Creativity abounds at St Briavels | Redmaids' High School
Here at Redmaids' High we pride ourselves on top quality theatrical performance, regularly putting on sell out shows in our purpose built, state of the art Redland Hall auditorium. So it was a blow to be unable to put on any performances in the past year and a half. Our Sixth Formers were then delighted to be able to put on a production in the Sixth Form Centre in the Summer term of 2021.
The Sixth Form students adapted and added to Angela Carter's existing script, rehearsing in their own time, working together with Sixth Form musicians to create a beautiful and immersive production any professional troupe would be proud of.
In recognition of their talent, they have been invited to put on the production for the wider public at the pop up Theatre on the Downs, on Sunday 25 September.
Once you've bought your tickets, dive deeper into the process of choosing, rehearsing and performing their show in a piece by Ella W, who helped write the brand new prologue, below.
"Over a year of living – and learning - with some form of Covid restrictions, unfortunately for us, meant not producing a play at the end of the winter term. To some people that maybe doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but for us is was a key element to our descent into stir-craziness!..."
And we were desperate to finally put on our stage makeup again (oh yes, we were). It was no surprise then, that when at last the restrictions allowed us to get back on stage we jumped at the opportunity. The Performing Arts Centre at school became a blizzard of ideas: Shakespe
… Sophocles… writing a play ourselves… After some debate, we decided we wanted to focus on a darker theme to contrast with the decidedly floral production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that Year 10 were putting on. When we read it, we realised that The Company of Wolves script by Angela Carter suited u
s perfectly. The themes of being lost in the forest with characters shrouded in mystery, complimented A Midsummer Night’s Dream so the two texts made a good pairing. However, The Company of Wolves inspires tension in the audience; instead of fairies, it has predatory wolves who morph into predatory men pursuing and devouring the village girls, often meeting a cruel fate themselves at the hands of huntsmen and vengeful husbands. We loved the challenges the text presented: transformations into wolves, creating a forest and grandmother’s cottage, convincing our audience they were in the heart of winter at the height of summer.
Reading the story made last year’s Creative Writing group keen to look into other folk tales that are centred around wolves. And we found loads of them. Like, absolutely loads! So we decided to write a prologue, bringing together our favourites of the different wolf stories from around the world. And we added our prologue to Carter’s text, making the script completely and uniquely our own.
In rehearsals, we started by playing Grandmother’s Footsteps as wolves, then moved on to blocking our script step by step, then we took charge of certain key moments that presented challenges – like the onstage transformation of the wolf in the Bride’s tale, and the way Red Riding Hood eventually deals with the wolf who has eaten her Grandma. Finally we were running through our play in full – with a beautiful folk music score, created by the musicians in our year group. When our performance night finally arrived, it was strange but thrilling to finally be performing again for the first time in eighteen months. Despite having a much-reduced audience, the energy in the room was exhilarating. We could feel the audience’s engagement as they felt the sorrow, guilt, fear, and joy along with our characters. After a year of sitting behind screens, it was definitely worth the wait. We were so happy to be back onstage but one evening did not feel like enough and we were all so sad once it was over – after so much hard work.
So we are overjoyed to have the opportunity to perform the piece again at The Theatre on the Downs. This has turned from a little project which we weren’t even sure we would ever be able to present to an audience, to a big deal where are being seen alongside professional companies, and offering our work up to a real life paying audience. If performing in Redland Hall to our parents was thrilling – this is something else! So we have a play, with have music, we have make-up, we have rehearsals – and now we have stage nerves too! Who knew we would miss them.