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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