After sixteen years, we have finally celebrated a roasting Poetry and Prose!  Gone were the thick jumpers, cast aside were the blankets and in their place, linen suits and floaty dresses were the sartorial choice for the evening!

The night began with an appeal from Xander Veitch and Ben Stone to donate in a ‘bouquet’ to the Society for the Mispronunciation of Worms…I mean, Words! Several members of staff’s names were mangled in this opener. Xander and Ben went on to delight us with an Armstrong and Miller sketch, where a former pupil, now a surgeon, gets to exact revenge on his former school games master. A lesson for us all there, I think!

I was delighted that so many of Year 7 took part with such enthusiasm and dedication. Tilly Street and Isobel Gray performed an extract from the musical Hamilton  with great maturity. Maddie Nickell delighted us all with the alliterative poem, Bees Bothered  by Bold Bears and Will Gulliver read his short-listed story for the BBC’s 500 Word Story Competition.

There was no shortage of Shakespeare after last year’s celebrations. Delilah Johns, Marnie Clark and Sophie Burnett from Year 7, moved swiftly through the marquee as the arguing Oberon, Titania and Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I would not like to get on the wrong side of Sophie! We also witnessed another argument from the same play, this time between the four lovers, played by Evie Kennett, Maddie Dempsey, Callum Gee and Charlie Bolton. What fantastic talent we have in Year 7! I look forward to them developing their skills for next year.

Alex Maclaren and Ben Pearson made the extract they performed from The Two Gentlemen of Verona  accessible to all. I was delighted to hear a member of staff say that they could understand it and ‘isn’t Shakespeare funny?’ Well done, Ben and Alex.  Ben opened the second act with his powerful and chilling performance as Shylock from The Merchant of Venice  and following on from the theme of antisemitism, Izzy Robinson read the poem Shoes,  about the Holocaust, with quiet dignity and pathos.

It was a time of goodbyes too. Our wonderful Head Girl, Claudia Eeles, a long-time supporter of Poetry and Prose, recited the poem Lamplight,  which has particular poignancy this year with the centenary of The Great War.  Josie Drake is also leaving us this year and she elicited a few ‘go girl’ cheers for her satirical observations of a women’s collective in the 1980s! Finally, my two co-hosts, James Caldwell and Sophie Lindsay closed the show with an extract from Stoppard’s play, Arcadia.  They fell in love with this play and as their Literature teacher, I have to add that this is what makes teaching the best job in the world. James joined Ben Stone for Rowan Atkinson’s The Headmaster Sketch. All in very dubious taste, but we all roared with laughter.

Oliver Morgan kept me on tenterhooks about his inclusion in the programme but then amazed us all with his performance from Pinter’s The Caretaker.  Not to be outdone, Oliver’s equally talented sister, Milly, then caused us all to breathe deeply with her visceral performance from Gut Girl.  The Year 9 girls are clearly talented at the darker aspects of life because Thea Knight and birthday girl, Olivia Wallis, injected a real sense of menace into their extract from The Girl With All The Gifts.   Fortunately, Harry Cole was on hand to cheer us all up with some excellent words of advice from F Scott Fitzgerald to his eleven year old daughter. The words still seem as relevant now as they were in 1933 when Fitzgerald wrote the letter.

We had two new Sixth Form pupils perform this year: Cora Throckmorton and Lukas Mickivicius. Cora’s rendition of Five Ways To Kill A Man  was excellent and Lukas’ delightful reading of a beautiful Lithuanian myth in poetic form made the entire audience eager to book holidays to Lithuania immediately.

Lexie Drake gave a sparkling interpretation of Jane Austen’s satirical letter on a young lady’s view of marriage and Alice Robinson countered this with Cagebirds  and the symbolism of being trapped and controlled. This idea of love and relationships was brought bang up-to-date with Archie Fogg’s hilarious and wince-inducing piece on internet dating and setting his sister up with his English teacher! At the other end of the spectrum, Emma Aspray and Phoebe Bolton reminisced on their youth from the perspective of two old ladies, who are not quite ready to give up the good things in life just yet! Emma and Phoebe have been great supporters of Poetry and Prose over the years, as has Amelia Eden-Hamilton, who amused us with the dilemma of what to do when you really do not want to be responsible for the emergency door in an aircraft!

Finally, I will end with a huge thank you to Emma Brumby for her hilariously-penned sketch performed by Lily Aldridge and Imogen Brumby. The girls were brilliant as Edina and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, now running the PR for Warminster School, entitled, Absolutely Fabulous Heads-Up!  How Lily survived the heat in her fur coat, I don’t know. Presumably, all that Bolly, darling. How will we top that next year? Ah, that’s the challenge!

See you all in 2018.

Susie Parrack