The Trench – perspectives

By Meg Allin, 6.2, Drama Don and The Trench Assistant Director

We have spent the last three months working on The Trench for only three hours a week. Working with Head of Drama Hayley Ager (who directed the production) and the rest of the cast has been a pleasure. It has been understandably difficult at times, but we have enjoyed and overcome the challenges we have faced.

As Assistant Director, I have worked in casting and rehearsals while Hayley has tirelessly worked on stage design with Joanne, organisation, all the admin and the nitty gritty that goes with Theatre Production. We are very proud of what our cast has achieved; the physicality and vocal work of the piece is challenging and we pushed them all very hard to get it right.

There has been energy in every rehearsal and the piece has come together so beautifully because of that. The words of Oliver Lansley have been brought to life by the ensemble of 30 people, with Samuel Vernor-Miles as our ‘diamond in the rough’, Bert.

By Hayley Ager, Head of Drama and The Trench Director

We were approached by Petersfield council about what we as a community could do to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One. It was a wonderful opportunity to choose something suitably different to direct for this year’s Whole School Show and a challenge to pick from the wealth of war based literature as a starting point.

I have always been drawn to Oliver Lansley’s creative writing style and his physical theatre creations for his company, Les Enfants Terrible. The Trench is no different – an epic poem, written to be performed by five actors with contemporary music and puppetry. This gave me the perfect stimulus to create our own Bedalian version of this story and Oliver generously gave me express permission to change what I wanted within his words!

Our version includes three choruses to deliver the tale, so the lives of those at home are presented alongside the soldiers fighting in the trenches. An underworld chorus have also been created to tell the part of the story where Bert goes on his Grecian quest. The puppets are instead creations of the cast and the collaboration with Doug to add classical music seemed the perfect complementary aid to this timely tribute.

The end creation is something uniquely ours, with a stunning set, costumes that transport us into the trenches and performances that beautifully and appropriately show the weight of what these young students are performing – a homage to the tragedies suffered and the effect it had on all involved.

On a personal note, I would like to thank the cast for their diligence, sensitivity and passion throughout this project, Meg for her assistance in the direction, Doug for his musical contribution and Joanne, as always, for designing beyond what I could have imagined. The assistance from colleagues and students meant even more this year with my two extra members on board!

By Samuel Vernor-Miles, 6.2 and Bert in The Trench

I’ve had the honour over this past term of playing the role of Bert in this Whole School Production of The Trench. Behind the scenes, us members of the cast have worked ourselves harder and harder each week, but have also grown closer and stronger as a result of it, just in time to deliver this Christmas performance.

Personally, from having worked with every group in the cast (from the soldiers, to the families left at home, to the demons in the underworld), I know that every single one of us has put so much effort to bring the world of The Trench to life.

It’s been a fun experience and I’ve been very lucky to work on another fantastic school production. It feels very sad to be my last one, but I wish the cast of next year’s show the best of luck knowing it will be just as brilliant and I know they will have just as much fun as I have had working on this show.

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Cecilia Concert raises £1.5k for John Badley Foundation

By Giacomo Pozzuto, Music Teacher

As the audience enjoyed a final encore of Goodnight Sweetheart from the particularly fine Chamber Choir last month, we had a chance to reflect on the successes of the school musicians this term.

A gargantuan effort was required by all of them to produce such a wealth of variety and sheer polish for this year’s concert, to honour the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia, and in aid of the John Badley Foundation. The music community at Bedales are thankful for their time, effort and expertise.

The evening’s entertainment began with Concert Band thumping, albeit with extreme sensitivity, through Dave Gorham’s wild-west-bareback-riding Compton Ridge Overture. It was a particularly strong performance from our brass and percussion, who in turn showed their own turn in smaller ensembles throughout the evening. The percussion ensemble took us to Hawaii via The Four Freshmen and Poinciana and brass ensemble transporting the audience to the candlelit halls of 16th century Bavaria.

Chamber music has proved a particular highlight of this term’s work and our cello ensemble with Will Lithgow at the helm sailed expertly through a transcription of the first movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 and, more cerebrally, A-Ha’s Take on Me arranged expertly by the man himself. “It seemed a good idea at the time,” he told the audience about the piece, which was performed complete with synth drum patches for that ’80s airbrushed feel!

