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Shakespeare Festival at The Exchange

Posted: 2nd December 2019

On Monday 21 November, 26 girls in Year 6, 7 and 8, along with Mrs Marsh, Mrs Gillies and Miss Collett, left St Catherine’s at lunchtime and made their way excitedly to the The Exchange, Twickenham. Three months of hard work had built up to this day, and the adrenalin was pumping!

Back in September, we began our first collaboration with the Shakespeare Schools Festival. A series of auditions were held, and girls were cast in a thirty minute version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The girls took immediately to the humorous story of misunderstandings between lovers, mischievous Shakespeare Festival at The Exchange sprites and terrible actors, and worked hard in rehearsals to create distinct physical differences between the Athenians, the fairies, and the Mechanicals. We also took the directorial decision of adding a traditional Greek chorus to the play, whose sarcastic commentary and swift morphing into parts of the set really added to the comedy originally intended by Shakespeare. It was a tight ensemble piece; as soon as each scene was finished, the actors melted back and became the magical forest surrounding the rest of the story.

Over the next couple of months, the girls worked incredibly hard, often balancing rehearsals with netball matches and dance classes whilst they learnt lines and were incredibly creative with their interpretations of the text. The Shakespeare Schools Festival allows schools to play with the text, which led to some brilliantly witty updates of the original jokes. They were also fortunate enough to attend a specialised workshop at the theatre with professional actors who gave them some insight into performing at a real working theatre.

Finally, the day arrived. When we arrived at The Exchange, we got into costume straight away and began our technical rehearsal, playing with different lighting effects. After this, we performed our dress rehearsal, followed by a quick break for dinner, and then it was showtime! The girls waited in the dressing room until it was time to go on, and then were utterly fabulous in their performance. It was the best rendition of the show the cast had ever done, and we were so proud of them!

After supporting the other schools performing the same night, it was time to get our comments. The organisers loved our energy, our modern twist and our framing with the chorus. It was a wonderful experience, and the girls did themselves very proud. It was great to see people so engaged with Shakespeare’s stories and language, and for the girls to experience the sheer joy of performing live. Well done, girls – your talent, enthusiasm and vivacity shone like the moon!

Miss S Collett

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