Drama at Queen Margaret’s provides girls with the means by which they can create, express and respond to their own ideas and concepts, through the effective use of a visual and verbal vocabulary. It should provide each girl with the skills to handle a variety of social/real life situations effectively and with an understanding of the feelings of others. We facilitate a problem-solving approach to their learning, and enhance this through direct experience and decision-making.
Through Drama, girls are encouraged to develop an inherent sensitivity, responding to challenging experiences, both emotionally and aesthetically. This seeks to enhance the girls’ awareness and enjoyment of their own work and that of the group. It also develops their powers of observation and perception, through the use of published texts as well as their own scripted and improvised work. Many girls thoroughly enjoy this subject area, whether or not they take it to examination level.
QM Goes into The Jungle
On 21st May 2012 the Centenary Building at Queen Margaret’s School was transformed into the Jungle! Children from Terrington Hall, Escrick Primary School, North Duffield School and Naburn Primary School came as young girls and boys and were transformed into monkeys, elephants and bears.
The children had come to Queen Margaret’s for the school’s second annual Junior Schools Performing Arts Day. Following last year’s successful Lion King themed day this year’s event was based upon the Disney classic The Jungle Book. The schools’ 53 boys and girls, aged 8 to 10, were divided into three groups: the bears, the monkeys and the elephants, giving each child the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends whilst learning a song and dance to perform in front of pupils and staff in the afternoon.
With fabulous stomping and waving of trunks the elephants marched the performance on, followed by some carefree bears telling us to ‘forget your worries and your strife’ and finishing the performance, some very cool, banana wielding monkeys performing the classic I Wanna Be Like You.
With plenty of smiling, lots of giggling, tails and masks the day was a great success and all the monkeys, bears and elephants left in high spirits. A huge thank you go to all the pianists, choreographers and dramatists from Queen Margaret’s for making each child feel like The King of the Swingers!
On Wednesday 28th March the AS Drama and Theatre Studies performed their monologues and group piece for an examiner.
The three students, Lily-Rose Bagshaw, Louisa Ferguson and Lily Whitcombe started with their individual pieces before performing Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit. A light-hearted yet sophisticated play, which its creator specifically described as an ‘improbable farce’, Blithe Spirit tells the story of the re-emergence of Charles Condomine’s first and supposedly deceased wife, Elvira, initially alarms, but then intrigues him, whilst his second and current wife Ruth is aghast, then thoroughly jealous of her ethereal counterpart.
Lily, Louisa and Lily-Rose were fantastic in their respective roles of Elvira, Ruth and Charles and the group reflected well the strength and quality of drama at Queen Margaret's School.
A2 Devised Drama
On Tuesday 24th
January an audience of staff and students were treated to a truly original piece of QM theatre. A2 Theatre Studies students Rosanna Whitcombe, Harriet Noble and Lily Rose Bagshaw, presented their 15 minute devised performance ‘Three Old Ladies’, the tragic story of a care home day trip gone horribly wrong.
Bickering sisters Aggie and Vera, determined to enjoy their day of freedom at Scarborough beach, decide to ditch their twittering third-wheel, Mrs P, in the public toilets. Their careless actions have consequences which they could never have imagined when the elderly Mrs P, alone and vulnerable, is violently attacked by two thugs for the contents of her handbag. The two women grow increasingly uneasy as police continue to search for their friend and begin to turn on each other as they wait anxiously in the care home, until eventually they learn of her death on the local news.
As the piece opened we watched the three girls, dressed in neutral black costume transform themselves into pensioners. Simple costume and make up combined with convincing performances worked to allow the audience to suspend their disbelief and accept these teenagers as elderly women.
The piece was handled with impressive maturity and subtlety, combining moments of tragedy with gentle comedy. The actors successfully avoided falling into all-to-easy stereotypes, giving each character their own unique voice. The characters of the three old ladies were well-developed, each with their own individual memories, hopes and fears and this depth of character came across effectively within this short performance.
