Embracing sustainable theatre practices at Bedales

By Joanne Greenwood, Theatre Manager and Production Designer

Here at Bedales we have always embraced the circular economy when it comes to productions. Reuse. Remake. Recycle. As with many theatres, we have a wardrobe which houses an extensive collection of clothing and accessories, and a prop store built up over the past 25 years.

With the global trend towards sustainably lockdown saw the creation of the Theatre Green Book. The Theatre Green Book gives theatre a path towards sustainability. It maps the journey towards a way of theatre-making that is low carbon and low waste, values people, and contributes to a more sustainable society.

The design brief we set ourselves for the Whole School Show 2021 was to honour 25 years of Bedales Olivier Theatre and to take part in the Theatre Green Book initiative in creating sustainable productions.

When designing any show, I consider what we have available to see what can be reused or adapted. Where possible, purchases are made on the basis that items have a future life and are considered an investment.

Many costumes in the wardrobe are used time and again, especially period costumes, but for a production to have an original and cohesive design there will always be adaptions and new costumes to be made. For Tales from Ovid (2021) we selected costumes from previous productions which hadn’t been used again and reinterpreted them in a new way to reflect the various tales.

The school pinafores from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (2007) formed the basis of the design for the Echo and Narcissus tale with collars made from remnants of fabric we had in stock. The Tereus and Philomela chorus wore jackets from Spring Awakening (2017), skirts from Les Misérables (2004) and boots from Me (2017). The male chorus jackets from Oedipus (2008) were used for the Midas tale with the hi top trainers from Around the World in 80 Days (2019).

The costumes in Jane Eyre (2006) were historically accurate in shape but the design concept was that all the costumes were various shades of red and therefore not realistic to how they would have been worn in the period. Worn by the Bacchic chorus in Bacchus and Pentheus with bare feet, ivy headdresses and doe eye make-up they paid tribute to the Sixth Form production of the Bacchae (1998).

The production also gave us the opportunity to use some memorable character costumes from the past:

  • Juno; Dress originally designed for Medea in Medea (2016)
  • Jupiter; Suit worn by The Prince in Sound of the Night Feather (2015)
  • Procne; Dress worn by Jocasta in Oedipus (2008), originally designed for Gertrude in Hamlet (2003)

Over 95% of the costumes from Tales from Ovid came from our wardrobe stock.

“Everyone in theatre starts their career by creatively stretching resource as far as possible. All theatre-makers are experts in sustainability. To the challenge of responding to the climate emergency, theatre is already bringing resourcefulness, dynamism and creativity.” – Theatre Green Book

Bedales Library’s most read books of 2021

By Matilda McMorrow, Librarian

The ‘beating heart of the school’ – its library, if you ask those in the know, including the 2014 all-part parliamentary report of the same name. So when I read our final borrowing figures for 2021, I felt like the stats threw some light on what kept the school’s heart beating last year.

Our second most loaned book of 2021 was Ms Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. From the thriving graphic novel section we created in the library in 2019, it’s the first in the Ms Marvel series. We have a growing community of graphic novel lovers at Bedales, which is no surprise – the medium is immediate, dynamic, and full of artistic experimentation, like most of our students on a good day. American-Pakistani heroine Kamala Khan (AKA Ms Marvel) has been lauded as an engaging and loveable protagonist, the series as a groundbreaking new take on the superhero genre. This book kicks you off with her origin story, and is witty, charming and thoughtful. As Kamala’s dad quotes from the Quran, “Whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind… And whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.” We all needed some superpowers and a grounded friend in 2021, and Ms Marvel provided. Fingers crossed she’ll keep it up in 2022, as a TV version is being made for Disney+.

Now, number 1, the most loaned book. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a modern classic. If you didn’t know, it’s a novel about a 15-year-old boy who sees the world in an extraordinary way, and who falls under suspicion for killing his neighbour’s dog. It’s by turns funny, painful and revealing, and is also one of the most banned and challenged books on the American Library Association’s list. I’m sure some of these loans were following the smash-hit stage adaptation at the National Theatre, and some might after teacher recommendation, especially for Block 3’s ‘coming of age’ English topic. For lots of reasons, it’s a book we reached for in 2021. As the author Mark Haddon said, “It’s about flawed people dealing with conflict, like nearly all novels.” 

