As You Like It Workshop

As we get closer to the date of the performance of this year’s entry for the Schools Shakespeare Festival (save the date – 25th January!) preparations are moving on rapidly.

The latest step towards this was the visit by a member of the SSF team to run a workshop with the cast and crew to explore important elements of their performance. Peta Maurice worked with the Year 8 and 9 students on their stagecraft, giving the group her Top Tips for being on stage as well as looking at vocal exercises. The group then went on to look at staging the final scenes of the play.

The students had a great time and were really focused on a day that was long and challenging for them. AS YOU LIKE IT is going to be amazing when we take it to the Tobacco Factory, Bristol in January. Watch out for information on how you can see the show!

Visit to The Salisbury Playhouse

The casts of NT Connections and the Shakespeare School’s Festival took a break from rehearsals to travel to the Salisbury Playhouse to watch the Ramps on the Moon production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. This performance was full inclusive and featured the innovative use of audio description, captioning as well as British Sign Language. The SSF appreciated the opportunity to watch another play by the Bard whilst the NT Connections cast and crew were excited to see the stage they will be performing on in March 2023. The students were excellent company – with members of staff and the audience commenting on their exemplary behaviour.

What the students said

I was moved by how accessible it was to people and how it showed many unique and talented actors because it will impact greatly on the younger children there, and for people that share the same condition as the actors, they will gain a role model. I cannot stress enough how much joy this could and will bring to someone.

I found the highlight of the show to be the outstanding work that the design team put into the set and lighting.

Overall this play was enjoyable to watch for everyone, it was beautifully and compassionately created the experience accessible for all.

Drama Awards 2022

Students from across the year groups and their invited guests got together to celebrate the Drama season 2021/2022 with an ‘Oscars’ style awards evening. Local celebrity Jon Monie, whose filming schedule prevented him being there in person, opened the proceedings with a recorded, but nevertheless, inspiring speech about the importance of taking part in the Arts and the benefits it can bring. The seven categories were then announced – including ‘Best Debut Performer’ to ‘The Technical Award’ and the ‘Drama Department’s Star of the Year’. All those who particpated in the season were rewarded with a certifcate but only the seven winners were presented with a special ‘St Laurence’ oscar style statuette. These will prove to be highly sought after, as one student remarked afterwards ‘I’m going to work really hard and get one of those next year!’ This was the first time the Drama Awards have been held but we are already looking forward to celebrating this season next year! Congratulations to all the nominees and winners and to everyone who made last year’s Drama season such an enjoyable and successful one.

Hot Off The Press!

We are absolutely thrilled to have been chosen as one of only 300 school and youth groups across the UK to take part in the National Theatre Connections programme 2023. Mrs Warren and Mrs Nash are busy reading ten specially commissioned plays in preparation for choosing which we will perform – firstly at school then at the SALISBURY PLAYHOUSE in March!! One production of each of the ten plays also gets selected to perform at the NATIONAL THEATRE in London – but one step at a time!! Thank you @NTConnections for selecting us – we can’t wait to start work!

#Connections2023

Brainstorm

The second half of the summer festival was the semi devised play ‘Brainstorm’.  Originally created by the Company Three Youth Theatre, the play consists of a ‘blueprint’ with scripted lines which explain the workings of a teenager’s brain.  The rest of the dialogue is devised by the performers themselves.  The result was a highly entertaining and thought-provoking piece which, due to its relatable and personalised nature, had the audience gripped throughout.  The 30 strong cast made up of students in Years 7-10 expertly controlled the emotions of their audience, making them laugh at the recognisable interactions and conversations that take place between parents and their offspring everywhere, before leaving them in tears with the overriding and highly emotive final message of the piece. The cast also dealt brilliantly with audience interaction – including a revealing game of ‘Never Have I Ever’! The play ends with the cast reading out unseen advice that the audience were asked to provide before the show and these, together with messages that the cast wanted to share with their parents, meant that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the curtain call. It’s safe to say that those watching and all of us involved in the creation of the piece, have a far deeper understanding of our relationships as a result of watching this brave and talented cast perform such a powerful piece of theatre. 