The young cast explored a variety of theatrical devices combining well-written, naturalistic dialogue with monologue, multi-rolling and stylised movement. The performers should be commended for their brave choice of such a challenging piece and for the skill with which it was presented. The group successfully created believable characters and switched adeptly between roles, transforming from teenage boys to elderly women in seconds, and produced a piece which was as funny as it was and thoughtful. We wish the A2 group the best of luck for their results.
In November of the Autumn Term 2011 audiences were taken on a harrowing journey through nine years of Eighteenth Century England by the Senior production Coram Boy.
The play, adapted by Helen Edmunson for stage from the prize winning novel of the same name by Jamila Gavin, centres around two young men, the gentrified Alexander Ashbrook and the mentally damaged Meshak Gardiner both brilliantly portrayed by Lucy Hughes and Lily-Rose Bagshaw respectively.
The dark themes of the play challenged the young cast as well as the audience. Infanticide, child abuse, capital punishment, theft and greed were amongst the blackest of the subjects featured in the play and these were tackled with a maturity and sensitivity worthy of a professional adult cast. The set, stunning in its simplicity, aided the transportation from cathedral to stately home, port to ship and forest to gallows.
Interspersed with movements from Handel’s glorious work Messiah performed by QM staff and students with the Lay Clerks of Ripon Cathedral and recorded at Ripon Cathedral the whole production left audiences blown away by its maturity, poignancy and gravitas.
Please click below to see a slideshow of photographs from the production and of the cast in rehearsal.
Queen Margaret's School is pleased to present Coram Boy
. With a cast made up of senior pupils at the school and a soundtrack recorded at Ripon Cathedral featuring Queen Margaret's choir, staff and the Lay Clerks at the Cathedral singing excerpts from Handel's Messiah
, this dramatic production is not one to be missed. Performances are Saturday 26th November starting at 7.15pm and Sunday 27th November starting at 7.30pm. For those unable to attend the weekend performances there is an Open Dress Rehearsal on Friday 25th November starting at 7.15pm. For more information or to book tickets please telephone Mrs Jenny Pringle on 01904 728 261. Tickets are free but there will be opportunity at the performances to donate with all funds going to The Coram trust for Children. For information about the work of the Coram Trust please visit www.coram.org.uk
The Madness of King George III
On Thursday 15th
September, the fifth year and sixth form drama girls took an excursion to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. The production we saw was Alan Bennett’s notorious and comical ‘The Madness of King George III,’ starring David Haig as the humorous yet crazed King. Bennett’s play is a fictional account of the latter half of George III’s reign. Plagued by mental illness George’s court and personal physicians struggle to come to terms with his condition, which later generations of medics have diagnosed as porphyria.
Haig’s performance was utterly committed and he exuded a tremendous amount of energy in order to portray the irrational King. The production boasted an extremely talented cast of various ages, but Haig excelled in his role and never failed to please the ever engaged audience. Bennett’s script was witty and intelligent and found suitable expression in director Christopher Luscombe’s production which combined a modern setting with traditional props creating the periodic feel of the eighteenth century with eccentric Georgian costumes, white wigs and buckled shoes, exposing the conspicuous wealth of the ruling classes.
Altogether the production comprised politics, a battle between father and son, and of course the madness of a King, stimulating an exciting and exceptional performance for an audience who relished every last minute of it.
Rosie Whitcombe (Upper Sixth)
On the 15th September, the fifth and sixth form drama groups went to the refurbished Theatre Royal, Newcastle, to see a production of Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III
. The play takes place over a series of months in 1788-1789 at a time when King George had a mental breakdown and the Prince of Wales tried to become Regent. David Haig, the actor who played King George, was truly the star of the show; his energy and charisma were astonishing. While playing the mad scenes, he would talk for five minutes straight about nothing at all. Believe it or not, it was a very funny play. It included a lot of witty lines, from a range of characters. The character that proved funny just by appearance, was the Prince of Wales. He had hair like a poodle, and a voice like Justin Bieber. His plan was to overthrow his father, as he thought the king would never return to health. Two other main characters were: Queen Charlotte, a lady with a rather voluptuous figure, who cared a lot about her husband and stood by him no matter what; and Dr Willis, who cared for the king and cured him by sometimes violent and painful methods. In the end Willis never got any appreciation for what he did, especially from the King who did not believe it was him that cured him, only time. Overall it was a highly pleasing performance, with a hugely strong cast, and I am sure we would all recommend it for a night out.