Of course, a library is more than the sum of its borrowed books. Some people spend months reading a library book without ever borrowing it, which will go unlogged. And then there’s our huge online library of resources I haven’t had space to talk about here. A library is also the curiosity quests, the conversations, the recommendations, burning questions, being steered in the right direction, all kinds of things we don’t have stats on. But we do have stats for what words and phrases were searched for most on the library catalogue, which give some clues. One of the most popular searches was ‘shelf help’, library code for books on mental health. No prizes for guessing that would be a big hitter. Yes, it can be concerning to think about all the students and staff who have been struggling with poor mental health. But I find it reassuring to know there’s somewhere they can be empowered to look for help on their own terms, and to find good quality resources, chosen, managed and navigable. This is what libraries are about. Power to the patrons!

Boys’ First XI Hockey v Kings’ School, Winchester

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday the first XI travelled to their traditional season opener against Kings’ School, Winchester. Typically, the opposition were well organised and capable on the ball. It was perhaps not surprising then that Kings made the majority of the early attacking play and, despite some impressive defending from Sol Arbib and Joe Cullen, found themselves 2-0 up inside 15 minutes. However, the new look Bedales side began to settle into a rhythm and became more precise moving forward, driven by the influential Zach Stewart and Sam Gibbon.
Bedales created a number of decent chances but unfortunately failed to convert. However, on the stroke of half-time, a moment of individual brilliance and a clinical finish from Jac Wheeler, deservedly pulled Bedales back in to the game.
Despite a well presented half-time talk from captain Josh Baty, the Bedales side weren’t able to match the same intensity levels as the first half and began to lose shape, producing a number of turnovers which were clinically finished by Kings, who came away deserved winners. Plenty of promise from the Bedales side and a clear target of maintaining intensity and structural discipline levels.

Block 3 English students’ creativity and flair

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English

The English department office has recently been awash with truly stunning pieces of work from our Block 3 sets: hand-made, hand-sewn, whimsically decorated with string, ribbon and raffia, the poetry anthologies we asked the students to make over Christmas have been a real antidote to the winter greyness!

Some students chose to include their own poetry as well as analysis of poems they had studied over the term; others added paintings and sketches their work. We also had anthologies presented as meticulously detailed multi-media scrapbooks with layers of newsprint or card or recycled books. Each page in some of them showed a different layout, with fold-out sections or pockets in which a bonus poem nestled. One example even had fairy lights!

We’ve had such a variety of beautiful and imaginative work which shows truly exceptional sensitivity and creativity and we hope you enjoy see a few examples in the pictures below.

‘Fascinating’ Beyond Bedales Sustainability Careers event

By Jade Mark, 6.2

Last Friday the Professional Guidance department hosted a Beyond Bedales Sustainability careers talk, which involved five very influential people. 

James Bidwell, co-owner of Re_set and owner and Chair of Springwise, spoke to us about the sustainability changes he is helping businesses to make. Re_set is an organisation that helps businesses reset themselves for the future. James’ job is to help create strategies to help transition the companies from linear fossil fuels businesses into much more eco-friendly companies thinking about the circulatory use of all their products. 

Kemi Williams is the Development Director at the British High Commission in Tanzania, and she spoke to us about her role in the Department of International Development. She works in developing countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and currently Tanzania. She works on distributing the money that is given to their government from richer countries such as Britain to help these developing countries in a sustainable way. This means that she finds solutions to ensure that once the money is no longer being fed into their economy, the country is able to survive on its own.  

Emma Cusworth works for the Green Finance Institute, where she is responsible for driving the organisation’s strategic brand and communication activity. She follows her own philosophy through a very fascinating story which was concluded with the lesson: work in alignment, everyone moving in the same direction, working together to make actions faster and less tiresome, something which the world needs to realise today in order to resolve the huge dilemmas with lack of sustainability on our planet. She also emphasised the importance of finance in our world, and how drastically finance needs to change in order to make more sustainable ways of life more profitable than fossil fuels, as right now that is not the case. 

Roxy Rocks-Engleman has her hands in many different places, all associated with sustainable development. She is currently the Sustainability Manager for Cafédirect, a company empowering smallholder farmers. The company also set a charity to help smallholder growers in its network and has now helped an incredible amount of 1.3 million smallholders. Roxy emphasised all the incredible changes that are being made. Global supply chains have currently never been closer together, joining forces to make many opportunities that will surprise us and help us work towards something more positive. 

