St Helen and St Katharine has a thriving Drama Department which aims to present high quality extracurricular 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.
Last year, there were 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 staged Fiddler on the Roof, the charming, honest and heartbreaking musical. Senior St Helen’s students were also involved in performances of A Matter of Life and Death at Abingdon School.
For the first time we produced 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 performed the RSC’s adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
In Lower School, Year 7 and 8 were 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, students also produce, direct and perform productions themselves throughout the year. This year, Year 8 student Rose co-directed her winning entry for the 2017 annual Playwriting Competition Cause and Effects, which was performed in early 2018 as a special lunchtime performance for staff, students and parents. The winner of the 2018 Competition has just been announced and we look forward to seeing Poppy's Turn the Tide 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, Rachel (Upper Sixth) wrote and directed the biographical Upper West Side Story, exploring the lives of Hammerstein, Sondheim and other key figures in the golden age of Broadway, as part of her Extended Project Qualification.
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.
Planner - Lent 2019