Dixi (Winifred) Taylor (Year V)
Lower School Venture into Wonderland
Queen Margaret’s Lower School production of Alice
, left audiences spellbound as they were transported down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Based upon Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
and the sequel Through the Looking Glass,
the production provided all the fun, fantasy and frolics associated with Carroll’s fiction.
The performances ran from Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th June and pupils from Escrick and Naburn Primary schools attended the Thursday matinee along with many of the girls who will join QM in September. All the young visitors were enchanted by the colourful characters created by the girls.
The striking chequerboard stage was the perfect backdrop for many familiar scenes including the croquet game, complete with flamingos, the court scene and the Mad Hatter’s manic Tea Party. Clever use of digital technology enabled the Cheshire Cat to disappear and reappear most convincingly and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were an energetic comedy duo. Musical interludes were provided in the form of riddles transformed in song.
Huge congratulations go to the girls from Years I to IV who threw themselves into the production process, worked hard to learn their lines and stage directions, developed original and striking characters and co-operated brilliantly together as a team. Unlike the White Rabbit, their timing was perfect!
Junior Jungle Drama Fun at Queen Margaret’s School
Over 75 budding performers from 6 local primary schools took to the stage at Queen Margaret’s School during a fun packed Performing Arts Day on Tuesday 24th
Taking inspiration from the popular stage musical ‘The Lion King’ the day involved a carousel of performing arts activities. Students will be jumped to jungle beats, embraced animal acting and sang along to tribal rhythms.
Queen Margaret’s welcomed pupils from Archbishop of York’s CE Junior School, Cawood Primary School, Escrick Primary School, Hambleton Primary School, Naburn Primary School and North Duffield Community Primary School. The day of activities culminated in a fantastic performance in the Chapman Theatre.
Fun was had by all who took part and staff leading the activities. Many thanks go to Queen Margaret’s Drama and Music Departments and to Marketing Assistant Eleanor Pike for coordinating the event.
Stunning AS Drama
Audiences were recently treated to a stunning showcase of young talent in the form of the AS Drama Performance. The five candidates, Beatrice Hill, Harriet Noble, Gabrielle Richardson, Grace Whitcombe and Rosie Whitcombe performed monologues before their group piece, Kindertransport
by Diane Samuels.
The individual monologues took the audience from contemporary Lewisham and the harrowing Beached
by Kevin Hood, to a fifteenth century ecclesiastical court for St Joan’s ‘trial of the spirit’ from where we were transported to 1930s Edinburgh where Miss Jean Brodie defends her character against the accusations of Miss Mackay in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
. From one teacher to a governess we then saw Jane Eyre berate herself for daring to think that Rochester could ever be attracted to one so ‘plain’ in Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre
. The monologues ended in the tragic humour of Doris as she reflects on her situation upon finding a cream cracker under her sofa in Alan Bennett’s short A Cream cracker Under the Settee
Following the monologues the five students continued to deliver in their production of Diane Samuel’s award winning play Kindertransport
. Much credit must go to the five candidates who tackled a play that many a seasoned professional would have struggled with. It was a testimony to how convincing a performance the five gave that many of the audience members were left with tears in their eyes.
A fabulous presentation of the wonderful dramatic talent we have at Queen Margaret’s we wish the AS Drama group all the best for their results.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Dates have now been published for the performance of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
starring Old Margaretian Lorna Beckett. the production runs from Wednesday 16th March to Thursday 7th April at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Directed by Erica Whyman the production is also enjoying a second run in Newcastle between Tuesday 12th and Saturday 20th April at Northern Stage. For full details and to book tickets to see Lorna play Honey alongside star of stage and screen Sian Thomas go to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
Former QM Student Cast in Production
Old Margaretian Lorna Beckett has just been cast to play Honey in a new production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Lorna, who left Queen Margaret's in 2001, will be starring in the play, a joint venture by Northern Stage and The Crucible, alongside star of stage and screen Sian Thomas (Vanity Fair, Perfume, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
). Thomas will be playing Martha in Edward Albee's classic play of two American couples and the truth that lies behind their relationships.
