Shrewsbury School

First Live Performances in New Barnes Theatre

Friday 16 October 2020

This week saw the first live performances in the Barnes Theatre, as both GCSE and A level students took to the stage with their devised pieces.

This was a showcase of the originality, imagination and talent of our drama students, with both year groups producing engaging, entertaining and sometimes heartbreaking work.

On Tuesday, the Fifth Form began with Rufus, Kate and Abby, who told the story of Albert Einstein’s first wife. Despite her contribution to the development of Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, Meleva Maric has been consigned to the margins of history. Kate brought real pathos and humanity to the role of a woman whose talents were thwarted.

Phoebe, Eleanor, Renee and Camilla were also inspired by a real-life story: the fraud of the Cottingly Fairies. In 1917, a pair of teenage girls near Bradford convinced the world that they had taken photographs of fairies in the woods near their home. The hoax convinced a number of high-profile experts, including the writer of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Con Doyle. The girls’ retelling of the story was charming and spirited, demonstrating an imaginative use of physical theatre techniques.

They were followed by Ed, Eva, Jack and Tom, who had adapted Roald Dahl’s chilling story of a landlady-turned-taxidermist who stuffs and mounts her lodgers. Ed and Eva were compelling as the landlady and her latest victim, whilst Jack and Tom demonstrated great versatility and physical discipline in their role as the chorus.

The final piece was based on verbatim material from the charity ‘Henpowered.’ The charity brings chickens into care homes in order to give elderly men a hobby and a purpose. Laurie, Harry, Alex and Ryan gave nuanced and touching performances that captured both the humour and the poignancy of the residents’ experiences.

On Thursday, it was the turn of the Upper Sixth, who produced performances exploring two of the greatest poetic love stories. Annie, Phoebe and Ed were inspired by the work of hyper-realist director Katie Mitchell to create a powerful retelling of the relationship between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Using text drawn from Plath’s posthumous collection, ‘Ariel’ and Hughes’ ‘Birthday Letters’, they sought to illuminate the experience of Plath’s daughter Frieda, as she seeks to make sense of her mother’s life, marriage and suicide.

Orlando, Arthur, Immy and Olivia delved further into literary history, choosing to tell the story of Caroline Lamb’s doomed romance with Lord Byron, the man she famously dubbed ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. Immy gave a visceral performance as Caroline, showing her descent from society darling into scandal and madness. Orlando and Arthur, as Lord Melbourne and Lord Byron, played the men who loved – and ultimately destroyed – her; whilst Olivia made a delightfully impish Queen Victoria.

Huge congratulations to all involved.

back to top