded within the script. The students also meet with the CQUniversity faculty on a more regular basis to ensure the smooth operation and integration of the Choices project within the regular curriculum.

Learning experiences for student participants in Choices

Students in leadership roles in this project are provided the opportunity to demonstrate their skills as directors, producers, choreographers and team leaders for credit within Special Project courses. For many student participants, this has provided them with the confidence and skills to go on to professional theatre work in a range of capacities – performers, administrators and creatives. Others have gone on to post-graduate study in education and now work at secondary and tertiary institutions around Australia and abroad.

"For me, as a choreographer, Choices has provided me with another opportunity to create another piece of dance, but this time with comedy. For the past two years, I have been able to create comedic choreographic pieces based on the lyrics and eye popping patterns, which are able to keep the young audience entertained through show" (Sean Perez, student choreographer for Choices in 2009 and 2010).

The learning experiences these students gain as creative practitioners aligns with CQUniversity's strategy of creating programs and courses of study that are relevant to the real world, integrate work with learning, as well as providing opportunities to develop the discipline specific skills in music, drama, dance and technical theatre. The students themselves are close in age to the target audience, and this aspect of peer learning is an important factor in engaging the target group with the key safety messages of safe partying. TheChoices project allows CQUniversity theatre students to work side-by-side with health professionals, law-enforcement officers and community agencies, putting into practice the graduate attributes of teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving, ethical practice and communication. This sense of common purpose drives the project forward and engages the CQUniversity students in an altruistic way with this important harm minimisation strategy for Year 12 students in our Central and North Queensland communities.