Last week two Year 12 playwrights, assisted by Mrs Gibbons, led a group of seven pupils in workshopping and performing a few scenes of their new piece. There was a catch however, they only had five days to rehearse the scenes that they would perform!
The play itself depicts a group of schoolboys facing a dystopian world as they are trapped inside a classroom. It explores the relationships between them, considering the effect of pressure and suspicion on their relationships and sense of unity.
Press Officer Charlie Lewis kept a diary of his ‘play in a week’ experience:
Today began our week-long journey. The goal was set that on Sunday at 3.45pm we would perform a few scenes in front of a select audience. The Year 12 writers assigned each of us a character, and we began a table read of the play. Understandably, it took time to get used to the characters, with whom we were entirely unfamiliar. However, as we went on, our fluidity and understanding improved. By the end we were reading at a decent quality, I think!
In our session today we resumed our table read, exploring scenes 4 to 8, however, we also had a new arrival, who hadn’t been able to come yesterday. We were really impressed at how quickly he understood his character, and was able to blend in with our vision for the piece.
We began today discussing the script with its two writers, giving ideas and feedback based on our table read. Then we began to add movement to two of the scenes, and this was actually quite difficult! Since we were still reading off the script, trying to move and react to other people’s lines was not easy by any stretch. We played around with the scenes though, finding out what worked and what didn’t, and by the end of the session, we had managed to stage the fight scene and the opening scene – not bad for about 45 minutes!
We continued to stage scenes today, specifically Scenes 3 and 8. These were quite complex given space restrictions, but I think we managed to make the most of what we had, using tables and chairs to mimic the walls of the stage. It was a productive session and by the end everyone began to feel that we were nearly ready to perform.
Today was our last practice before we performed on Sunday, so we used the time rehearsing the scenes again to make sure we didn’t forget what we’d practiced; it was easy to lose track of what we had decided and staged given the speed of our rehearsal period. Our session today gave us much more confidence about performing the piece.
Today was performance day. In order to fine-tune some of the scenes, we arrived early to get in a bit more practice before it was time to perform. We now had a few props including a backpack and a pistol, which we hadn’t practiced with yet, so it was quite unnerving! There wasn’t much time to consider this though, as the audience swiftly arrived, and we started. I think it went well, a play in a week is something to be proud of!
Over the week, the input from Year 11 actors like Charlie was invaluable. They helped the two C Block playwrights to workshop their play by exploring characters, plot, tension and looking at different interpretations. After the final rehearsed reading, there was a useful discussion session with the invited audience, writers and cast where exciting ideas were shared. This process has given the playwrights a chance to learn more about the play’s possibilities, before their next rewrite over the summer. They have just heard that they have been awarded an Independent Play slot in Lent next year, so we look forward to seeing how the play develops!