In front of packed audiences pupils from each of the six houses at the school took part in the first ever Drama Festival. They performed a one-act play that had pupils and parents laughing, crying, cheering and applauding. The idea of a drama festival which was performed in the College's own Arts Centre came from Head of Drama, Mr. Richard Boswell. He said that he had “wanted a chance for the maximum number of pupils to take part - from the pupils who so successfully directed the plays, to the less thespian members of the houses who could still be involved behind the scenes in backstage and technical support.”
On the first evening the festival was launched by the intermediate girl's house, St. Aidan's, who performed the very powerful play by David Campton, “Cagebirds”. This tragic play was superbly directed by Kate Eisenstein and featured a variety of wonderful costumed characters. This play was followed by Woody Allen's play “God” which one of the boys' house Woodard bravely tackled. With twenty-four characters this was a real team effort and involved elements of Greek Tragedy, 20th Century farce and a supermarket shopping trolley!. All of these elements were ably kept together by the Woodard director, Tom Hockin. The first half of the evening was completed by Meynell House's rendition of Tom Stoppard's “15 Minute Hamlet.” This play produced some of the funniest and bloodiest acting of the evening and was particularly memorable for the appearance of a midget Ghost with flippers and a Shakespearean Star Wars duel. Congratulations go to Matt Watson-Jones for keeping some element of sanity in the tragedy.
After a brief interval the second series of plays started with “Zartan” by N J Warburton. This was performed by another of the boy's houses, Wakeman-Lambart, and was a melodramatic tale of a lost son who was brought up by a family of ants. There were some splendid character performances in the play and some excellent use of both scenery and props. The final boys' house to take the stage was Talbot who brought the subject very close to home with a hilarious performance of John Godber's “Teechers”. This sharply observed tale of life in an inner-city comprehensive was particularly notable for some incredible similarities between characters in the play and teachers at Ellesmere College! The festival was brought to a close by a very polished performance by the Sixth Form Girls House, St. Oswald's. Sophie Woodward directed a performance of Sue Townsend's “Womberang” which described events in a waiting room in a hospitality gynaecology ward. The mixture of comedy and serious message in the play brought the festival to a fitting climax.
Commentary on the plays was provided by Kevin Tomlinson who has recently performed at Ellesmere as part of the Kepow! Theatre company in between working at the Royal National Theatre and the Oxford School of Drama and who gave invaluable feedback to all the performers and some entertainment to the audience in equal measure. The second night of the festival gave the casts a second chance to perform their plays only this time culminating in Ellesmere's very own “Ellies” awards ceremony with some very "Oscar' like masks being presented for a variety of outstanding contributions. As the audience left the only question was how soon until the next one…..
28th November 2002 Back to News