Year 12 Pitlochry Theatre Trip

Earlier this term we took our Year 12 Theatre Studies students for a great overnight trip to Pitlochry to see three plays at the Festival Theatre. With the theatre holding its annual reparatory season, we were able to see three very contrasting plays – Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Improbable Fiction’, Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and the musical ‘A Little Night Music’ by Stephen Sondheim. It was a lovely trip with lovely weather, really enjoyable shows and a great atmosphere at the Festival Theatre.

20150924_10533520150924_11164620150924_112413

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/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Year 12 AS Theatre Studies in London

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just before half-term we took our Year 12 AS Theatre Studies students away for our annual tour to London. We visited Aldro School where our students showed a production of Robin Hood that they had created especially for the occasion. Then the Aldro School pupils enjoyed taking part in a workshop given by Gordonstoun staff and students. A huge thanks to everyone at Aldro for hosting us, it was a lovely way to start the trip.

Of course whilst we were in London we took the chance to see as much live theatre as we could fit in. Seeing ‘The Woman in Black’ is always a part of this trip and greatly enjoyed by everyone (although a few students spent some of the time cowering under their coats in fear!). We also saw ‘Matilda’ and The National Theatre’s stage version of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

As well as goinig to the theatre to watch shows, we also took a guided tour of The Globe Theatre and then walked all the way across London to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum to see the Theatre Exhibition… with a walk of nearly six miles we took in the London Eye, The Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park, Green Park, the Wellington Memorial, Buckingham Palace and The Mall… some described it as the only Exped ever done in the centre of London!

Another highlight was going to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios to see the sets, props and costume used in the films. It was fascinating to see the detail and effort that went into creating the magical world of Hogwarts!

It was a great trip and everyone gained a great deal of experience, whether by taking part in performance, seeing live theatre or just by learning and understanding new and useful things for their A-level course.

Year 12 Shows

Three fantastic shows were presented to the examiner from Edexcel last week by the Year 12 students on our AS Drama and Theatre Studies course. The shows were really well recieved by the audience and we have high hopes for some great results in August. These plays, along with the coursework on Metamorphosis by Steven Berkoff and Equus by Peter Shaffer and a final monologue or duologue piece next term will make up the assessed work for the final grade.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht

Brecht wrote the play whilst in exile from Germany in Finland in 1941. The play was not performed in English until 1961. It is written as a satirical allegory of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and was intended to parallel the rise of the German leader through the tale of a small time gangster rising to political power in 1930’s Chicago.

The production follows the life of Arturo Ui as he gradually rises to power by bribing, corrupting and murdering those standing in his way. Beginning with protection rackets, he gains political power through leverage and bribery.

Eventually, not content with the power he holds in Chicago, Ui annexes the town of Cicero and sets his sights on even bigger targets.

Here is a slideshow of images from The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice by Jim Cartwright

Originally written in 1992, Little Voice was first performed at the Royal National Theatre. This comedy is set in a Northern town in England, telling the story of a shy, reclusive girl named Little Voice and her larger than life, out of control mother Mari. Desperately missing her dead father, Little Voice spends her time locked in her bedroom listening to his old record collection and perfecting astonishing impersonations of famous divas including Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Dusty Springfield.

When Mari starts dating small time club agent Ray Say, she thinks he’s her last chance for a better life. When Ray Say hears Little Voice sing, he thinks she’s his ticket to the big time. He contacts the money-grabbing Mr Lou Boo, and does a deal to get her performing at the local club. Little Voice just wants a normal life and to be loved, and strikes up a tentative friendship with Billy, the Telephone Man, who has his own fixation with theatre lights. In the background is the faithful Sadie, next-door neighbour and doormat. Not everyone is going to get what they want.

Here is a slideshow of images from The Rise and Fall of Little Voice:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

An Inspector Calls by J.B.Priestley

Written in 1945 and first performed in Russia before opening in London in 1946, the play is a sharp critique of the superficial and selfish political perspective of the Edwardian upper-middle class set in late 1912.

A dinner party at the residence of the rich and influential Birling family is interrupted by the visit of an ‘Inspector Goole’. The Inspector spends the evening explaining how everyone present at the party has been influential in the life and subsequent suicide of a local girl. Although they all deny any involvement at first their hypocrisies are gradually exposed by the insistent questioning until they are left shattered by the truth of their callous and shallow behaviour.

After the Inspector leaves in the final act a surreal plot twist tells us that the Inspector was not with the police at all – he was an imposter. What is more, no girl has died in the infirmary that day, or in recent months. The family pulls its shattered pride together and Mr and Mrs Birling prepare to return to what they see as ‘proper’ behaviour. Only Sheila and Eric (her brother) seem unwilling to return to their blinkered ways, insisting that if nothing bad had happened, it was only fortunate since everything they had told the Inspector had been true and things could have gone terribly wrong.

Mr Birling laughs this silliness off and tries to persuade Sheila to reinstate her engagement to Gerald when he is interrupted by a telephone call. It is the police, and an Inspector is on his way to talk about a girl who has committed suicide.

