14th November 2013
On Thursday 14th November and with 29 very excited Year 11 students in tow, Miss Davies, Miss Harley and Mr Crespel set off for four action-packed days of theatre and excitement in the ‘big smoke’! We were all looking forward to seeing London in the build up to Christmas and we weren’t disappointed; we saw the city in all its tinsel-filled and twinkly lighted glory!
Whilst we were there we saw a variety of plays and musicals, including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Commitments, War Horse and a new play at the National Theatre called Emil and the Detectives. The plays gave the girls lots to write about in their coursework and plenty of ideas for their practical pieces. The students made notes during the shows and we discussed each performance on our return to school. The writing of notes is a key skill in Drama at GCSE. Girls use their notes to revise each play, in order to write on one of their favourites in the written exam. Girls are expected to hand in notes for 3 of the 5 performances and most have chosen to write on Curious Incident and War Horse with a few writing on The Commitments and the others on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We were disappointed by Emil and the Detectives, however, the scenery used has given us all a lot to think about in terms of staging and design. The exciting thing about the London trip is that the plays are a springboard for innovative performance work. We are sure the girls will use lots of the ideas they encountered in their moderation next year.
As well as watching productions, the girls also enjoyed various practical workshops and backstage tours. We had a morning at the National Theatre and this enabled us to see close up the technicians milling around the various stages preparing for the evening performances. We were given details on the three spaces at the National and were taken around the backstage areas of each one. We sat in the audience seats at the Lyttleton, the Olivier and the Shed and listened attentively to our guides as they explained how this repertory theatre works. We asked a lot of questions along the way about plays we had seen or were going to see on the trip (both War Horse and Curious Incident started their lives at the National). It was a great morning. We also visited Shakespeare’s Globe and had a tour of the theatre followed by a lively workshop on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This helped enormously with our understanding of the play itself, its themes and characters. Finally we had a Saturday morning physical theatre workshop with the radical company Frantic Assembly at Pineapple Studios and this gave the students lots of ideas for their forthcoming practical exams.
What made the trip most magical though, aside from the many wonderful theatrical experiences that we had, was the beauty of the city in the days before Christmas. We enjoyed riding carousels on the South Bank and shopping for our families in the Christmas Yule markets. We raced to theatres when we thought we were going to be late and drank far too many coffees…the teachers anyway!
Whilst it was incredibly tiring and at times hard work, all in all it was a great weekend for both staff and pupils. We all enjoyed ourselves and learnt a lot!