Schools Shakespeare Festival 2017
On Wednesday 18th October 2017 at 7:30 am 30 students excitedly met in reception ready for a 15 hour day at South Hill Park’s Wilde Theatre to perform our entry of Romeo and Juliet in the National Shakespeare School’s Festival. As soon as we arrived the students were shown to their dressing rooms which only added to their excited as they were given West End style dressing rooms complete with the infamous mirror with light bulbs. The incredible T-shirts were designed by two of our extremely talented year 10 graphics students and I would like to give my thanks to Leena for her stunning Montague Rose and Arancha for her Capulet gothic skull design as they captured the style and mood of our concept perfectly. Next was our Technical Rehearsal led by a professional Theatre Director, Sound Technician and Lighting Designer. The students were highly focussed and able to stop and start/jump to different cues to enable the sound and lighting operators to technically support our show for the evening’s performance. I watched on with immense pride at their ability to respond to industry professionals as not just students but young professional actors.
With the Technical Rehearsal complete it was now time for our Dress Rehearsal on stage before the evening performance. Wycombe Abbey’s cast became our audience so the students could adapt to performing to the public instead of an empty drama studio and experience having reactions throughout. Our students showed such resilience despite the tiredness and flagging energy levels after a long morning. It was easy to forget at times they are only year 8, 9, and 10 students because of their work ethic and passion to perform.
With the tech and dress over, some downtime was welcomed. During this break it was heart-warming to see students from different year groups bonding as a tight cast. From completing school work they were missing out on due to being at the theatre to teaching each other and perfecting lines. They really were keen to prove that school work does come first but it is possible to stay up to date whilst partaking in such fantastic time consuming opportunities. One moment that really was touching to witness was when all the students sat together on a mini stage with one student playing his guitar whilst others sang/danced along or watched on with big smiles on their face. I have never worked with such a close and inclusive cast who brought out the best in everyone.
6pm arrived and it was time for the running order to be announced. Our Cast had the honour of being 4th and closing the whole evening of 3 other schools performing their 30 minute versions of some of Shakespeare’s famous plays. It was all hands on deck to support each other in preparing for the final performance. Yet again the students couldn’t not be more supportive of each other as they styled each other’s hair/makeup and costumes for the show. They made this usually highly stressful and quick turnaround process a so easy and enjoyable. With all hair slicked and bandana clad it was time to take our positions in the wings. I cannot accurately describe the electric feeling back stage as students wished each other good luck, hugged, encouraged, fidgeted with nerves, took deep breaths and smiled the widest smiles. You really have to be there to experience this precious moment.
Lights up and music on. Off they went. The production was now out of my hands as the director and into the students’ to showcase all their hard work over the previous 5 weeks. They really did take the audience on a journey through the story of Romeo and Juliet as they created such magic on stage transporting us to this divided city that prevents true love. They acted their hearts out, danced every beat, sang every note. They executed everything I wanted from them and so much more as they were met with laugher, tears and cheers from the audience.
I am immensely proud of every single student that partook in Romeo and Juliet no matter how big or small their part on or off stage. Productions on this scale really are not possible without the solid and committed Creative Arts team I am privileged to work it at DPA. Thank you to every single one of you who contributed to the magic. Long live the memories, experiences and friendships of Romeo and Juliet 2017!
Miss Seymour—Lead Drama Teacher and Director of Romeo and Juliet.