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22 years and counting- CQUni theatre students continue to help high schoolers make good choices

Published:17 February 2021

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.

Students from CQUniversity’s Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music (CQCM) have hit the road for the 22nd annual applied theatre project called Choices, an initiative designed to educate high school students across Central and North Queensland on positive decision making.

This year’s show will be performed to over 2000 students in the Townsville, Burdekin, Whitsunday, Mackay, Sarina, and Moranbah regions from 15 February to 1 March 2021, with a focus on Year 12 students who will be making some important choices in their final year of school.

Head of the College of Arts and Director of CQCM Professor Judith Brown AM explained that the project promotes 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 45-minute music and drama presentation - based on well-known movie and TV themes and weave them around relevant key safety messages.

“Over the past 22 years, we have performed Choices to over 100,000 students and has 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.”

First launched in 1999, the initiative has continued thanks to a partnership between he Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music and Queensland Police Service Mackay Crime Prevention Unit, several Queensland State Government agencies: Sexual Health and Sexual Assault Service, Queensland Health; Department of Communities; and with input from the Whitsunday Schoolies Advisory Committee (Whitsunday Regional Council).

Professor 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.

“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,” Prof Brown said.

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