Thirty-years ago this week, the Sackville Theatre was opened by Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Harold Hobson, before the first performance (a co-production with the National Theatre) of Lark Rise to Candleford. Since then the Theatre has hosted a wide range of student and professional work. What better way than to mark this anniversary than with a new kind of event and ultimate dramatic test: a monologue competition - Monojam.
Twenty four students, spanning the entire age range of the school, took part in what was a thoroughly engaging and impressive evening of drama. Each performer selected and rehearsed (and in some cases, wrote) their own speech and then performed them, back to back on the Sackville stage, with just one attempt to make an impact.
To intensify the competitive element, three external judges chose winners in each age category. The judges were all from the professional theatre world and connected to Sevenoaks: Philip Bird is an Old Sennockian – he left the school in 1970 and is an established actor in theatre, film, television and radio, as well as a writer of films, stage plays and musicals; Rachel Dawson is also an OS (1997-2004) and is a professional Actor and Musician; the third judge was Annabel Bates, the School’s part-time Trinity Guildhall teacher and professional actress.
Director of Drama, Gavin Henry said: ‘The competition not only attracted some of the best actors in the school, but appealed particularly to those who were excited by the challenge, and eager to put their bravery and dramatic experience to the test. Despite their young age, they all impressed with their confidence and composure, making a decision very difficult for the judges.’
The winner in the Junior category was Isabel McGrady (Year 8) who performed from Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham. She was closely followed by Elise Van Den Hoek (Year 7), the youngest competitor, performing an extract from Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful. The Intermediate category was won by Lizzie Shaw (Year 9), whose performance from Dreams of Anne Frank had the judges choked, followed by a strong comic performance of Rowan Atkinson’s Hell by Max Lewthwaite. (Year 10). The senior category saw some of the school’s most experienced performers go head to head and was eventually won by Ed Broadhead (Year 13) for his powerful and complex performance from Simon Stephen’s Punk Rock. He just pipped Hannah Sands (Year 11), who the judges placed second for her in-depth characterisation and moving portrayal from Iron by Rona Munroe.
All the performers contributed to a wonderful, dynamic celebration of drama: fitting way in which to mark the Sackville’s thirtieth anniversary.