‘Around the World in 80 Days’ review

By Maddie Jefferies, 6.1

Around the World in 80 Days was a high spirited and energetic performance. The set was beautifully crafted, linking in the theme of time through clocks and cogs printed on the stage and on the screens that hung over the traverse. This type of stage gave a more inclusive feel and allowed the actors to interact and engage with the audience at breakneck speed.

The music was vibrant and contemporary, drawing the audience into Phileas Fogg’s journey. Dev Mannion as Fogg led the piece with confidence and poise. The Passepartouts (Elio Mazas and Blu Schneider-Marsan), a French butler whose part had been split into two, bounced off each other as a comic duo, entertaining us at every turn. In addition, the unamused detectives Fox and Fix (Freddie Pape and Otto Hall) kept us all laughing as they tried in vain to capture Fogg.

These characters were complimented by a huge cast who changed role in virtually every scene, bringing great energy and commitment to each moment. The actors moved seamlessly on stage, taking the audience with them on a journey around the world – from the busy streets of Italy to entrancing scenes in Hong Kong, before encountering the crazy circus of San Francisco. In addition, the fast paced narrative was interspersed with moments of uplifting dances. The choreography was outstanding, beautiful and moving, especially the romantic dance on board the Mongolia.

This was a high quality, feel good show – just what we all needed at the end of a busy term!

See and buy photos from Around the World in 80 Days here.

The Bedales Chair

By Hugo Burge, Old Bedalian 1985-1990

It was a very special experience to return to Bedales and celebrate the history of the Bedales chair – giving a Jaw to students and other guests, showing our film The Chairmaker and taking questions. After all, this is where my curiosity (and I confess a slight obsession) with rush seat chairs all began. Sitting in those chairs, in that majestic library and under the spell of the wonderful David Butcher (staff 1963-92), wood, design and the Arts and Crafts movement got under my skin and started an unexpected journey. So, what is the history of these chairs? And why have we made a film that we brought to show everyone in the Lupton Hall? What does the chair symbolise when thinking about broader questions of design, longevity and sustainability?

The history of the Bedales chair is an under-told story but sits at the heart of the beautiful Bedales Memorial Library, arguably the ethos of the school and – more broadly – of the Arts and Crafts movement. Designed by Ernest Gimson, the visionary behind the extraordinary library and Lupton Hall that we have all come to love, the Bedales chair not only represents a long multi-generational tradition of making but also is a living tradition that has been under threat. Lawrence Neal has been making rush seat chairs for 50 years, learning from his father – who made them for 61 years, who learned from Edward Gardiner, who was directly apprenticed to Ernest Gimson. It is little known that you can look at many chairs in the library and see who made them by the stamp with their name on. Each chair has a story, a specific maker and embodies hundreds of years of tradition.

So, how did I get involved? Upon leaving university my first significant purchase of  furniture was six chairs from Lawrence Neal in 1994 – I simply felt that this was the most accessible reminder and embodiment of the library that I had come to love. More recently, when doing up a house in Scotland which was substantially re-modelled by the leading Scottish arts and crafts designer Sir Robert Lorimer (who has parallels to Gimson and Lutyens) my interest in rush seat chairs grew. This humble chair structure, perhaps the first mass-produced chair in Britain, was appropriated by the Arts and Crafts greats of the time – Ernest Gimson, Edwin Lutyens, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, William Morris, William Burgess, Charles Francis Annesley Voysey and more. So, as my curiosity and our collection grew, I became aware that newly purchased chairs kept having to go to Lawrence Neal to repair and restore. Was there no one else? After all, Lawrence had at least a six month waiting list. I later came to understand that Lawrence might be the last person in Britain making and repairing these chairs for a living, having raised a family on the back of it.

When visiting his history-layered workshop, with his father’s SAS cap nonchalantly hanging on the back of the door, covered in layers of dust, I was struck by the beauty of the place and felt compelled to want to capture it in some way. Then, understanding that this lineage was under threat because Lawrence needed to sell the workshop to retire, and wanting to capture his story and all the history – I agreed to make a film with Falcon Productions. The resulting film has tried to capture the beauty of the chair making, the history of the chairs, Lawrence’s story and the living tradition. At the school, we also unveiled a short additional clip, celebrating the Bedales chair, with Matthew Rice (1975-80) reflecting on its iconic status, whilst David Snowdon harks back to the time he learned to make them in the woods, speaking to its humble origins but noble enduring nature.

The film includes a provocation that suggests that in order to ensure ongoing  craftsmanship with such a long history, we need to make conscious decisions to enable its survival, from celebrating the people who make them to deciding which products to buy. The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction against the industrial revolution in a period of massive change and wealth creation. William Morris (who inspired Gimson) felt that we needed to celebrate the craftsman,nature and hand-crafted beauty of things that we bought. In many ways there was a tension at the heart of his message since, as a devout socialist, he really became a purveyor of luxury goods to the wealthy. Today, we are experiencing a powerful information and technology revolution, that again is creating a complementary ground swell of interest in locally made things that are sustainable, can endure and have a story. Some great questions came up from students during the Lupton Hall film screening, that asked about the importance of mass-produced machine-made products. How do we find balance in an age of global consumerism? How can we seek sustainability? Clearly individually hand-made things are not the only answer, but they form an important balance and perhaps can also have a lasting impact, in the same way that the Arts and Crafts movement impacted design and furniture making in the 21st century.