Scott Emerson was also part of the lecture, telling us about the changes that are occurring in fashion and how there are so many sustainable ways in which to delve into the fashion world. Having been thrown into the industry through horrible high consumerism and unsustainable fashion trends he decided to research into eco-friendly ways in which to change this, finding extremely fascinating solutions such as plant dying. He recently used this newfound talent of plant dying in London’s Fashion Week, spreading awareness to the public that new changes must be made to allow our world to attain more positive and sustainable products in the world’s second worst polluting industry.

Overall, the lecture was extremely fascinating and opened the students’ eyes to how sustainability is relevant in any job and career that one wishes to follow. 

Bedales launches Greenpower team

By Alex McNaughton, Head of Product Design

Thanks to the generosity of the Bedales Parents’ Association (BPA), this year the Design department has brought the Greenpower Competition – a significant and highly competitive design and engineering competition for secondary schools – to Bedales.
The Greenpower Education Trust is a UK based charity which gets young people enthusiastic about science and engineering by challenging them to design, build and race an electric car. Established in 1999, Greenpower now work with 300 schools, with around 500 teams participating in the competition’s classes: Formula Goblin (for children aged 9-11); Formula 24 (for children aged 11-16); and Formula 24+ (for young people aged 16-25). 
As a number of Bedales students from Block 3 to 6.2 have a keen interest, aptitude and sympathy for design, technology and engineering, many of whom have previously expressed a desire to take part in the competition, we saw an opportunity to launch a Greenpower team – initially in the Formula 24 category – for a group of students to work throughout the year to build and improve a vehicle to race at nationally organised events, which are hosted at top race circuits such as Goodwood, Dunsfold, Castle Combe and Rockingham.
Our Greenpower team is open to anyone in school who wishes to participate – students and staff alike. As well as offering a practical outlet for students who have either not chosen or been able to choose to study Design, it gives students who are going on to study an engineering discipline at university a fantastic way to bolster their UCAS application and CV. The project also promotes cross-curricular collaboration, with the Physics department contributing time and expertise.

To get the team up and running, the BPA kindly funded cost of a complete kit to build a functioning vehicle, bodywork and battery charger for the vehicle, specialist tools and safety clothing for drivers and pit crew. This year we are learning many valuable lessons by rebuilding and improving a second hand kit car. Our long-term plan is to build a car from scratch to compete annually, continually improve our vehicles to make them more efficient and highly competitive. 
We currently have a team of 12 eager and motivated students from every year group who meet each week to build and develop our car for the 2022 season. The first race is in April which we are on course to compete in. 
The Greenpower Competition is fundamentally about producing an energy efficient electric car. It is ideally placed to promote and practically demonstrate the increasingly important and prominent issues of sustainability and the vital role of technology within this field.

Girls’ U15 Hockey v Alton School

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Wednesday evening’s hockey fixture saw the girls’ U15 side host Alton School. With a number of enforced changes, this was a new look side and presented a good opportunity for some U14 players to play up an age group. It was therefore encouraging to see the Bedales side make the early attacking advances and play forward with confidence. After a sustained period of attacking play, Bedales forced a penalty corner which was neatly converted from the top of the circle by Iris Biles. 1-0 Bedales at half time.
As the game progressed it was clear to see that the new look Bedales side were becoming increasingly settled, working as a more cohesive unit – much of this being driven by the inside forward pairing of Tilly Wall and Clara Stannah. Having said this, Alton were not without threat going forward and on a number of occasions Bedales were thankful for the presence of Tilly Baty, who calmly dealt with any danger and regularly converted defence into attack, and from one of these she released the impressive Rosy Riley down the right hand side who accelerated around two or three Alton defenders before calmly passing to Clara to slot home.
The game was put beyond down inside the final seven or eight minutes as Annabel Peskett neatly finished at the back post to put Bedales 3-0 up. An excellent performance and a special mention must go to Ella Von Bodecker who performed incredibly well in an unfamiliar position, giving the Bedales a stable structure to work from.

