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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‘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.

Milk Presents’ drama workshops at Bedales

By Meg Allin, 6.2, Drama don

Last week we had a visiting theatre company, Milk Presents, perform their work BULLISH and also lead workshops with some of the drama classes.

We were joined by Jo Tyabji, the production’s artistic director, who came in and worked with us on Milk Present’s style and creation process.

Jo started by asking us our pronouns – he/she/they – and then asked us to say something we had done that made us proud that day, which helped set an initial basis and mood for the lesson.

We got up on our feet and did some quick fire clap exercises. We were asked a few questions about gender, like “are biological sex and gender the same thing?” to help create diversity in the room. Everyone was respectful of each other’s opinions and Jo pointed out that it’s okay to have differing opinions because it creates conflict in a piece. This is a factor that I think can get forgotten about in rehearsals.

We listened to heavy metal and wrote down all the things that made us angry. This gave a big release to the group and helped us relax and wipe away our stressful feelings.

We then used an Alecky Blythe exercise where one person will listen to a podcast and repeat what is being said, while everyone else surrounded them doing different things such as press ups when talking about diets. This managed to create a little piece for us which was incredibly interesting.

Having Milk Presents come into our Drama class gave us new perspectives about devising theatrical work as well as gender fluidity.