By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama
Recently I overheard some students giving a guided tour explaining, in student terms, the way our school works – how first name terms creates mutual respect, and performing in the theatre, where professional companies also perform, means they feel almost professional. To me, that summarises exactly what the Sixth Form Show is all about and why we employ external directors to create a company for the students, giving them a taste of the time frames and high expectations of the professional world.
Old Bedalian Evangeline Cullingworth was the ideal choice for this year’s Sixth Form Show. She was so excited to work with and direct our students once again, and having read her choice of play over the holidays – Image of an Unknown Young Woman by Elinor Cook – we were incredibly excited to see how she would realise it. Her professionalism and directorial skillset made this such an enriching opportunity for the students, and her personality and the experience she has of teaching and delivering workshops at Bedales meant she nurtured individuals and the cast flourished under her.
Personally, I loved coming to see the play as an audience member, having not been part of the auditions or rehearsals, and seeing the spectacular end result whilst also appreciating the journey the students had been on and how much they had developed over the course of the rehearsals. The staging was original and the yellow dresses and accessories heightened the relevance of images and the power of social media in politics. The contextless plot made us all draw comparisons in our own minds and wonder how influenced we are or how much we actually know about causes we support and say we believe in. The chorus cleverly involved us and judged us as an audience and the characterisation was both truthful and shocking at points.
Students involved in the production reflect on their experience below:
Jessica Asamoa, 6.2 Drama Scholar: “It was a wonderful experience to work with Evangeline and my fellow sixth form students. The play was one that really made us all think and reflect on current political movements.”
Rowena le Poer Trench, 6.1 Drama Scholar: “I found the experience of working with Evangeline so interesting, as she really helped me personally develop my understanding of characterisation through thorough techniques of breaking down my scenes. In this way, the rehearsals for the play were like mini workshops each week where I learnt so much that I can use in future projects.”
Cerys Jones, 6.1 Drama Scholar: “The Sixth Form Show was a great experience for any student, be those whom acted in it, assisted backstage or front of house or even those watching. The opportunity to learn new skills and develop, not just as a performer, but also as a person was abundant. A professional and safe, creative working environment was nurtured, helping the cast bond, and allowing for effective character and plot development in rehearsals. The production had the feel of a professional company, with collaboration heartedly encouraged, cultured by the amazing Evangeline, whose personal Bedales experiences combined with her wealth of theatre knowledge made her the ideal director. I’m very glad to have taken part in the show, making new friends, learning new skills and producing a fantastic play.”
Stella Miller, 6.1 Drama Scholar: “I was grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with OB Evangeline Cullingworth for the Sixth Form Show. A small and intimate group of 11 of us and a brilliant crew worked closely for just over a month to pull together our adaptation of Image of an Unknown Young Woman by Elinor Cook. It was a riveting and insightful experience, and one I shall never forget. From the costumes to the blocking, everything was systematically thought through and discussed, with each and every cast member having an input. It was particularly fun to compose a series of teaser images and posters to display around the school. The whole experience felt so professional, as though it were a West End piece of academic theatre; it was worth all the ‘all in’ weekends! A huge thank you to Evangeline and Joanne for orchestrating a show that was enjoyed by both the audience and the performers and really captured and projected the true essence of the arts at Bedales.”