For David Barrett at The Perse, the true purpose is “getting as many people involved in the theatre and it being a safe space for as many students as possible. It’s reaching out to many aspects of the school, including as many students as possible and helping them find a place where they can fit in and feel comfortable and inspired.” That means encouraging students who want to be involved in productions – just not on stage – to harness their talents in different ways, including costume design, scenic art, stage management as well as sound and lighting design. For the first time, a Perse School student has been appointed as the caller, whose role – clocking every cue and ensuring everyone is where they’re supposed to be – is crucial in the smooth running of the production. “I want the show to be as much student-led as it possibly can be,” says David. At The Leys, high-quality teamwork is a hallmark of every production, with a backstage company run by professional design technicians providing technical support for the shows. Pupils from year 9 and upwards run the lighting and sound, and take on the deputy stage manager role. “It’s a lovely thing, a really collaborative process,” according to John Johnson. Pupils are similarly committed at Stoke College, where their involvement extends to fundraising – something Jo Davey sees as a really important aspect. While there is a budget for productions, she encourages students to be resourceful and creative when funding some of the basics, like glue and paint. They have responded magnificently, organising cake sales that raised £500. “I like them to be part of the process and they’ve taken ownership of it,” she asserts.
Dance, too, is starting to feature more in our area’s schools
It highlights the importance of collaborative working, often involving other subjects, including DT, English and art departments. Their expertise ensures top-quality staging with a consistent wow factor, ranging from the creation of a huge staircase painted to look like marble for The Perse School’s production of Legally Blonde , to a cool-looking jukebox improvised from cardboard and tin cans for Stoke College’s West Side Story . For families who have missed out on getting tickets to any productions this time (they’re almost invariably sold out), there’s no need to worry. Performances from small and informal to glittering whole-school events happen throughout the year.
In addition to drama productions, there are musical ensembles and bands covering a range of musical styles as well as crossovers with drama and music. The goal is to encourage pupils to follow their interests. At St Faith’s, for example – which boasts 19 different ensembles, from a jazz band and flute quartet to a chamber choir – two pupils are currently learning the bagpipes and one is studying the harp, with lunchtime concerts providing informal, confidence-boosting showcases for their musical talents. Dance, too, is starting to feature more in our area’s schools, embracing an array of genres from jazz to hip-hop. It’s also hugely popular with pupils. According to one
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