Industry professionals inspire at Drama department’s Wednesday Workshops

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama

Throughout the Autumn term, the industry based drama Wednesday workshops have continued, a wonderful opportunity for students to meet and hear from experts in the field.

Actor and drama school audition coach Martha Dancy has continued to work with 6.2 students who are looking to further their study after Bedales to prepare for a career in drama. Her help and guidance has been wholly appreciated by myself and the students, especially this year when the audition process is more varied and virtual than before. 

Our ultimate Wednesday workshop was a real treat. The kindness of professionals in the field during these challenging COVID related times has astounded me. How gracious and giving they have been with their time and how willing they have been to share their expertise. Kate Winslet encompassed this and more. She approached me to ask what she could do to help the Drama department and subsequently gave her up her afternoon to inspire our students with her top tips.  These will stay with them, I am sure, for a lifetime, but what will also stay with them was her wonderfully open, honest and down to earth manner which I and they appreciated so much.

Read students’ accounts of the workshops below.

By Caitlin Layhe Nugent, 6.2

In our first week, Martha talked us through personal statements and how to tailor them to conservatoires. Her insight on the drama school application process is invaluable and we’ve been incredibly lucky that she was kind enough to set time aside to teach us about that process and how it differs from place to place and how best to meet those needs.

By August Janklow, 6.2

Our third session was focused on self tapes. Martha ran us through the proper techniques to use when filming such as: lighting, angle, and eye line. We were instructed to deliver our lines as if there was someone sat behind the camera, reason being that our faces had to be in full focus. This among other things helped us feel more comfortable approaching drama school applications this year.

By Gus McQuillin, 6.2

A Shakespearean monologue properly prepared, is a great way of impressing a drama school during their auditions. Following a few previous sessions with Martha, she had got to learn more about me and how I generally behave and act as a person. This then enabled her to suggest a piece from Romeo and Juliet that she thought would  be a good mix of familiarity but also challenging enough that it isn’t staid and obvious. We were happy with Romeo and Juliet as I know the play, the plot and the dynamics between the characters and their relationships. Martha gave me some fantastic tips to help me become more comfortable with the piece. One was to look up the definition of any words that I didn’t completely understand, allowing me to see how they make sense and then form a coherent speech. She also advised that I completely translate the piece into my vernacular thereby basically modernising the piece so that I could conceptualise how the words might have been said in their time.

By Kit Mayhook-Walker, 6.1

On 9 December, Bedales Drama students were treated to a Wednesday workshop with the Oscar-winning actor, Kate Winslet. During the two and an half hour workshop, Kate answered students’ questions in great detail about her early acting career, the steps she takes getting into character, her favourite performances and her thought-processes behind her performances. She also led a short, scripted scene from the play The White Bike, which was previously a BAC scripted piece. She asked the two actors on stage various questions ranging from when did the characters meet to what their driving ambitions are, as a way of getting behind a character and grounding them in realism. This was followed by an improvisation with a 6.2 drama student where the audience gave them all the information; their names, ages, jobs, the scenario the scene takes place in. Everyone in attendance found this workshop extremely helpful for their future dramatic projects and we hope to see more of Kate in the New Year.

Match report: 6.1 Girls v Boys Hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Last Thursday, the 6.1 girls played against the 6.1 boys in what has now become an annual fixture for this cohort, having originated in Block 3.

Having won the last three years, the boys approached the game with confidence, possibly neglecting some valuable preparation time and were caught on the hop as the girls came flying out the blocks. Goalkeeper Patrick Bell and the central defensive pairing of Bade George-Coker and Archie Tier were the saviours for the boys’ team. However, with relentless attacking pressure from the girls – in particular Alisia Leach, Sasha Arney and Mathilda Douglas – it was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken, with Alisia flicking in a low, powerful shot from a short corner to the delight of a partisan crowd.

An inspirational half-time team talk from the managerial team of Joseph Thanki and Harry Hornsby saw the boys’ team start the second half with renewed vigour. Despite this, and the skilful, quick attacking exploits of Paddy Arrowsmith, Joe Withers and Jamie King, the girls remained resolute, with Esther Stewart and Shanklin Mackillop-Hall, as ever, providing a calming influence at the back. As the boys’ fitness levels began to drop the girls’ side came into the game more and more. Increasing influence from Gala Pearson and Fleur Donovan ensured the girls side retained more attacking possession. Despite one last breakaway attempt from the influential Cosmo Hurwitz, the girls’ team held their nerve to emerge victorious.