So, next time you are in the Library, do sit on a Bedales chair and become aware of its wonderful history, the broader story it is part of and the symbol it represents as a handcrafted creation that is both timeless and subject to considerable longevity (even when exposed to the rough and tumble of school life).

In a cheery footnote to the Bedales Chair story, with the help of the Heritage Craft Association, we have managed to secure two apprentices to learn Lawrence’s craft to ensure that it endures for generations to come. When the apprentices have come of age and Lawrence says that they can stand on their own two feet, the workshops – with all the tools dating back to Ernest Gimson’s time at Daneway, will be moving up to new workshops in the old stables at Marchmont House in the Scottish Borders, so the lineage starts a new chapter that we hope will continue to evolve, inspire and endure.

There is an opportunity to bid for a specially commissioned Library Chair in the John Badley Foundation fundraising auction. See here to browse the auction lots – with new items added.

Overview of Parents’ Day – 29 June

Bedales Parents Day - 30th June 2018 (Photographer Jack Offord)-6948.jpg

By Phil Tattersall-King, Deputy Head (Co-curricular) & Director of Bedales Events

With the launch of the JBF auction last week and the Hamper Ball set for Friday 28 June, Parents’ Day is now just days away.

This year we have a tie-up with Dunhurst who are also hosting their Parents’ Day on 29 June, so there will be a superabundance of activity throughout our beautiful South Downs site. Another first is our sale of student artwork, curated by Lucy Ogilvie-Grant. You can find it in the Dance Studio, aka the Old Gym, depending how far back your folk memory stretches!

As well as the Art and Design showcase, Music Concert in the Lupton Hall (booking required – tickets available here), pop music on the Orchard, this year’s Summer Production in the Theatre (booking required – tickets available here), and the Bedales jazz band with special guests in the Mem Pitch marquee, there will be the usual tennis and cricket matches, as well as pastoral events for 6.2 and 6.1 students in the boarding houses.

boxed puzzles

The Outdoor Work barnyard will be open, showcasing some of the new ODW projects and selling freshly baked bread and other homemade produce. There will also be an opportunity to stock up on some Bedales merchandise, including our highly coveted Emma Bridgewater mugs and dog bowls, and our new Wentworth jigsaw puzzles of the Memorial Library. The puzzles are available in two designs – with the featured photographs both taken by Block 4 student Leila Issa – and include unusual custom-made pieces, known as ‘whimsies’.

Parents’ Day programmes have been sent out to all parents but can also be found on the website, here.

New season of Bedales Events – on sale now

By Phil Tattersall-King, Deputy Head (Co-curricular) and Director of Bedales Events

With only three weeks left of the academic year, suddenly September doesn’t seem such a distant prospect… and with it comes a new season of Bedales Events, available to book from 8am on Saturday 15 June.

The season gets underway on 10 September with an incendiary double bill – HOTTER and The Privileged – where we question attitudes to the female orgasm and white privilege in Bedales’ open and honest way. Visiting poet Julia Copus will also go beyond the conventional on 17 September, when you can hear both her written works and a piece commissioned for radio. Old Bedalian Marika Hackman returns to Bedales on 20 September ahead of her impending UK-US tour, and there’s an the opportunity to get to know former nation’s favourite Michael Barrymore again on 26 September – this time through the eyes of Nick Cassenbaum’s childhood adoration and without the overblown vilification of his downfall. On 28 September, we welcome Squashbox Theatre to Bedales for family show Tales from the Trees, and on 4 October, Taking Flight Theatre explore accessibility and unfairly marginalised stories in Peeling.

Later in the season comes another double bill: Status and Signals. Seth Kriebel tells the ancient tale of Beowulf, Jo Berry and Dr Patrick Magee share what it is to forgive in the annual Global Awareness Lecture, and you can fill your belly with laughs in the run up to the Christmas holidays with comedian Matt Parker’s Humble Pi.

If all that culture isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s all the usual home grown productions by Bedales students. Find out more and book tickets to all events via the Bedales Events website.

Moving D-Day Memorial Service

By Mack Cowling, 6.1

On Wednesday 5 June, I attended the D-Day Memorial Service on Portsmouth Common with my two veteran grandfathers. It was an incredible experience for them, as they were able to receive merit and respect for the service they gave to the country.

One of my great grandfathers, Roy Purnell, was a troop who arrived on Juno Beach in Normandy on 6 June 1944. I also had John Castleton, my great grandfather on my other side, with me. John was part of the 76th Royal Air Force Bomber Command. He flew a Lancaster Bomber during the war until he was shot down and taken as a prisoner of war.

