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.

20151015_085647

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.

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.

Visiting Productions This Term

We’ve got a very exciting term of live professional theatre ahead of us so I thought a little preview was in order…

On Thursday 19th September we’ll have Dogstar Theatre performing their production ‘The Baroness’ by Thor Bjorn Krebs here at the Ogstoun Theatre. It’s a brilliantly written play about an extraordinary friendship between the ageing writer of Out of Africa, (Karen Blixen’s pen-name was Isak Dinesen) and a young poet, Thorkild Bjornvig.

On the 26th September we’ll be travelling to Eden Court with our Year 13 students to see the National Theatre production of Othello broadcast live to the screen in the cinema. The production stars Olivier Award winning actors Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear as Othello and Iago and is directed by Nicholas Hytner.

Finally on 2nd October we have Catherine Wheels Theatre Company in the Ogstoun Theatre performing their production ‘Lifeboat’ written by Nicola McCartney and directed by Gill Robertson.

On Friday 13 September 1940, a ship, The City of Benares, set sail from Liverpool for Canada. On board were 90 evacuees escaping the relentless bombing and dangers of war torn Britain. Four days into the crossing, the ship was torpedoed and sank. Only eleven of the evacuees survived.

Two fifteen year old girls, Bess Walder and Beth Cummings, spent 19 terrifying hours in the water on an upturned lifeboat. They willed each other to survive. Lifeboat tells their story.

Year 13 Theatre Studies Last Lesson

Today we had our last ever drama lesson with our current Year 13 students! We had great fun rehearsing for their final performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. We even had time to have a mini-brew where we presented them with Gordonstoun A-level Drama T-shirts and the students showed off their talents with rather adept impersonations of one another!

The students will be on stage tomorrow for the very last time at Open Day. We wish them every possible success in the future in whatever they choose to do. They have all been an absolute pleasure to teach.

Image