Here is a slideshow of images from An Inspector Calls:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well done to all of the Year 12 AS level students. You all put in a tremendous amount of hard work and made your directors’ proud. Three very different plays were produced to a very high standard.

More Year 12 Theatre Studies Tour

What a fantastic week it’s been! We’ve performed at Solihull School and at Bloxham School, We’ve seen four amazing plays, all different to one another and yet all really fantastic, we’ve toured the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, we’ve been to the Theatre Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum and we’ve had really, really great time!

Ready to perform at Solihull School

Ready to perform at Solihull School

Working with pupils at Bloxham School

Working with pupils at Bloxham School

The students at the two schools we visited really enjoyed our production. Our play showed images from the First World War, through a discussion between three great theatre practitioners of the early 20th Century – Stanislavski, Brecht and Artaud. We presented the scenes in the piece using techniques that these three practitioners might have used in their different approaches to theatre.

At Bloxham School

At Bloxham School

At Solihull School

At Solihull School

In Stratford-Upon-Avon we visited the RSC where we were given a really fantastic tour, seeing both Front of House and backstage areas and learning a little of the fascinating history of the theatre. During the evening we attended a production of ‘Titus Andronicus’ in the RSC’s Swan Theatre. This was Shakespeare meets Tarantino in perhaps the most violent of all of Shakespeare’s works. With 20 litres of fake blood being used in the production we were astonished by the final fight scene, as several major characters died in quick succession!

Arriving in London we went straight to the Duchess Theatre to watch Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’. This allegorical play parodies the rise of Adolf Hitler and the powerful ending reminds the audience that the rise of such tyrannical characters is indeed, often resistible.

Early the next day we had a very interesting visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum to explore the Theatre Exhibition and then took the chance to examine the Elmgreen and Dragset exhibition ‘Tomorrow’ which allowed us access into a stage play with no script where we were able to explore the life and home of an imagined architect, meeting the staff of his house and examining his belongings as we tried to piece together what had happened to him.

The Strange world of Elmgreen and Dragset’s ‘Tomorrow’

Students dressed up in costumes at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Students dressed up in costumes at the Victoria and Albert Museum

During the afternoon we went to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane to see the Musical of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory directed by Sam Mendes. This lavish show with extraordinary costumes and sets was a wonderful spectacle. We all enjoyed the Umpa Lumpas and we were astonished by the flying Great Glass Elevator.

Check out those Umpa Lumpas

After a brief rest and a bit of time to take on fuel… we attended our final show of the tour, the spine chilling ‘Woman in Black’ at the Fortune Theatre. This was a great way to end the tour, we were all frightened out of our wits by the simple yet effective staging used in this long running production. The audience jumped and screamed through the show and the eponymous Woman, caused many serious shocks to the system!

It doesn’t look scary…

We crammed so much into this fantastic trip and the students we took with us were absolutely fantastic, working really hard, presenting their own work and giving great feedback on the productions we saw in London. This trip will have given them so much that they can use for their A Level work, both in the compulsory review that they have to write and towards the practical productions they will be staging next term.

Here’s a short video I’ve made which shows a little of what we got up to as well as extracts from the work we performed whilst we were there… Enjoy.

Recent Shows in the Ogstoun Theatre

20131002_212330

We’ve had two excellent visiting Theatre Companies with us during the past two weeks, with Dogstar Theatre bringing the dark and compelling drama, ‘The Baroness’ and Catherine Wheels Theatre bringing the vibrant and energetic play, ‘Lifeboat’.

Both plays were performed just for our exam students and the Ogstoun Theatre was filled with our GCSE and A-level students, who proved to be receptive and well focused audiences.

It’s wonderful to have such high calible companies bringing their work to us and we’re really pleased to have been able to host them.

The set of Lifeboat in the Ogstoun Theatre

The set of Lifeboat in the Ogstoun Theatre

Our Year 13 students also had a real treat last week with a visit to Eden Court to see the NT Live production of Othello beamed live to the cinema screen from the National Theatre. This was an amazing production with outstanding central performances from Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear. It really got the Year 13 students thinking about the Shakespeare work they’ll be studying later in the term.

Next week the Year 12 Theatre Studies students will embark on their mini tour to the South East of England. We’ll be taking work to show in schools down there and taking the opportunity to see several West End theatre productions. Whilst we’re there we’ll blog regularly about our adventures!

Fantastic Drama Exam Results

Now that the results are all in for both A-level and GCSE, I think a post is in order to celebrate the achievements our drama students have made.

A huge well done to every single one of you in Year 11, 12 and 13. Whatever you have achieved we are very proud of you all.

An amazing 55% of our Year 13 students achieved A* or A grades at A level. A special well done goes to Jolley and Lutra for their A*’s.

In GCSE Drama this year an fabulous 52% of our Year 11 drama students achieved an A grade.

We are also pleased with the AS results. Although we don’t have official grades because most students are going on to study A2 this year, 71% of the Year 12’s achieved what would be an A or B grade if cashed in, with the other students close behind them. This means they’ll be very well set for doing extremely well at the end of Year 13.

Taking the results as a whole, it’s great to see so many students achieving their full potential and being rewarded for the fantastic work, both practical and written that was created last year.