Due to the tremendous significance of the war in their lives, being able to reminisce and relate with stories being read by the multiple guest speakers – including the Prince of Wales, President of the United States and Her Majesty the Queen – was incredibly rewarding for them. The event itself was on for most of the day and featured music and dance, themed to the 1940s era to commemorate wartime culture.

I think the most special part of the day for everybody involved was the chance to meet and talk with the guest speakers. My great grandparents were spoken to and personally thanked for their service by Charles, Prince of Wales, and the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Overall it was an incredible experience and one which I will truly not forget.

Student shortlisted for National Theatre New Views Playwriting Competition

aidan-hall

By Aidan Hall, 6.1

From the beginning of the school year until the first day of the summer term, some sixth formers had been writing their own plays to submit to the National Theatre’s New Views Playwriting Competition.

Led by David Anson and Hayley Ager, we honed our skills in dialogue, character development and expressing messages that were personal to us through our writing. We would meet every Monday for an hour and a half, sometimes reading what our peers had written, sometimes doing exercises that gave us a better perspective on how to craft personality and motivation in our characters. Other times, we would spend writing.

At the end of the Easter holidays and after a week-long recluse into the hills of Shropshire with some other Bedalians for the Arvon creative writing course, I submitted my play. It got shortlisted!

This now means that a rehearsed reading of it is going to be performed at the National Theatre later this term and I am ridiculously excited to see something I created manifested into (some form of) reality. It’s confirmation that, as artists, our practiced creation bears fruit. I believe that, so often, creators fall into the fallacy of thinking “I don’t want to create anything right now, I’ll save my efforts for when I’m better in the future”. But this isn’t how it works, you can’t just think of practice as a creative middleman that you can eliminate. Exercising our creative muscle and producing something, no matter how proud of it we might be, is the only way to develop as an artist. If you really want to go somewhere with your art, and to a wider extent anything, you gotta do. Period.

My play, The Closest Thing to Silence, is a combination of dialogue and poetry that explores the attempts at escape from modern metropolitan life, not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally. These are lives we could potentially find ourselves living. It follows two strangers as they go through an interview process to leave the city in which they reside, both connected by their longing to see the stars again, away from the neon covered sky of the concrete jungle.

Lupton Hall memories

Lupton Hall mid-1920s (map chest 2)

By Alison Mallett (née Melville), Old Bedalian (1939-46)

My first memory of the Lupton Hall goes back to the thirties and my single-figure age, just at Dunhurst. I had heard that a play was to be performed there and decided to see it. I was told that I couldn’t as it was “unsuitable for young children”. A challenge there! I slipped in with the audience and slid under one of the pews near the front. Somebody saw me and hauled me out ignominiously. Some years later, once I had moved up to Bedales, I suffered many bum-numbing Jaws, admirable though the principle. How many activities come to mind: speech competitions, Merry Evenings, Gilbert and Sullivan, Shakespeare when not outdoors. Details like Paul Williamson (1940-46) clasping his hands over his chest, declaring, “I never apologise!” Bob Collet’s (1919-22, staff 1929-46) amazing hands playing Liszt; or the melting tones of Gervase de Peyer (1939-43) and Mozart.

The green rooms below were often used as practice rooms where in anonymous privacy one could loudly wail out one’s sol with Kol Nidrei and the like.

My most striking adventure was musical. Two flautist friends, Geoffrey Spencer (1939-48) and Jan Fabricius (1942-46), got together a small band of volunteers to play a Brandenburg Concerto. Our first rehearsal was nearly terminal. With no conductor, we were all at sixes and sevens. So one after another, a player stood up and waved hands and arms around but, astonishingly, completely out of time. Finally Jan said: “Ali, you’ll have to do it”. Unconfident, I pulled a twig from Miss Hobbs’ (staff 1920-47) beautiful flower arrangement, and waved it around. Amazingly it seemed to work. Rehearsals became fun. Our music master, Harry Platts (staff 1937-46), got to hear of our venture and lent me his baton and lots of advice. We were to perform with the whole school. “Start off with a bold upswing of the baton,” Harry advised.

The two soloists stood close below me. I swung the baton up with a bold upswing. The tip caught Geoff’s music and sent it flying over the orchestra to land on the resting big drum below the stage. Kerplonk! The next few bars were drowned in laughter.

We used to get many lovely musical performances, from staff, pupils and visiting professionals. The Griller Quartet were much loved. All four were drafted into the RAF and turned up one visit in their uniform blue. Late Beethoven, out of this world. Except that the cellist’s buttons rattled hideously against his audience. Between two movements he called out to the audience, “Can anyone lend me a pair of scissors?” Someone produced the scissors. The cellist then cut off all his buttons.

Now I trust future Bedalians will cherish lovely memories of the restored Lupton Hall.