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The Drama Department’s production history has long been admired for the range and quality of the work both in terms of performance skill and technical expertise, with students often working alongside professional practitioners and in professional performance venues.
Recent whole school productions include As You Like It by William Shakespeare, and Earthquakes In London by Mike Bartlett and our very own Edward’s Boys productions of A Trick To Catch The Old One and Grobiana’s Nuptials. In addition to these there are many other performance opportunities throughout the year for students of all ages such as The Physical Fellowship, the Drama Showcase Evening, The Guildhall Recital, House Drama and the Year 8 Classics and Drama Festival all of which allow our students to develop further confidence in performing, team work and of course have lots of fun!
We are very proud of the enrichment experiences organised in abundance for students across the school at theatres such as The Globe, The Young Vic, The National, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Warwick Arts Centre. The Department also works with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to organise talks and access archive materials to support learning.
The school also has a unique theatre company known as ‘Edward’s Boys’ (www.edwardsboys.org) . This is an all-boy acting troupe whose productions of plays by Francis Beaumont, Thomas Dekker and John Webster, John Ford, Ben Jonson, John Lyly, Christopher Marlowe, John Marston, Charles May, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Nashe, and John Redford constitute the largest corpus of early modern drama in present-day performance. Founded and directed by Deputy Headmaster Perry Mills, the company has gained an international reputation for excellence and regularly tour to the universities of Oxford and London, as well as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe. They have also performed at the RSC’s Swan Theatre and The Other Place, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Hall and Middle Temple Hall. Recent productions have also visited France and Italy. Scholars have hailed the company’s work as ‘transformative’ to theatre-historical thinking, and ‘recapturing what it must have been like to see the plays as they were intended to be performed’. ‘Edward’s Boys bear the mark of a great early modern acting company: not only can they enliven seemingly impenetrable prose, maximise the multi-media possibilities of performance, take liberties with text and create fluidity and dynamism in clowning and comedy, but they can take and adapt those qualities as occasion, space and audience require’. Others have predicted that the company’s work ‘really will rewrite the academic theatre history books’: indeed, the first book-length study of the company was published in 2020.
The aim of the group is to provide Year 7 and 8 students the opportunity to develop their Drama skills as well as key transferable skills such as collaboration and confidence. These skills are put to the test each year when the ensemble collaborates with Highly Sprung Performance Company to create an original piece which is performed at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry as part of the Physical Fellowship, the only physical theatre festival for young people in the country.
All students with a keen interest in Drama and the Arts have the opportunity to undertake a Bronze, Silver and Gold Arts Award. The aim of the Arts Award is to support any young person to enjoy the arts, develop creative and leadership skills, and achieve a national qualification.
A House Drama competition is run annually. The Head of Department has designed a format which tests the students’ ability to devise an original performance based on a theme. There are set criteria which include the students providing a production programme. In 2017 we were pleased to welcome Gill Sutherland, Arts Editor of The Herald.
K.E.S. Summer Arts Festival
Each summer the Drama Department organises, in collaboration with other departments, an arts festival that celebrates the creativity of our students. Theatre visits, performances, exhibitions and concerts take place during the month of June and July with highlights such as Puddings and Performance Night, the Classics and Drama Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The Department organises a tour biannually to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to enable students to perform in a professional context, develop cultural experiences by attending other arts events and successfully contribute to a team, with responsibilities and outstanding work ethic. This initiative is highly valued by students and parents and has involved students planning, fundraising, marketing, scriptwriting and committing to hours of extra rehearsals.
For more information concerning this or any other extra-curricular Drama activity at King Edward VI School, please e-mail Mrs Nightingale