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Students bring Roald Dahl’s tales to life in this year's House Drama Competition

house drama collage-1

By Sarah McCormack

Head of Drama

Huge congratulations to everyone who was involved in the House Drama competition earlier this term. A wonderful afternoon of fun for performers and audience! Thanks of course are due to the ever-resourceful Mrs Armsby who pulled the whole thing together with her usual poise and energy – and to the House Captains who all found their inner Drama Queens, and encouraged their teams to do the same.

Jenna (Year 8) got the afternoon off to a most impressive start. Redland Hall is a big, intimidating space and even the most seasoned performers can struggle to make their presence felt – but Jenna addressed us all with confidence and was a suitably unsettling witch, really setting the tone for a celebration of the work of one of the most consistently unsettling of children’s writers.

The first performances were not in competition but every one of them was polished and held our attention. A very special mention, though, should go to Bea, Izzy and Mia -all in Year 10-for their brilliant “Where Are They Now” sketch, which was not just wonderfully performed but also extremely well written – hugely funny, very clever, and slightly worrying! A worthy tribute to Roald Dahl.

But now… the competition…

These were four impressive pieces, all brilliant and exciting in their own way and you certainly did not make the judges jobs easy. There were so many things here to admire…Amaarha and Veyana, both in Year 10, switching from sinister witches in their original piece to the engaging and cunning Mr and Mrs Fox; Head Girl Phoebe embodying the absolute spirit of Drama in giving her performance as a tree in James and the Giant Peach.

You can’t really call yourself an actor until you have played a tree! And she was ably supported by Disha (Year 12) giving it her all as a rather disconcertingly purple peach! Emma (Year 12) proving to us in The Witches, as she did in My Fair Lady, that there’s no such thing as a small part; funny and fully in role, making an impression even when she’s only on the stage for two minutes. Charlotte (Year 10) was the first person to speak in the House plays and this is a huge responsibility – but Charlotte was up to it and spoke out with confidence to the back of the hall, making it so much easier for everyone else to follow her.

So many people had to step into big roles at the last moment – but you couldn’t tell as they all performed with energy and gave every impression that they wanted to be exactly where they were. Confidence, at the end of the day, is a trick. Freya (Year 8) deserves credit for stepping into her role at the last minute and playing it with such energy that you’d never have known it was not her part all along – and she was one of many. Many of our younger actors showed that you don’t have to be a big person to have a big voice and a big stage presence. Sarah (Year 8) was a lovely, clear voiced and engaging Sophie in The BFG; Zoe (Year 8) achieved the remarkable task of making a Waitrose shopping bag look like an object of wonder; Olivia (Year 8) lead the chorus of insects with aplomb – great projection and confident in leading the dance. Setting the bar for performances amongst the upper school, Claudia and Liv -both in Year 12- were wonderfully funny as the distraught parents discovering that their daughter is not quite what they expect!

And of course, Seabreake’s tremendous rapping newsreaders who brought the house down – not once, but on every entrance! Led with confidence and sass by Alishba (Year 11) they showed us what House Drama is all about: pizzazz, daring and fun. The music for each play was terrific too. James and the Giant Peach had a great rock music soundtrack with some gorgeous classic tracks, and The Witches had beautiful live accompaniment, led by Lizzie (Year 13) and ably supported by Jay and Jess, both in Year 12.

So… on to the Winners:

Firstly – Best Performers:

From Speedwell: a joint award for Inessa (Year 12), Emma (Year 12) and Imogen (Year 8) as the wicked farmers.

From Maryflowre: joint again for Phoebe (Year 12) and Mia (Year 10) as Aunts Spicer and Sponge.

From Seabreake: Astrid (Year 10) for her turn as the BFG.

From Discoverer: (and also probably the award for the outstanding individual performance of the event overall) Hattie (Year 9) as the Grand High Witch in The Witches.

 Now, the plays:

This was a really hard decision and the judges were not fully in agreement so discussions were had. But this is the final placing…

4th place: Speedwell with Fantastic Mr Fox: lovely costumes, great ensemble playing and really good heroes and villains.

3rd place: Seabreake withthe BFG: really clever casting, beautiful backdrops and undoubtedly the strongest group at getting the audience active and involved.

2nd place: Maryflowre withJames and the Giant Peach: really good use of the stage, this group looked confident and professional in their presentation.

1st place: Discoverer with The Witches: an impressively high standard of acting from the entire cast, lovely ensemble playing and a really well told story.

Bravo!

 

Date Posted: 1 April, 2022

Articles for: Senior, Extra-Curricular

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