Girls’ Second XI Hockey v Westgate

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday afternoon, the girls’ second XI hockey hosted Westgate School. This turned out to be a wonderfully close and competitive game that went down to the final two minutes.
The first half was well-balanced with both sides creating a number of chances but failing to convert: the central defensive trio of Greta Stillwell, Maya Cressman and Issy Robinson proving to be particularly influential for the Bedales side. Greta, proving to be the provider for the breakthrough as she won a tackle just outside her defensive circle and released a 50m pass to release Rebekah Leach who burst through the defence to calmly slot home against the talented Westgate goalkeeper. However, it was the away side that finished the half the strongest of the two sides, and had it not been for an excellent reaction save from goalkeeper Rosie Voyantzis, they would have drawn level. 1-0 Bedales at half-time.
Westgate continued where they had left off and made the majority of the forward running at the start of the second half and deservedly pulled back level with a finish from close range. This sparked new life in to the Bedales side, with Sage Bidwell and Izzy Land proving to be particularly threatening on the attack. This combined with the ever impressive ball carrying of Ava Sender Logan meant that Bedales had the majority of the attacking possession but struggled to convert chances or penalty corners until the final two minutes when a goal bound shot was partially stopped and then hit a foot on the line: penalty stroke. Up stepped Rebekah Leach to finish in the corner with pretty much the last play of the game. A really exciting and enjoyable game which was a credit to both sides.

Girls’ First XI Hockey v Tormead

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday, the first XI hosted an incredibly talented and strong Tormead side. The Bedales side were soon on the back foot, conceding two goals in quick succession. However, this seemed to spur them in to life and they adapted to the pace of the game, competing for the ball better and recognising the value of work off the ball. As has been a constant this season, Mathilda Douglas was relentless in her work rate up front and never allowed the Tormead defence to fully settle, but despite this work-rate and the occasional break forward from Rosy Riley, the Bedales side were having to do most of the work in their own half.
The second half saw another step up in performance with Alisia Leach becoming increasingly influential, ably supported by the ever improving Sammy Smith and the creation of a few more ‘half-chances’. But with an abundance of talent in the Tormead side there was never a moment to rest and Captain Esther Stewart was exemplary at the back – tough tackling, timely interceptions and a number of good outlets. Despite this and a never ending determination from all the Bedales players it was Tormead who, deservedly, took home the victory. The first XI will go in to their final game of the season next week with a focus on retaining possession and finishing an already excellent season on a high.

Girls’ First XI in the South Central Regional Hockey Tournament

By Esther Stewart, 6.2 and Girls’ First XI Captain

Last Wednesday the girls’ first XI had an early 7am meet to travel to Abingdon for the South Central Regional Hockey Tournament.

With one sub, new short corner tactics and a star addition to the team, we warmed up for our first game against Tudor Hall. We dominated most of the play but found ourselves two nil down at half time. However, a positive half-time team talk and a real focus for the second half we bounced back well. Sammy Smith providing the first moment of inspiration as inside forward carrying the ball into the D and winning a short corner, which followed an exceptional short corner drag flick from Alisia Leach followed by a deflection by Mathilda Douglas, put us back in the game. The opposition managed to get past the halfway line on a few occasions but being 2-1 down we stayed strong and energy levels were high. We finished the game with an exceptional team goal from Rosy Riley. Final score: 2-2.
Our second match against St Mary’s Ascot brought out our competitive side with some short corner battles. This was a tough game, with both sides evenly matched but thanks to our halves, Sasha Arney, Rebekah Leach and Gala Pearson, keeping the pace up and quick turn arounds we stayed strong and ranked up the intensity. St Mary’s managed to get six shorts in a row but the strong defence of Shanklin-Mackillop Hall, Esther Stewart and great saves from Mathilda Gellatly kept the opposition from scoring. The second half saw us fight back, winning multiple shorts but the whistle blew leaving another close draw of 0-0. Nevertheless, we were through to the semi-finals!
In the semi-final, Oxford High gave us a good run for our money, scoring a goal off a short. However, with strong forwards, we stayed positive and Alisia Leach’s famous drag flick secured us a goal in the first half. A few goal attempts – including Leela Walton’s powerful strike in the second half – kept emotions running high. Unfortunately, Oxford High just managed to get their second goal, sending them to the final, but we kept our spirits up and had no regrets, knowing we had played the better than ever.  
Congratulations to everyone for being part of the only Bedales team in history to make it to the regional semi-finals!