USA TOUR 2015

During the Autumn half term, the Drama and Dance departments joined to take our production of Romeo and Juliet on international tour. Having first been presented here in school in June 2015, the production then had a short tour of Scottish Prep Schools (Craigclowen, Cargilfield, Ardvreck) at the beginning of the Autumn Term before leaving for the USA on Thursday 15th October.

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The United States Tour was in two parts, with a total of four performances over ten days. The first port of call was Boston MA where we performed at Boston Latin School. Boston Latin is the oldest school in the United States, amongst its many famous alumni are five signatories of the Declaration of Independence including Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock. We performed in their Black Box Theatre to a group of over 150 students. Whilst in Boston we enjoyed exploring the city, visiting Faneuil Hall Market Place and the Boston Tea Party Museum and walking part off the ‘Freedom Trail’ to learn something of the history of the city and its important role in the Independence of the United States.

 

We travelled by ferry from Boston to the historic town of Salem where we visited the Salem Witch Museum and learned about the events that led to the famous Salem Witch Trials, immortalised so brilliantly in Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’. Whilst in Salem we took a break from performing to watch (and sing along with) a fun production of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, part of the Haunted Happenings Festival that was going on whilst we were there.

Leaving Boston on Sunday 18th, we travelled down to Brooklyn where we were to spend the next few days staying with host families from Middle School 51. Brooklyn was fantastic, with a lovely relaxed atmosphere and all of the host families made the staff and students feel really at home. Our first Brooklyn performance was at Edward Murrow High School on Monday 19th October. This very large school (4000 students) has a strong focus on Performing Arts and we enjoyed meeting some of their Drama students during a workshop led by teachers from both schools. The cast adapted exceptionally well to a new space here, with the audience seated on two sides of the stage. Following the show, the cast gave an excellent Question and Answer session to the audience culminating in an impromptu Robert Burns recitation by Craig F. to the thrilled audience!

On Tuesday, we travelled into Manhattan where we had a lovely bike ride around Central Park and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then it was off to New York University (NYU) to perform to our most mature audience of the tour, a group of PHD education students studying ‘Theatre for Young Audiences’. Again the cast adapted brilliantly to a new space and performed a wonderful and quite intimate show in a small acting studio with no theatre lighting. The cast once again received Questions from the audience and responded with exceptionally intelligent and well informed responses.

Wednesday began with a restful exploration of Brooklyn. We all enjoyed having a bit of down time to look for gifts, search through vintage shops, generally wander through the lovely leafy streets and relax in Prospect Park. On Wednesday evening we held our final performance of Romeo and Juliet in the very large theatre at MS51. It was great to be able to perform for so many of the people who we had all become friends with whilst in Brooklyn and even better to receive a standing ovation for our final show.

Leaving Brooklyn on Thursday felt quite sad, but we headed to Manhattan, knowing that we still had exciting things ahead of us… We celebrated the end of Romeo and Juliet with a meal at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where the waiting staff performed Broadway hits as we ate! We had a cruise on Hudson Bay with excellent views of the Statue of Liberty from the water… We had an amazing stage fighting workshop with a Broadway choreographer and saw the latest Broadway smash, ‘Something Rotten’. Following the show we went backstage and saw the theatre from the stage, with more than a few of the cast imagining themselves up there in front of an audience in the future!  We ended the tour with a midnight trip up the Empire State Building on Friday night were we looked out across the city of New York lit up at night and stretching out as far as we could see.

Throughout the tour the students were fantastic and proved themselves as outstanding ambassadors for the school. They showed their maturity and courageous spirit, not only through their wonderful performances but also everywhere we went and with everyone they spoke to.

I’d like to say an especially huge thank you to the Drama Department at MS51 and to all those who hosted us in their homes whilst we were in Brooklyn. We received such a warm welcome and we’ll remember our time with you all forever.

Year 12 Exam Pieces.

Before the Easter break, the Year 12 AS students presented their exam pieces to the visiting examiner from Edexcel. We don’t know the marks at this stage but we do know that the performances were packed out and that the audiences at the shows were extremely impressed with the quality of the work being presented.

This year we had three plays on offer: the hilarious, yet powerfully poignant ‘Bouncers’ by John Godber, an intense and experiential production of ‘Marat/Sade’ by Peter Weiss and an emotionally naturalistic production of Philip Ridley’s ‘Sparkleshark’.

A massive well done to all of the students involved. They all showed such maturity and hard work and the entire process of creating the plays was a joy from start to finish!

Below is a gallery of photos from the productions. Thanks as always to Mr Andy Thomas for the excellent images, copies of these are available from Calcots Photography: http://calcots.co.uk/

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The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe… The Pictures…

Here are a selection of pictures from our Christmas production of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. If you would like a copy of any of the pictures they are available from the very talented Mr Andy Thomas at http://calcots.co.uk

It was a great show and everyone worked so hard to get it all together in the midst of such a busy term. The audiences were lovely with full houses for every performance. Students, parents and guests all enjoyed the show and we were exceptionally pleased to welcome Tilda Swinton and her family, a really exciting moment for the cast – performing one of Narnia’s most beloved tales to such an extremely talented actress and perhaps the best known White Witch of all!

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By Aslan’s Mane!

Rehearsal for our production of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is in full swing with the screams of battle echoing around Ogstoun on a regular basis as the cast practice their swordplay… Here’s a sneak peak at a part of the 7 foot tall Aslan puppet being built in one of our classrooms by Mr Parker and his occasional group of helpers. The puppet still needs his hessian skin and fur adding but he’s certainly starting to look rather exciting. I might add some pictures of his enormous body (currently hanging from the ceiling of one of our classrooms in Ogstoun!) to the blog at a later date.

The show takes place on 4th, 5th and 6th December.

Gordonstoun Drama at the Edinburgh Fringe

During the summer Gordonstoun took two shows to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe… ‘Avenue Q’ Directed by Mrs Parker with Musical Direction by Mr Burbury and ‘The Cagebirds’ Directed by Mr Parker. Both shows were performed at Cvenues and did brilliantly, with great audiences and great reviews.

The students had a fantastic time at the Fringe and took the opportunity to see a huge number of shows whilst they were there, making friends with loads of other performers and inviting people along to see their own productions.

Everyone enjoyed marching along the Royal Mile promoting the productions and performing extracts of their shows in the street to successfully promote ticket sales.

A brilliant and hugely valuable experience for everyone who was a part of it. Massive thanks go to all the staff who helped to make it all happen and well done to the performers who showed Gordonstoun to be a centre for performing excellence once again!