Once again a really enjoyable game. Bring on the final game in 6.2…!

Professional Guidance at Bedales – Autumn update

By Cheryl Osborne, Teacher of Biology and Careers Advisor

This term has been a busy one for the Professional Guidance department. Firstly, students from Blocks 3 to 6.1 have signed up to the online Unifrog platform. Unifog describes itself as “a one-stop-shop where students can easily explore their interests, then find and successfully apply for their next best step after school”. Students in these year groups are receiving support from their tutors to access the platform and complete tasks, such as recording their activities and hobbies, during Tutor Time. As well as this, Block 4 receive half a term of careers sessions with me during Badley Time, during which they have used Unifrog to investigate their wider interests and personality traits, search careers that match their strengths, start recording their employability skills/competencies, look at CVs and learn about apprenticeships and how to find one.

At the beginning of term, Block 5 completed their MyFutureCareers assessments and interviews to aid them with their A Level choices. I followed up on this later in the term, offering students support sessions on Wednesday afternoons. Students in 6.1 have been shown how to use Unifrog to search for degree courses, alongside advice about what they need to be doing over the coming year to prepare themselves for life after Bedales.

Many 6.2 students have been completing university applications, working closely with both their students and Head of Professional Guidance Vikki Alderson-Smart. Students have already started receiving offers and a number have had online interviews for courses that require them. Sarah Oakley has been supporting overseas applicatons and the Art, Design, Music and Drama departments have been working hard helping students with conservatoire and foundation applications.

Work with each year group will continue next term. Vikki will start interviewing all 6.1 students to find out what their post-Bedales thoughts are. These discussions will be on-going with their tutors.

Whilst we would hope that 6.1s will be able to visit universities next year, we will also be advertising virtual events. Two such events are the UK University & Apprenticeship Search Virtual Fair on 27 January, featuring a vast array of exhibitors and ten vital webinars (students and parents can find out more and sign up here) and a Meet the Russell Group virtual event on 10 February. This event will feature all 24 universities and essential webinars for students considering applications to these institutions (students and parents can find out more and sign up here).

We wish you all a restful Christmas.

“Nuanced and detailed” take on Nick Payne’s ‘Constellations’

This week, Block 5 and 6.2 students took part in a four-night run of this year’s Autumn production, ‘Constellations’ by Nick Payne. Due to ongoing restrictions, two duplicate casts of eight performed alongside dancers in the Theatre, with two of the performances livestreamed for parents at home.

By Isobel de Gier, 6.1

Watching Block 5 and 6.2’s nuanced and detailed approach to Nick Payne’s Constellations – aided by Hayley Cole’s directorial work – was a joy. Between the many interpretations of protagonists Marianne and Roland, played by the electric Ella Peattie and captivating Nay Murphy, there were multiple humorous moments. The play then quickly juxtaposed those comical elements with tender and heart-breaking scenes of the characters’ future selves.

The play masterfully toyed with light and shade, enrapturing its audience. The experience was immersive and the audience laughed, cried and became enraged alongside the characters – with every smile, laugh, or frown of the many versions of Marianne and Roland, the audience was enveloped deeper. This is not only a testament to the subtle and refined acting style, but the beautiful LED lit set, the bewitching dancing by Lucy Albuquerque and Mathilda Douglas and masterful directing. If you did not see the many parallel universes of Marianne and Roland, you really did miss out. 

By Aria Taheri-Murphy, 6.1

On Tuesday, the second cast of Constellations performed an amazing representation of raw love, shown through the perspective of many versions of Marianne and Roland. The audience watched the variety of ways their love unfolded in the different scenarios, however as the play reached its conclusion all the main plotlines merged into one story.

Not only were the actors amazing, but the set was incredible, set on different levels with small light-up hexagons beneath each level. These related to the hexagon projections across the stage. Projections of drawings and maths equations were used throughout the performance and as the audience began to understand the characters the hexagons became very significant. 

The dancing added an exciting new element, this too was socially distanced, but this did not affect the quality of their work. Two A Level Dance students performed throughout the play, expressing the characters’ frustration, love, grief, and pain. The actors clearly showed these emotions, however there were times where the dance could truly show the raw feelings the characters were trying to hide. Overall, the acting, directing, staging and choreography was amazing and created a hard-hitting love story which didn’t need to be shown physically, much like the National Theatre socially distanced performance of Lungs.

