St Helen and St Katharine has a thriving drama department which aims to provide high quality extra-curricular productions that are open to everyone. Each year we stage at least one Senior production (jointly with Abingdon School), one Middle School production and one Lower School production. In addition to this there is often a small Senior production, and Abingdon School also provides a joint Senior production.
This year, there are no fewer than seven productions taking place between St Helen’s and Abingdon School, meaning plenty of opportunities for all. Acclaimed American screenwriter and director Richard Linklater has given St Helen’s special permission to perform his seminal 1995 film Before Sunrise as a stage adaptation with a cast of two, including one of our Sixth Form Drama Scholars. A cast of over forty Year 11 and Sixth Form dramatists are hard at work rehearsing Fiddler on the Roof, the charming, honest and heartbreaking musical. Senior St Helen’s girls are also involved in performances of A Matter of Life and Death at Abingdon School.
For the first time we are producing a show specifically for Year 11; a sharp, witty black comedy exploring the world of schoolgirl politics called Numbers. In December Year 9 and 10 are performing the RSC’s adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
In Lower School, Year 7 & 8 are rolling up and joining the circus in a stage adaptation of Jacqueline Wilson’s immensely popular book Hetty Feather. Year 7 also have the opportunity to devise an original piece titled Breaking the Code, exploring spy-craft, espionage and how mathematicians and scientists helped win the Second World War.
Alongside staff-directed plays, girls also produce, direct and perform productions themselves throughout the year. Last year, Year 8 student Cara Crofts co-directed her winning entry for the 2016 annual Playwriting Competition I Pray You Are Safe in Coventry, which was performed in early 2017 as a special lunchtime performance for staff, students and parents. The winner of the 2017 Competition has just been announced and we look forward to seeing Rose Buckley's Cause and Effects brought to life later this academic year.
Playwriting is also available for older years who can receive support from the drama department for their projects. Last year, Lucie Richardson (U6) wrote and directed Hamelin based on her St Katharine’s Study research into the Syrian refugee crisis. This year, Rachel Young (U6) undertook a similar task as part of her Extended Project Qualification, writing and directing the biographical Upper West Side Story, exploring the lives of Hammerstein, Sondheim and other key figures in the golden age of Broadway.
Junior, Lower and Middle School drama clubs work towards lunchtime performances based on improvisational work done throughout the year. Sixth Form drama assistants and teachers run these clubs, offering fun, informal platforms for exploring and developing drama skills through games and activities, and work to give younger students a sense of how they can enhance and improve upon their class work if they choose to continue with drama further up the school.
Quite simply, there is something for everyone in St Helen's Drama. If you are passionate about theatre, keen to learn and willing to devote time and energy to creating exciting work then you can be involved!
Details of drama clubs and activities can be found in Beyond.
Beyond Beyond Planner