Watch this space for more news of Lorna's performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Something’s Coming to Queen
With one hand and one heart, Queen Margaret's School take on the Sharks and the Jets in a performance of West Side Story. Directed by Deborah Whitcombe with music and choreography by Stuart Nettleship and Alison Leadley it is sure to be a “Cool” production.
The girls have many tiring practices lined up over the short few weeks to the debut performance which will take place on Thursday 25th November in the school’s own theatre. Many hours have been spent getting prepared which includes a day with a fight specialist.
The lead, Grace Whitcombe (16) says she is ‘thrilled and honoured to be able to perform as Maria and sing the wonderful songs. I am most excited about singing ‘I feel pretty’ which I have practised every spare minute’.
Queen Margaret’s, known for its extravagant and faithful performances of classic plays, welcomes in anyone who has a love for theatre and wishes to see talent unleashed in this wonderful school.
With the most talented actresses, dancers and singers involved, this play promises to be the best the school has hosted for years. Based on the original choreography from the Broadway performance in 1957, Alison Leadley whispers that she is both ‘anxious and tremendously excited for the dance routines, especially that in ‘America’ and the dance competition between the two gangs’.
With many girls in the school helping in their own way, be it with costume, lighting or scenery, Queen Margarets’ ‘West Side Story’ promises to leave you satisfied.
To reserve your tickets please telephone the school.
Drama in the Lower School follows a progressive course, covering modules which centre on specific practical skills and techniques, as well as the language and form of theatre. All year groups receive one lesson of one hour per week. Classes, held in the theatre or workshop space, are largely practical and focus on both improvisation and scripted work.
Year One begins with an introduction to foundation drama skills and storytelling. This leads into devised activities and voice work, which form the basis of a year group public performance.
Year Two sees the development of drama vocabulary in conjunction with intermediate devising and vocal skills. We also explore commedia theatre and the use of masks/puppetry. This is then incorporated in a performance.
Year Three includes some more sophisticated role play and a focus on ‘issues’ which can be explored through drama. Movement based activity is liked with this and there is an opportunity for performance to display this.
This course looks at the meaning, construction and production of drama and theatre. Pupils will develop group skills including co-operation and communication, while learning to respond independently and take responsibility for their own work. Teachers will provide the ‘tools’ and techniques, allowing pupils to make their own choice of creative reactions.
During the course pupils will look at a variety of texts and stimulus material from fiction to film, together with music, artifacts and images. They will study the work of various playwrights; often contemporary, whilst awareness of the history of the theatre is encouraged. Visits to live performances are made several times throughout the course.
The examination consists of both practical and written coursework, spread out through Year IV and the first half of Year V. The latter part of the final year is spent preparing for a group performance, in front of a visiting examiner, which accounts for the remainder of the overall GCSE result.
In this course, play texts are explored through practical activities and written tasks, which form part of the exam result. We make several theatre visits throughout the year, to watch a variety of productions. The girls rehearse and perform a published play, to a live audience and an external examiner. Another short piece of drama, monologue or duologue, is prepared and then presented, along with a written explanation of the actor’s interpretation.
The initial focus is on creating a unique and original piece of theatre, working with the rest of the group. It is performed to an invited audience, and the whole process is written about, as a further part of the examination. The girls also study a set play, in an academic and practical way, as well as studying an historical period of theatre. We see a live performance of the play, and compare it with the original staging conditions. The course finishes with a related written exam.
Girls from all year groups can participate in Drama productions, of various kinds, ‘straight play’ and musical, which make a significant contribution to life at Queen Margaret’s. The subject area is therefore high profile – as pupils present their work to the rest of the school, parents and a wider audience, thus allowing opportunities to take part in or witness the creative responses made. This provides a stimulating and innovative environment, which benefits the school as a whole.