A break from tradition for Autumn production

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama

Our Autumn Production this year is Constellations by Nick Payne, which will be performed on four consecutive nights from 7-10 December, with two performances livestreamed for parents at home. A two hander about a couple, their relationship, quantum physics and most importantly love. It follows their journey and the multiple universe theory which means we see the various outcomes of each stage in their relationship. Not exactly your traditional Christmas production, but we never produce traditional productions here.

In previous years our Autumn Production has involved students from the whole school, across all year groups, with a cast and crew totalling more than 50. We have devised our own work, chosen cutting edge musical theatre, Greek tragedy, contemporary texts and adapted work to honour the First World War. But this year, obviously, things are different. The safety of our students and staff is paramount but at the same time we wanted to celebrate the fact we are open again as a school, a creative school, and able to perform again in the theatre. Whilst our numbers are restricted, both on stage and in the auditorium, and social distancing rules must be applied, I didn’t want it to restrict our innovative approach, nor the students’ theatrical experience.

Having watched Lungs at the Old Vic during lockdown, I was inspired by the chemistry Matt Smith and Clare Foy showed on stage and the fact that the chemistry existed despite the metre plus distance between them. This led me to look at similar plays and that’s where I landed at Constellations, a play I have loved for some time but not found the right platform for. However, I needed it to be more inclusive and to give more opportunities to more students. Focusing on the original intention of the play, our interpretation shows the possibilities that exist to anyone anywhere and scenes are explored with different genders and languages as well as sign language. We see the multiple outcomes of this relationship which could have affected any two people, anywhere in the world. Two duplicate casts of eight perform the scenes and transition with dancers who explore the themes of bee keeping, endless love, quantum physics, past, present and future. 

So, whilst the COVID Christmas term has been challenging, it has by no means hampered out creativity and we look forward to sharing our work; in person with the student and staff body and virtually (via live streaming) to parents, next week.   

Match report: First XI v ‘All-Stars’ girls’ hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday, the much anticipated hockey fixture between the first XI and ‘all-stars’ took place. The all-stars squad was made up of a number of the top performers across Blocks 3, 4 and 5, and was assembled to deliberately challenge a talented and hard-working first team.

As anticipated, the first team came out firing on all cylinders and looking to take advantage of the new look opposition, who were trying to find their feet. However, the all-stars managed to survive the initial onslaught, much owed to England trialist goalkeeper Josh Baty, who had kindly stepped in to fill that position to ramp the game up another notch. Despite the bulk of the attacking possession falling to the first team it was the all-stars who took the lead, through a fine individual goal from Kamaya Nelson-Clayton.

As the game progressed, Rebekah Leach began to have more and more influence for the all-stars, winning numerous tackles, interceptions and displaying an excellent range of passing. The final 10 minutes of the half saw a thoroughly entertaining battle between Rebekah and her equally impressive sister Alisia, who was driving the first team forward. However, no more goals were added and the first team went in 1-0 down.

The second half saw a further ramp up in intensity from the first team, driven by the tireless Mathilda Douglas, who was constant threat. But 15 minutes in and the all-stars defence had stood firm: with Block 3 Eliza Hayward in outstanding form. The all-stars team were now reduced to breakaways and counter-attacks but with the skilful Clara Stannah and pacey Rosy Riley they were always a threat.

However, a mature and calm approach from Esther Stewart and Shanklin Mackillop-Hall ensured nothing came from these breakaways and this calmness began to spread through the first team, firstly,with Gala Pearson cooly converting the equalizer after a melee in the D and then finally with Mathilda Douglas drilling home a deserved goal for her and a deserved winner for the first team. The final result was 2-1 in a competitive and enjoyable fixture. I am sure there will be calls for a replay (and hopefully so!)

Writing in nature

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English

This half term Block 3 have been using their English composition lessons to read and write poetry about nature and the seasons. Naturally, John Keats’ To Autumn proved an inspiration for many with phrases that everyone half knows, even if only from the Mr Kipling advert! We’ve also read Seamus Heaney’s Personal Helicon,in which he muses on the way that nature creates and reflects artistic inspiration and helps us to know ourselves better.

Our local favourite is Edward Thomas, who many Block 3 students know from visits to The Poet’s Stone – a hop, skip, and very steep trek up Shoulder of Mutton Hill. The poems But these things also and The penny whistle evoke the landscape around Bedales and students gained a clearer insight into the subtlety of nature writing from the detailed imagery Thomas uses.

