The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Transforming the traditional and classic poem by Coleridge into an atmospheric and unique sound experience was a truly difficult task, but with the small cast of Year 8 pupils and guidance from Mr Henry, they were able to accomplish this with great dramatic technique and slick execution.

The concept of performing this poem in the style of a radio drama was an interesting and fresh style to bring to The Space. Mark Dean helped the cast to create the sound-scape, introducing them to new instruments and inventive ways of using them to produce different types of sound. The ambience created by the wide variety of instruments that were all being played by actors live on stage reflected the emotions expressed in the poem and heightened audience experience.

Learning from an industry professional, Russell Dean (Strange Face Theatre Company), many performers practised the skill of puppeteering and displayed the craft to an extremely high standard. The two skeleton puppets were brought to life, sending chills down the spines of the audience as the ghostly figures interacted with each other.

When the students weren’t narrating through the Fifties-style microphones or playing their instruments, they actually embodied the sailors on their troublesome voyage. Through physical theatre techniques such as lifts and balances, the performers interpreted the verse in a contemporary way, creating striking tableaus to accompany the narration and live music. This had tremendous effect in the Ordovsky-Tanaevsky Drama Studio, as the smaller space proved to reflect the sounds and light forming an almost bubble-like haven, fully immersing every person in the room.

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To highlight particularly impressive performances, Edie Sackville-West and Arthur Adcock had strong and clear narrating voices, while Sofia Melamed and Rose Spurling brought brilliant physicality to the stage pictures. A special mention goes to Sophie Rayment, who learned to play the accordion just for the show.

The most memorable image of the play was the creation of the albatross. Using presentational theatrical techniques and a long strip of white fabric, a group of performers skilfully constructed the shape and impression of the bird, which is of course a central motif in the original poem.

This production incorporated puppetry, physical theatre and live musical performances in the guise of a 1950s radio show.

This was a remarkably sophisticated and impressive production. All those involved should be extremely proud of themselves and the hard work that they put into this piece.  

Daisy Hargreaves, Year 10

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