Dear members of the Marcellin family 

One of the aspects of our life that so many of us are missing right now is live theatre. It’s funny how a trip to the theatre can really stimulate your senses and focus your mind on very important issues. This is what good theatre should do of course and it is why a vibrant and flourishing Arts culture is so vital to any healthy society. It should confront and expose as well as entertain.  

I was reminded of this recently when I came across a ticket butt from a couple of years ago when I attended the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) production of George Orwell’s 1984. My ticket was a birthday present courtesy of my daughter, herself a talented and diverse contributor to the Arts through her own career. We had a wonderful experience and came away with plenty of discussion points. Many of you will be familiar with Orwell’s book, first published in 1949. It is a chilling look into the future – a bleak future of surveillance, thought police and stolen identity. It is fascinating to look back in history now that we’re more than 70 years on from the original work. Orwell was projecting forward some 35 years to 1984 when he wrote the book, and we can now examine the themes again another 35 years on from there and this play provided much that we can reflect on in our contemporary context. As it states in the STC promo of the play, “1984 presented a vision of the future that looks a lot like our present. Orwell’s fiction has become our reality.” 

This is not the forum to analyse in detail the relevance of the themes explored in the play, but I immediately think of social media and the internet more broadly when I think of “Big Brother.” Being a slave to screens and having many aspects of our lives monitored is a little disconcerting – so too is “fake news”, identity theft and the over reliance on digital communication at the expense of fostering genuine relationships face to face in real time. This is particularly so in our current context. While in many ways we are so blessed to have the digital technology available that allows us to adapt our teaching and learning to a successful online model, the extended screen time does present challenges.  

Our role here at Marcellin is to educate our young men to be as discerning as possible in the way they use technology. It is a very powerful tool in delivering the academic program, particularly at the moment, and it has many other advantages in terms of access to information and ease of communication but there are risks attached. It is our responsibility to work with you the parents and carers to promote an informed and appropriate use of technology. 

Another advantage of the theatre, and indeed all forms of creative and performing arts, is the opportunity for learning and personal growth it creates for those involved. This is why it is such an important component of our curriculum and our co-curricular programs here at the College. While opportunities have been limited in some areas this year, we look forward to providing many avenues for creative expression for our young men as things improve into the future. 

Blessings for the week ahead 

John Hickey