Drama news: The show must go on!

Shadow puppets

The Drama department have been busy with a full programme, keeping the school’s theatrical spirit alive during lockdown.

Lower School

The Lower School have continued to work on their adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. When school moved online in January, Mr Henry and Miss Goodwin began to explore radio drama and shadow puppetry as a new way of devising around the original book. The Year 7 cast worked with puppeteer Russell Dean, the artistic director of Strangeface Theatre Company, to create puppets to work with when we return to school. Meanwhile, the Year 8 cast divided into small groups to create a live radio drama broadcast of key chapters, exploring different voices and layering live and pre-recorded sound effects.

Radio Drama Club also continued, and pupils have been finishing their own comedy children's detective story. We are looking forward to recording the play once we are back in school, and sharing it as soon as possible. Lily (Year 7) said, 'When I saw that radio drama was an option for an after-school club, I almost rushed to sign up. Everyone is hilarious and everyone is always smiling afterwards; it is one of my highlights of the week.

Middle School

The Middle School pupils have been working on a number of different projects during lockdown, adapting work they had already started in Michaelmas or taking on new scholastic challenges.

The Greenland cast continued to meet, with Mr Niklas leading them through a series of sessions exploring creative responses to the themes of climate change in the play. Pupils have produced a range of materials including novelisations of the play, new scenes and short films which explore the character journeys. Miss Fraser continued to rehearse duologues from the play for Year 9 cast with a view to hopefully showing these live in the Summer term.

Dance & Physical Theatre has also continued on Zoom and is now in its third iteration. After developing chair plays in Zoom squares last spring, Clare Dunn and Miss Bogle helped to create some amazing choreography using different dance approaches, feeding into last term's exploration of patterns, secret games and journeys in the studio. This has involved more chairs, lots of music and a whole pile of precarious crockery.

Since January we’ve started developing our very own version of Rosas Danst Rosas. We are now looking forward seeing what stories and ideas come out of it when we take it to the Drama Studio in The Space.

Annabel Cordón Bates has continued to run online improvisation. Pupils have been working through Whose Line is it Anyway? games and adding our own to the mix, usually involving crazy costumes, strange props and several pets from the students' homes./p>

Academically, the Year 10s have been exploring different design aspects of technical theatre for their set texts whilst the Year 11s have been exploring their set texts through modern theatre movements (such as meta theatre, Appia’s ideas on lighting and space, and verbatim theatre) to find inventive practical ways around working collaboratively online.

Upper School

The Upper School (with the help of some Middle School) are planning to create and perform their own adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, to mark 40 years of the Sackville Theatre in October.

To that end the cast of Year 10, Year 11 and Lower Sixth students have been exploring the text, its themes and its influences, moving from practical devising in year group bubbles to mixed groups working on radio play adaptations of extracts from the novel.

Obviously conditions have not been ideal for practical drama, but the students across all year groups have been remarkably creative and intensely engaged in the rehearsals and clubs, digging deeper into their love of all things theatre and bring the right kind of drama into their lives.

Karl Niklas

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