I would like to thank Mrs Warren and Mr Parker for all their help with the show – as well as Miss Watts who is always able to figure out those tricky movements where counting is involved!  Thanks also to the dedicated crew of students who stage managed and worked on lights, sound and projection and to everyone who stayed to watch.

If you missed this performance there will be a link sent out in due course – it won’t be as good as seeing it live, but it’s better than missing out entirely!

It’s been a busy year in the Drama department – from the Year 9 production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ way back in February, the Year 10 production of ‘When This is Over’, GCSE and A Level Devised and Scripted Assessments and the junior production of ‘Matilda’. Brainstorm was a brilliant end to the 2021/2022 season. The Drama department can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Catherine Nash

Head of Drama

Hanging Out At ‘Fat Sam’s Grand Slam’!

49 students in Year 7-10 enjoyed a trip to the Bath Theatre Royal to watch the production of ‘Bugsy Malone’. For those that were familar with the film it was a chance to meet old friends including ‘Tallulah’ and ‘Blousey Brown’. Those who didn’t know the story were in for a treat as gangsters ‘Fat Sam’ and ‘Dandy Dan’ battled it out for control of 1920’s New York. The splurge was in disappointingly short supply but the dance numbers and catchy tunes had us all clicking our fingers and singing along for days!

Summer Festival Preparations

Preparations are in full swing for our summer festival featuring a performance of ‘Brainstorm’. Tickets are available now from ParentPay for this music and drama extravaganza which takes place from 7pm on Wednesday 13th July in the Wiltshire Music Centre. Join us for a celebration of our talented music and drama students as they play, sing and perform in what promises to be a very memorable evening. We love the poster, designed by Mr Bruten and incorporating a stunning image by Year 13 student Nicole.

Year Devised Performances

Year 10 GCSE Drama students showed off their acting and costume design skills in their devised performances. These, together with written coursework, make up 40% of their total GCSE so the stakes were high but the students rose admirably to the challenge! Topics covered were varied and included a comic murder mystery influenced by Hercule Poirot and Film Noir, the French Revolution as it’s never been seen before, the stages of a toxic relationship (which arose from a cartoon of Kermit the Frog finding out he was actually a puppet – look it up!) and the life of Syliva Pankhurst. The students entertained family and friends with their creative and entertaining performances. We look forward to them taking on scripted extracts next year.

Magical Matilda Makes It – At last!

It was a long time coming but the junior production of ‘Matilda’ at St Laurence School marked a joyous step in the journey back to normality. The 40 strong cast and crew – predominantly Year 7 & 8 – wowed their audiences at both the matinee (performed to local primary schools Winsley and Walwayne) and in the evening to a packed Wiltshire Music Centre. Backstage the hairs on the back of our necks stood up every time the audience reacted with laughs and applause and the standing ovation at the end left us in no doubt that a great job had been done by all. The students were fantastic – both onstage and off – with some wonderful characterisation and impressive ensemble work. The crew was also made up of students from Years 8 – 10, in charge of the lighting, projections and stage management.

As Headmaster Tim Farrer remarked at the end ‘the Arts are back at St Laurence!’

Year 10/11 Go To The Theatre!

GCSE Drama students in Year 10 and 11 enjoyed a night at the Bath Theatre Royal to watch the set text ‘Blood Brothers’ by Willy Russell. Now in it’s 41st year, the musical is always a crowd pleaser and the students were impressed by the set, acting and singing. Comments in theatre reviews written after the event included

‘I was gripped by the characterisation, particularly of Eddie and Mickey’

‘The way that narration and songs were incorporated was very impressive’

‘It was an amazing opportunity’

‘the set was absolutely beautiful’

The pupils were excellent company throughout the evening and a fine time was had by all – even by Mrs Nash who has now seen the play about 20 times (and STILL jumps when the guns go off!)