I’ve been really impressed with the poems that the Block 3 students wrote in response. You can read a selection below:

Autumn is the soft dying days when the light fades into mysterious night;
Autumn is the cold seeping into your cheeks making them go a rosy pink;
Autumn is the sharpness of the cold in your lungs and the chilly nip of the crisp air;
Autumn is the cosy afternoons by the fire and the musty November smell;
Autumn is the silence in the sky;
Autumn is the path from summer and the bridge to winter.

Posy

The autumn came that year, too fast, too soon.
The rolling winds whipped in from the west.
And all that was in light, shadow overtook.
The late summer fruits lay rotting in the fields,
As if summer itself had forgotten them.
More harvests failed with every looming day,
As the thunderclouds crowded low, drenching the ground.

Where there should have been leaves, golden and red,
There was the black rot of decay.
Where the autumn grass once would have lain,
Bear rock, earth and mud had overtaken.

— Jake

Standing tall, silent, sturdy,
They loom above you,
The pines are straight and thin,
They have stood for tens, hundreds of years.

Needles drop, crunch underfoot and rot,
Branches fall only to be replaced many years later,
Squirrels hop from tree to tree, escaping from some unknown.

— Xander

Winter is coming
Winter is coming thick and fast
The earth is getting hard and frosty
The sun has hidden behind a cloud
And you may be thinking what is happening
And I tell you Winter is coming
It doesn’t matter what you think
It doesn’t matter what you do
Winter is always coming.
When the leave stand strong
Then Winter is just around the bend.
When the hedgehogs are curled up in their dens
And the rivers are freezing up
The wind blows hard on my face
And I know Winter is coming.

— Jack

The trees shiver naked in the blowing wind,
The cool rush of a fresh breeze,
Leaves scattered across the floor,
With little wellies splashing

The winter bounds stick to the paths
With the mud rushing on
Nowhere is safe from the weather
Not even the warmth.

— Mo

Weekend Christmas crafts

By David Anson, Head of English
Photos by Andy Cheese, Teacher of Art

Last weekend, Greg Clarke and I ran a weekend activity for boarders making decorative Christmas crackers. Students have been participating in lots of Christmas craft activities at school recently – Greg worked with the same group of students pictured here before long leave to make decorative boxes for Christmas presents – and in many of the activities, students have been working to support the Winter Wonderland event that Katie McBride has planned for the last week of term. Last weekend, we made lino cuts with various Christmas designs and every member of the group printed a sheet of wrapping paper, with some making Christmas cards as well. 

Senior Maths Challenge success

By James Welham, Head of Mathematics

Well done to all the students to took part in the UKMT Senior Maths Challenge earlier this term. Particular congratulations to Annabelle Snell for achieving the top score in the school, Gemini Wang for the top score in 6.2 and Chubbs Bailey for the top score in Block 5. 

This year’s certificates go to:

Silver

Orlando Closs (6.2)
Arthur Lingham (6.2)
Gemini Wang (6.2)
Annabelle Snell (6.1)
Raef Macnaughten (6.1)

Gold

Charlie Abbott (6.2)
Sam Wheeler (6.2)
Zakhar Gabriadze (6.1)
Rhiannon Griffiths (6.1)
Isabella McGrath (6.1)

Many congratulations!

Pastoral update: The effects of cyberbullying and a new app to watch out for

By Rick Cross, Deputy Head (Pastoral)

Schools, parents and students have long known about the debilitating effects of cyberbullying, and with numerous restrictions on our freedoms and movements over recent months, the need to be kind to each other online seems even more pertinent.

Students at Bedales, as with young people across the country, have access to a huge range of apps and services, but with this freedom comes responsibility. Parents play a vital role in this process too and in my experience want to help. To that end I would like to highlight Internet Matters as a useful resource, which provides parents with guidance about a rapidly changing world online, and offers reviews of apps for parents.

One app worth being aware is Tellonym, where users can receive messages through the platform which are called ‘Tells’. Every Tell is sent and received to the recipient’s private inbox, which no one else can see. Then, only if a user decides to answer a Tell, the original Tell, and the answer becomes visible to other users. This app has been given a rating of 17+ on the Apple App Store, but we are aware it is being used by younger students at Bedales.

This anonymous app has gathered some concerning reviews and press coverage over recent years. I include it here as a way to open up a conversation with your children about what apps they may be using and how to behave responsibly whilst also staying safe and avoiding risky behaviour. Cyberbullying makes up part of the schools Anti-Bullying policy.

On Tuesday next week, Jen Moore, the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), will host a special session for students about the schools guiding principles and rationale behind the schools filtering system, discussing different sites and platforms students regularly ask for. We want to engage with the student body so they can enjoy the online world safely.