The School Orchestra gave the audience a consummate rendition of Vaughan Williams’s pastoral idyl Linden Lea, highlighting a particularly homogenous and sensitive string section, then stirringly romped through Mendelssohn’s Marsch der Priester from Athalie.

Our massed choirs have been working particularly well in refining their quality and production of sound. Chamber Choir provided real polish to the evening accuracy and complete poise in delivery of three difficult pieces. Choir’s stirring representation of Aston’s So they gave their bodies to the commonwealth – entirely apt for this year and this month – and Haydn’s Insanae et Vanae Curae brought together all ages, abilities and personified music’s true community spirit.

Barbershop offered a tantalising morsel into the work they have been doing this term to broaden their repertoire – we’ll hear more from them very soon I’m sure.

Finally, we heard from the Jazz Band, which is growing in strength and quality with excellent solos from both staff and students and an early stocking-filler from Aiden ‘Buble’ Hall.

The musicians are indebted to Doug, Will, Giacomo, the incredibly talented visiting music staff for their expert guidance as well as Neil Hornsby for running such a slick show and to Cathy Knowles for her warm, comforting matriarchal presence in the Music School (and her constant supply of cakes!)

The evening raised £1.5k for the John Badley Foundation, which offers financial support through bursaries, giving more young people a chance to benefit from the transformational opportunity a Bedales education can provide.

Bedales Events season draws to a close

By Camilla Bashaarat, Parent Engagement Lead

The current season of Bedales Events has come to an end with two exciting events among the last on the calendar.

The Drama Studio was the perfect venue for the production Brilliance by the talented Farnham Maltings Theatre Company last Wednesday,  28 November. The intimate setting, on what was a dark and stormy evening, helped transport the audience back in time to a damp, rural village hall devoid of electricity. Here we watched the unfolding of the thwarted hopes and dreams of the village inhabitants, young and old. It was a clever, poignant performance by the cast who kept us on tenterhooks, hoping for that illusive happy finale. There was song, laughter and I am sure I saw some tears being wiped away before the audience set off back in to the dark night.

The following evening, Bedales parents, Old Bedalians, students and friends were welcomed in to the magical world of the House of MinaLima for a private tour in aid of the John Badley Foundation (JBF). MinaLima in Soho’s Greek Street is home to a wonderful exhibition of graphic art from the Harry Potter film series as well as Fantastic Beasts and a series of illustrated classic fairy tale books for Harper Collins. Miraphora Mina is an Old Bedalian and this is the second year she has hosted such an event for Bedales. Guests enjoyed a small private tour followed by a talk by Miraphora and Eduardo Lima, the co-founder of MinaLima. Ticket sales and a raffle raised funds for the JBF which allows us to give more young people a chance to benefit from the transformational opportunity a Bedales education can provide.

The end of the season of Bedales Events signals the start of another, with tickets for Spring/summer 2019 events going on sale this Saturday, 8 December 2018. Highlights include A Fortunate Man, Natalie Williams Band and of course the Bedales Rock Show. Browse all events and book tickets here.

Old Bedalian artists in the Archive

By Ian Douglas, Librarian

JT_Ray_1925

Bedales Memorial Library, 1925, woodcut by Julian Trevelyan published in a short-lived Bedales school magazine, The Ray

Bedalians should take care not to miss Julian Trevelyan: The Artist and his World, at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester until 10 February 2019. As the Country Life reviewer notes, this fascinating exhibition celebrates “a unique artistic vision that was first fostered at Bedales”.

Last week, the Bedales Archive was delighted to welcome James Scott, co-curator of the exhibition. He came to learn more about the febrile artistic environment which prevailed at Bedales in the early part of the 20th century, and which produced a crop of highly influential artists, patrons and art administrators. We were able to show James early work by such luminaries as John Rothenstein, Stephen Bone and Julian Trevelyan himself, including his woodcut of the newly-completed Memorial Library, reproduced above.

In particular, James was interested to learn more about ‘Gigi’ Innes Meo, who taught at the school from 1923 to 1940, and who was credited by Julian Trevelyan as a major influence. Another celebrated OB artist, Diana Armfield, has shared her own memories of Gigi here.

