A Necessary Woman – ‘No Vote, no Census’

Big Slider A necessary woman Poster image front

By Ollie van Hoeken, Bedales student

After teaching us about the context of the characters and events in the play in Jaw, Deborah Clair and Philippa Urquhart headed over to the theatre to prepare for their touring show.

The plot of the play is how Emily Davidson and ‘necessary woman’ Mary meet in the cleaning cupboard, and discuss their views of the suffragettes. Emily Davidson, a historical suffragette famously threw herself under the King’s horse for the right of women to vote. The character of Emily has come to disrupt the House of Commons meeting after the 1911 census.

The minimalist set created an intimate atmosphere and the use of recorded voice and sound of bells and the master, made the scenes focussed. With clear temporal shifts, the characters’ stories unfold; the audience can realise the irrelevance of class and age in an unlikely friendship. In this play Emily plans to address the House of Commons, however in 1911 she failed and this play gave the audience a rare chance to hear her voice.

Through the character of Mary, we see what life was like for women in the lower classes. She considered it lucky to keep her job after having given up her baby for adoption, this moment of saddening confession provided clear juxtaposition from Emily’s speeches of power. Mary made it clear that this was not uncommon for women of the time. By the end of the evening the audience took away a clear message: women have fought for the right to be equal and society has made huge leaps but there’s still a long way to go. This topic is still relevant today, but shown in a historical setting we see the similarities in prejudice.

Scripted and devised: theatre at its best

Bedales Theatre 22nd April 2018 Web Res-5335 (Large)

By Meg Allin, 6.1

On Tuesday and Wednesday the 6.2s performed their devised pieces. Often when people enter the Bedales Theatre they see plays with many possible interpretations, which are usually hard-hitting, and these plays were no exception. To start we walked to the lake and saw two ‘women of the lake’ attack, seduce and murder a Vicar fisherman.  It included a lot of deeply rooted sounds and voices that no average actor could conjure up. The real fire, hellish music, bleeding heart and misty lake made for an atmospheric piece.

Next, back in theatre, a funny but truthful portrayal of gender inequality and double standards, featuring a lot of modern pop culture references such as Trump, Harvey Weinstein and Jimmy Savile which made the comedy more shocking; a moment that struck me was strong modern women being objectified as “bossy” and men as “tough”.  This contrast raised a lot of questions among the audience about the play’s message.

A homely set was then constructed with a sofa, lamp and beanbag, following an emotional and physically meticulous piece made for a detailed telling of two lovers and their journey of nostalgia and “gut love”; this saddening but captivating piece showed us love in its most pure state, the internal world of the two men was complex and yet beautifully portrayed.

The penultimate piece featured three women in wedding dresses exploring ways that people and society handles sexual assault and rape, done with sensitivity and poise.  The three pulled off a clear, montage style piece including how to keep you ‘safe’ in a car park or on a flight.

To finish off the night, a group of butterflies graced us with singing, cling film and berries, the childish aspects ironically calmed the madness of the piece. The three created scenarios that depicted stages of a woman’s cycle, while integrating an interesting butterfly metaphor throughout. On top of all this the 6.2s have also been performing their scripted pieces, which they performed on Tuesday. A very impressive display of skill and innovation, anyone who didn’t see these plays really missed out on something special. View photos

 

Bedales dancers explore ghostly movement and experience Hofesh first-hand

By Maud Bonham-Carter, 6.2

Ghost Dance - RambertLast Tuesday, all Dance students from Block 4 to 6.2 were lucky enough to watch three professional works by Rambert Dance Company at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. The evening consisted of three pieces of works by different choreographers. In Transfigured Night, by Kim Brandstrup, two lovers meet by moonlight, and a dark secret threaten to tear them apart. Ghost Dances by Christopher Bruce, was one of the highlights for a lot of the students as we are studying this piece at A level – so seeing it live really allowed us to immerse ourselves in the piece due to the knowledge we already had about the piece. The last piece, A Linha Curva by Itzik Galili, is Rambert’s party piece, the use of lighting helped to convey their strong and upbeat performance with Samba-fuelled movement that really grasped the audience’s attention from start to finish.

Hofesh Shechter Workshop 

Hofesh photo.
By Mila Fernandez 6.1

Last week dancers throughout the Blocks and Sixth Form had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a dance workshop. This workshop was led by Chien-Ming Chang and Mickael Frappat from the Hofesh Shechter Company. Hofesh is a very famous Israeli choreographer who created his own style of contemporary dance. Now based in Brighton with his own company, Hofesh created many shows that have toured around Europe. Through his very defined style, Hofesh aims to awake the audience by making them experience his work from the gut. His themes explore issues such as how powerful we can be as individuals, political issues, tensions in society and our need to break free from society in order to find freedom. This makes his work feel very topical and relevant to our modern society.

