What an amazing bunch of young people!  I had the pleasure of leading the Drama trip to London last weekend with a full schedule planned for Friday and Saturday, and I can honestly say that it was the best school trip I have been on.

We left for London in anticipation of a workshop run by Out of Joint Theatre Company, led by Max Stafford Clark himself.  This was a real treat and despite suffering a series of strokes in 2006, Max was engaging in his approach.  He certainly gave us food for thought in bringing Wertenbaker’s ‘Our Country’s Good’  to life ahead of the written examination.  He is famous for his work on status and actioning, and gave us a real insight into ways in which we might rehearse, focusing particularly on relationship, hierarchy and contextual detail.

We then made our way to the Arcola Theatre, an edgy little theatre in Dalston to see the company’s production of a new play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, ‘Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern’.  This powerful play was inspired by real life events: Jane Wenham was tried for witchery in 1712 following an intense period of witch hunting.  Performed by a company of seven actors, the persecution of Jane Wenham, an outsider known for her interest in herbs and free living, had us on the edge of our seats.  The acting was raw and deeply moving in parts, and I think everyone agreed that the use of a simple set was nothing short of inspired.

On Saturday morning, we made the most of the South Bank, heading for the Tate Modern and later to the National Theatre.  We were given a backstage tour, dropping into the Olivier Theatre and the more intimate and highly technological Dorfman – here, seats are computerised to calculate the amount of CO2 in a room, in order to know how many people fill the auditorium and adjust air conditioning levels accordingly! 

We moved between carpentry and design suites and got to handle the props from various productions that have played in repertoire.  It was exciting to see large-scale sets being built and the scenic painting studio, which transforms sheets of plywood into marble, gold and the most amazing backdrops.  It was also of some interest to learn that they positively encourage young people interested in theatre design, to apply for work experience.

The final part of our trip took us into the West End to see ‘Stomp!’  This was a highly engaging and comical performance, which employed the most amazing amount of rhythms, played out on dustbins, brooms and even kitchen sinks!  It was a great way to end our visit.

We travelled by tube and train and covered large areas on foot, all without a hitch.  A particular thank you to Miss Vickers for having things so beautifully ordered, and a very well done to the group.

Emily Harris, Head of Drama