As well as these relics of a wonderful artistic heritage, our guest was also impressed by the new Art and Design Building, and pleased to see that a first class artistic education is still on offer to today’s generation of Bedalians.


The Bedales Archive is always happy to receive enquiries about any aspect of the history of the school, or to accept donations of artefacts or documents illustrating that history. Please contact archive@bedales.org.uk. A small selection of archive material is freely available online at the  Bedales Schools Digital Archive.

New Views playwriting enrichment

By Oscar Clark, 6.1

During our Monday morning New Views enrichment session, we had the pleasure of working with playwright and poet Deborah Gearing.

Deborah led us in three main writing exercises. Firstly, we each described our journey from our bed to the session, each with a different focus on a particular sense, mine for example was smell. This really opened our eyes to the different sensory perspectives you can use to give a new scope on events, beyond the standard focus on sight.

The second exercise was very much a continuation of this one, with the addition of a new context, all of us writing a statement given to officials by a victim of the wildfires happening in California. This more concrete foundation for the writing proved challenging, it being difficult to get into the mind-set of the kind of character who has gone through this kind of event, but, with direction from Deborah, we formed some believable statements, each with a very interesting and different narrative perspective.

After this we experimented with the creation of characters, using a chosen photograph as the inspiration for a character then having to make up responses to questions Deborah asked us, thus turning a photograph into a three-dimensional human being with a backstory and ambitions. We repeated this exercise and were left with two characters of different backgrounds, eras and ages but both being fleshed-out tools for the concluding exercise. We tried to bring the two characters together in a scene, in doing so breaking the rules of time and space, and create some kind of conversational interaction between them.

It was an extremely beneficial session, giving the five of us firstly, an insight into challenges that face playwrights, but more importantly an insight into the techniques they use to overcome them. On behalf of myself and my classmates, I would like to thank Deborah for her help. We are all looking forward to our second session after Christmas.

 

Band Night in the Quad

By Imogen Mayhook-Walker, 6.2

Photos by Eva Du

Last Thursday it was Band Night in the Quad. After a week and a half of intense preparation, all the students involved, including myself, performed to a full house.

The highlights were undoubtedly Safi Kazim’s opening and closing numbers, and Natural Woman, performed by Millie Bolton. Raffy Henry not only delivered a haunting performance of Like Gold but he also was there for every rehearsal to ensure everyone sounded perfect in the studio.

There were also some outstanding new performers; Lara Rippinger’s performance of Unstoppable was one of the stand outs of the night and Miranda Woods-Ballard delivered a great performance of Figure It Out by Royal Blood.

Band Night is always one of the highlights in the Bedales Calendar and this year did not disappoint. Musicians including Kai Macrae, Monty Bland, Minna Hall and many more gave up so much of their time and performed with so many different people.

A huge thank you to Rod for all the work he put in to building the stage and running the tech throughout the show and a well done to everyone involved for a great night, but especially to Neil Hornsby whose tireless work and encouragement led to such an amazing show.

‘Enter the Dragons’ review

By Meg Allin, 6.2 and Drama Don

Enter the Dragons by A&E Comedy House was a hilariously truthful telling of a journey through menopause. This half mythical show was delightfully interrupted by fourth wall breaks saying things like “no just do the next scene!”

The show’s amazingly detailed costume and clever lighting added to the whimsical feel and showed the childishness in everyone- audience and actors. There were so many moments that had everyone clasping their hands over their mouths in laughter. This show was the funniest I’ve seen for a while!

It may seem for a certain demographic but it expanded across all audience members making even the young man next to me laugh in agreement. The show was not compulsory for Drama students but I think anyone who didn’t see it should (and do) massively regret it.

On the website the style of the piece is describe as “Think Mighty Boosh runs the Women’s Institute”, which I love and I think is completely accurate. It wasn’t all giggles however as of course the two women took a more serious tone to get a meaningful message of hope across. A quote that stuck with me was “to age is to live, to live is to age”.

It was performed with such intelligence that you could enjoy it with ease and still feel like you’re watching something worthwhile and meaningful. The light heartedness of the piece seem to only make it more meaningful as the audiences laughed along side the actors, pulling them in from start to finish.

If you don’t see this show (it is touring) then you are sourly missing out because if I were to recommend any show out of the ones Bedales has been lucky enough to have so far- it would be this one.