In the workshop we were led into many improvisations using the bases of the Hofesh style. We explored the way our bodies could move through different rhythms whilst staying completely relaxed and ourselves. It was a great way to discover new material and we were able to create spontaneously. Later, we learnt a bit of repertoire from the piece Grand Finale. Hofesh’s choreography was very challenging as he makes dancers go from states of complete relaxations to very tense and shaky movements. This is what makes his work so original and truthful. We finished with a couple of questions we had prepared for our teachers. We learnt a lot from the dancer’s past training and experience working with Hofesh and his style. This was a very inspiring experience, which taught us a lot about Hofesh’s style and ourselves as dancers.

View the Grand Finale trailer below

Charge: OB’s theatre work post-Bedales

Charge - Eve AllinBy Phil King, Director of Drama, Dance and Bedales Arts Programme

It was with a great sense of pride in recent Bedales drama and theatre studies graduates that I went to see Eve Allin’s play Charge performed at University of Warwick over the long leave weekend.

When here at Bedales, as drama Don, Eve won a major award at the National Student Drama Festival for reviewing live theatre and acted in, wrote, directed and assistant directed wonderful work while she was here.  Eve was a student who made the most of the panoply of theatrical options on offer here and Charge itself was part of the National Theatre New Views enrichment course.

The National Theatre said of Eve’s final draft that it was “a play with a great sense of the visual dimension, playing with fire and light both literally and metaphorically” and this excitement was captured in a converted Chemistry lecture theatre for the recent staging.  Seeing Charge as part of the week-long festival, Fresh Fest, offered me a chance to witness the energy, passion and drive great universities and great university students have for their subjects.  In an age where finance seems to sadly dominate most discussions about higher education watching a focussed army of directors, producers, technicians, actors and writers put on eight plays (that had to win a competition even to get to that point, selected by other students running the societies behind the scenes) was hugely heartening.

Even more heartening was watching Eve not only holding her own but being master of her world as a sharp-elbowed and highly knowledgeable first year (who is having to be highly selective of her drama courses to avoid repetition of the grounding she received whilst with us).  Well done Eve, from all of us.  We very much look forward to you making your mark, first on Warwick and then beyond.

Space and Time explored via theatre

 

By Jamie Murphy, 6.2, Drama Don

Inspired by their stimulus of ‘Space and Time’ Block 5 students recently performed their BAC devised pieces and the two groups took radically different paths.

The first piece, after looking at the David Bowie song Space Oddity, was an exploration of addiction, mental illness and loss, while the second investigated the lives of the astronauts that walked on the moon after looking at the book Moondust.

While both groups utilised physical theatre and naturalism to explore their themes, their narrative styles were markedly different. The first group devised three distinct vignettes that shared themes, while the second group chose to present a more linear narrative, seen through the eyes of the interviewer (who wrote the biographical novel) who witnessed the moon landing on television.

Both groups’ ingenuity, theatrical awareness and talent were clear throughout their pieces, which were evidence of how interesting and distinct devised pieces can be, even when ostensibly based entirely on the same stimulus.

View photos

But is it Art?

By Saul Barrett, 6.2

Yasmina Reza’s Art at the Old Vic presents us with three friends brought together and ultimately torn apart by one friend, Serge, and his costly purchase of a completely white painting.

As an originally lofty disagreement spirals into a malicious attack on one another, Matthew Warchus’ production astutely observes and satirises the way we talk about art. Reza is known for taking middle class and polite individuals and stripping them of all inhibition or kindness as their world comes crumbling around them. We see this in Rufus Sewell’s pretentious and stern character of Serge who is lambasted by the older traditionalist, Mark, while Tim Key’s fantastically vulnerable peacemaker Yvan is repeatedly made the punch-bag upon which they direct their frustrations, along with being denounced as ‘uncultured’.

Tall white walls evoke the sparse elegance of the Parisian setting while three chairs around a coffee table function as the domestic boxing ring around which the trio hurl their long-held resentment towards one another. Along with the well-choreographed dance between niceties and menace of the three actors the real triumph of the evening is Reza’s script which finds humour and sadness while making intriguing statements about art as well as using the subject as a vehicle for exorcising the anxieties and grievances of middle aged friends.

Lemons…

The first time I saw Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons was at the National Student Drama Festival in 2015. It’s a cliché, but it was even better the second time around. The simplicity and beautiful elegance of playwright Sam Steiner’s words echoed throughout the Olivier Theatre and they concluded that it was one of the best venues they’d ever played, along with the biggest audience.

For those who didn’t see it, Lemons came to Bedales from Warwick – an original work written, directed and performed by students. It tells the tale of Bernadette and Oliver – a dysfunctional but totally relatable couple who find themselves constrained by the latest legislation – the ‘Hush Law’ – as it is coined by activists. It limits them to 140 spoken words a day. Immediately, the audience is thrown into their relationship, and Bernadette and Oliver, directed by Ed Franklin, switch between time zones, language limits and spaces alike.

If the Q&A session at the end was anything to go by, we loved it and just wanted it to go on for longer. Full of questions and love and regret, Lemons enthralled students, parents and teachers alike.

By Eve Allin, 6.2