Our Senior and Summer plays are a celebration of talent from across the school. We usually produce these two drama productions each year and students are fully involved in all aspects of the production from acting, to sound, lights and props.
Without a doubt the year past marked a true return to form for the school’s Drama Department after the disruption of the pandemic. The Senior Play, All My Sons, performed 1-3 December 2022, may have used only a small ensemble cast, but it was a refreshing change, allowing actors involved the opportunity to try out for bigger roles.
The story of Arthur Miller's play follows a southern family living in post-war America. The father, Joe Keller, is faced with a tough situation when his youngest son wishes to marry the woman his late son was in love with and with his wife still mourning secrets surrounding the past are slowly revealed over the course of the play. The cast consisted of Aniya Shah, Robin Lawrence, Kitty Tadman, Louis Nardone, Cooper Edwards, Billy Grief-King, Felix Flower, Vaishnavi Garlapalli, Carys Butler, with tech assistance from Ryan McCluskey and was directed by Old Challoner, Ethan Smith.
The performance went a long way in proving that the Drama Department offers an impressive array of resources regarding props, lighting, sound and rehearsal space, especially for intimate dramatic endeavours such as All My Sons.
What we managed to create was a professional piece of serious theatre. A special thanks is due to Mr Flower who brought a number of the different elements together behind the scenes and Ethan Smith who worked tirelessly in the director’s chair to craft his vision and bring our performances to life.
After the initial hurdle of not having the rights to perform Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, The Tempest was selected as this year’s senior play with an eager group of sixth form students on-board to weather the storm. The Tempest, written towards the end of Shakespeare’s career, is a tragicomedy wherein powerful royals from Europe are faced by the oddities of a magical island far removed from what they, or the audience, recognise. A team consisting of Jonnie Kimmins, Ozzy Johnson and myself, along with the tireless help of Mr Millar, were in charge of the production and direction. Our job was made easy by a wonderful cast that included Ollie Norton as Prospero, Raish Hollway as Aries, Hannah Whitby as Miranda and Ludo Gibson as Caliban. The royal court included Samuel O’Tuminu, Jamie Robinson, Conor Nolan, Tadgh Knight, Ravi Sisodyia, Nathan Sweeney and Robin Lawrence. To cap off the main characters, Adam Madslien as Trinculo and Billy Grief-King as Stephano added some much needed comic relief. Lucy Brougham, Nicholas Ortega, Tom Allen, Trayn Hewa Kirindage, Jimmy McHale, as well as Jacob Morgan and Milo Bagot from Year 10, completed the cast. Lighting Design was headed by Rory Collins, Sound Design by Leon Sommer and the music team for the night of the shows was led by Tom Vicary, with the help of Tapasya Sharma and Alex Sayers. The crew was completed by George Driscoll, Seth England, Michael Packer, Julian Sommer and Rex Vidal. A few special thanks have to go to Lucy Brougham and Hannah Whitby who saved the costume situation, and Robin Lawrence for providing the stunning production art.
Panic really set in with less than a fortnight until the performance as a particularly shoddy all-day rehearsal with missed-cues galore, inspired some harsh words from Mr Millar (unsurprisingly) and Jonnie (slightly more surprisingly) that sorted out the issues whilst there was still just about enough time to spare. So with almost a term’s worth of hard work in rehearsals, and a real challenge in terms of pulling it all together at the end, the play was performed on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December 2021. The phrase that we clung on to throughout: ‘It will all come together for the final shows’, came true in a manner that befitted the magic of the play. When I watched it on the Thursday night, it exceeded my expectations. Visually, the set and stage came to life with the help of some last minute additions: the fairy lights, operated dutifully by Seth England, and the fast-dying leaves that were freshly picked from the exotic land of New Court. Amidst this, Ollie delivered a captivating performance as Prospero that subtly balanced the good and evil sides of his character. Aries and Caliban looked as if they were breathing parts of the island, members of the royal court were suitably malevolent and Trinculo and Stephano - with their outlandish outfits and slapstick style - managed to make the audience laugh much more than what the Shakespearean script seemed to allow. It was, in short, a great experience for everyone involved and an ultimate success. This would not have been possible without the help of many others. Mr Flower, Mr Chaudhury and Mrs Wood provided additional direction, whilst a team of teachers and prefects were also crucial to the smooth operation of things. Other teachers and students also played roles, even if that was simply providing a great audience, that made the production feel as if it was an effort of the whole school community. As I leave the school this year, alongside many of the other students who were involved, I think that these are the experiences that we will look back on with particular fondness. The sense of camaraderie that underpinned the magic of this show is something that truly defines the student community of DCGS. To really experience this, I recommend getting involved with productions such as this one and engaging with all the aspects of being a Challoner’s student. To any current students, this is my advice: don’t allow the fear of judgement - as I did for many years - prevent you from embracing these wonderful opportunities. Get involved.