• Drama
  • 7 December 2023

Michaelmas 2023 – Drama Round-Up

In light of an unconventional schedule adjustment this year, we made a significant shift in our allocation of resources, redirecting our focus…

In light of an unconventional schedule adjustment this year, we made a significant shift in our allocation of resources, redirecting our focus from the customary whole-school Michaelmas Play towards the Lent Musical and the grand 60th Anniversary Foundation Fundraiser production of ‘West Side Story.’ This alteration brought about a noteworthy transformation in the House Plays format, departing from the usual alternating years for paired houses. Instead, we embarked on an ambitious endeavour, presenting an all-encompassing festival of performance, where all eight Houses came together, collaborated with their respective pairs, and collectively crafted four remarkable House Plays, each of which was performed twice.

This particular project closely aligned with my long standing vision for House Plays, placing a strong emphasis on student-centric and student-driven initiatives. It provided an invaluable platform for authentic student leadership, with sixth-form students assuming pivotal roles as Directors and overseeing every facet of the production process. This level of involvement extended to the selection of plays, the rigorous audition and casting procedures, as well as the meticulous design of sets, costumes, soundscapes, and lighting arrangements. Students also managed the intricate technical aspects during the performances, efficiently running backstage and front of house operations. Furthermore, they took charge of creating programme booklets, posters, and even the forthcoming reviews that you are about to peruse.

This project served as a remarkable opportunity for students to fully immerse themselves in the creative process, fostering independent learning and honing their ’21st Century skills,’ which encompass collaboration, effective communication, creativity, teamwork, organisation, and the cultivation of a profound sense of independent responsibility. Collaborating across all year groups, both boys and girls, enriched the experience by enabling everyone to learn from both the triumphs and the challenges encountered along the way.

NORTH/WEST

Directors: Logan B. and Phoebe M.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – By William Shakespeare

The North-West house play was a student led production of Midsummer Nights Dream, abridged to fit in the recommended time limit. Midsummer Nights Dream follows the antics of various factions in ancient Greece. The Athenians, whose love is being toyed and manipulated with by a mischievous sprite named Puck, who in turn works for Oberon, the King of Fairies, who is trying to spite his spouse, Titania. Meanwhile in another corner of the woods, a troupe of actors are rehearsing their play, for Theseus. In a mix up, Puck curses one of the actors to have a donkeys head, and makes Titania fall in love with him. As chaos ensues, the groups finally meet at Theseus castle, the play is performed, Titania and Oberon converse and apologise, and all is put right.

The actors of the play were carefully chosen for their respective roles, and put in their best effort when delivering them. All of the cast worked extremely hard to fit in with the constrained schedule and rehearse their scenes in their own free time, and it showed. The Mechanicals comradery among one another, the Athenians desperate chase for each others love and the Fairies mischievous interactions all told the audience that even when one is not speaking, one is always acting, and each of the groups did this excellently.

However, another notable performance was from the dedicated tech crew, who also turned up in their own time to create a brilliant lightning and sound array on a Sunday afternoon in a gruelling tech rehearsal. The work behind the scenes was extremely commendable and the show would not have been as noteworthy if it wasn’t for the efforts made backstage.

Combine all this with the dedication from the two Upper Sixth directors and you get an amazing adaptation of Midsummer Nights Dream. Good job to everyone involved.

Review by Logan B.

Cubitt/South

Directors: Madeleine R., Gina E. and JJ R.

The Boy Preference – By Elinor Cook

Personally, I would call the South/Cubitt house play a raging success. Although a couple of lines (entire scenes) were missed out and a sprained ankle was obtained, it was an enormous amount of fun to not only direct, but also to be cast in three days before the show. Our play was The Boy Preference by Elinor Cook which tells the story of a dystopia where boys must marry or else they get sent away. In the play, the characters face a deficit of girls until a mysterious group of girls turn up and start causing trouble.

One thing I loved about this play was that there was no main part and many of the characters had equal stage time, Sophia F., Tom L., Finn R., Ted M. and Imo R. played their roles incredibly well and notable mention must go to Freddie F. and Fletcher G. for the infamous psychologist scene. One of the biggest thanks from us must go to the tech crew, Archie L. and Mary S., who did an amazing job at bringing the play together. It has already come to my attention that people regretted not auditioning for the play but I would highly recommend you do so next year as Mads and I are really not that scary. Thank you to everyone who performed or helped behind stage as well as our audience and I cannot wait to do it all again next year.

Review by Gina E.

Rhodes/Loveday

Directors: Lola N.P. and Lucy S.

The 39 Steps – By John Buchan

The house play adaptation of “The 39 Steps,” performed in the Speech Hall by members of Loveday and Rhodes, proved to be a huge success that seamlessly blended suspense, humour, and ingenuity.

Directed by Lucy S. and Lola N.P., this production follows the story of Richard Hannay (Jago S.), who becomes entangled in a web of espionage and murder alongside the sceptical Pamela, brilliantly performed by Orla R.D. After being accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Hannay goes on the run to uncover a sinister plot known as the “39 Steps.” While on his adventure he meets many funny and intriguing characters along the way, who had the audience in stitches. The narrative was marked by suspense, mistaken identities, and a race against time.

For me one of the standout features of the production was the encounter with the Scottish man played by Joe T.,  which showcased successful comedic timing and the director’s ability to balance suspense and humour. All the actors seamlessly executed their roles and demonstrated a high level of skill and coordination.

All the cast delivered stellar performances that kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Jago S. captured the essence of Richard Hannay with charisma and versatility, skillfully navigating the complexities of the character. While the comedy element was brilliant it was certainly not the basis. The chemistry between Richard and Pamela was palpable, adding an emotional depth and great humour to the relationship portrayed on stage.

Overall, the Loveday-Rhodes house play 2023 was an absolute triumph and we were so proud of all the pupils involved and who gave up their time to produce a truly memorable piece of theatre.

Review by Lexi H.

Martlet/East

Directors: Emilia H. and Vivi S.V.

Old Times – by Molly Taylor

On Tuesday 7th November, East/Martlet were proud to perform Old Times by Molly Taylor. Directed by Emilia H. and assisted by Vivi S.V. and Benjy B., this modern play told the story of a group of 17 and 18 year olds who meet up again for the first time in years to discuss the haunting events of their past. Through a series of imaginative flashbacks, we gradually learnt what had happened to cause the group of friends to drift apart and the troubling reason for them coming together once again.

As each character had a younger and older self, both an older and younger actor were required to play the same person in different scenes in the play. It was a rewarding challenge for everyone to practise having the same mannerisms, voice, posture and gait as each other and everyone managed to pull this off brilliantly in both performances, including real life brothers Theo and Zubin C.!

Alongside the actors on stage, there were many pupils from both East and Martlet involved in helping backstage and front of house and with the technical aspects of the production. It was a real team effort and the whole cast and crew can be very proud of their efforts!

Review by Emilia H.