Mr C. Minion, House System Leader, writes:

So it’s the week before Christmas, the lights are up, trees are decorated, the stockings are filled, mince pies freshly baked, the reindeer are hooked up and raring to go and obviously it’s House Drama time!
For those who are new to Stanborough, this is our annual drama competition where each of our six houses chooses a 30 minute play to perform in front of the rest of the school. The plays are performed three times. Each of the performances are marked with the majority of the marks being given on the final performance day by our two esteemed judges. This year we were lucky enough to have Mrs Daplyn and Miss Erakleous casting their expert eyes over proceedings.

Our plays this year were:

Sopwell – Chicago

Sopwell Chicago 2018w

This was a fantastic production of the hit show, but cut down to a 30 minute piece which showed great skill on the part on the directors. There was good use of scenery portraying each of the different locations clearly. There were many starring roles with Bethan Makowski as Roxie, Harriet Hawkins as Velma and Jay Puranik, displaying elements of Richard Gere as the Lawyer, Billy Flynn, really driving the performance along. The direction was excellent – in particular the scene in the jail with the women explaining why they were all incarcerated was a particularly stand out moment. Very well done Sopwell.

Brocket – Addams Family

Brocket Addams Familyw

I have seen many productions over the last 12 years of House Drama (72 to be fair, even my maths can do that one!) and this production stands up with the very best of them! I loved how slick this was, the picking up of cues, the characterisation, attention to detail, but most importantly – the comedy! As Mr Harris will tell you, the secret of good comedy is … timing! And it looks like Brocket have learnt from their new Head of House! Comedy is extremely hard to do, particularly over three performances. It takes precision and you must rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. Brocket absolutely nailed this! It helps if you have a great lead, and this year Brocket unearthed a new talent! Max Hart absolutely stole the show as Gomez, the stage literally came alive every time he was on. No mean feat when you had Vicky Langley (Mortica) Lewis Sherman (Fester) Reece Ogeer-Ali (Lucas) just to mention a few, performing each of their characters perfectly. Also special mention to Jorja Walsh and Karl Puranik as the hapless parents to Lucas. I hadn’t realised Jorja was Year 7 until I saw the programme! I had assumed she was at least Year 10 based on her acting skills. All cast members were fantastic. An awesome job by Allyna Farrell and Holly Deacon in this creation of a masterpiece.

Knebworth – The Goonies

Knebworth The Gooniesw

Who hasn’t seen the Goonies! Well, embarrassingly, me! Something I put right as soon as I’d seen Knebworth’s great version. Plays are about great storytelling. And Knebworth carried this off with aplomb. I don’t think I’ll ever look at Jack Hamer in quite the same way again after his portrayal of Mama Fratelli! What I loved most was the relationship between the goonies themselves, expertly led by Olivia Evans as Brenda. Alfie as Chunk proved a great foil for both Jack Hamer and Alfie Kerr as Sloth and his performance was perfectly judged. Great effort with the props used as well really helped set the different scenes. An excellent effort Knebworth.

Hatfield – Septem

Hatfield Septemw

Hatfield went with the ambitious play choice of Septem. Compared to the other all action plays this is all about the set up, the situation of a game show in the future. Except, in order to win, one person needs to take a pill that will end their life. How do you decide? And who will make the ultimate sacrifice? Any play that revolves completely around the dialogue presents challenges. And the cast and directors all worked so hard to enable them to carry it off. The play was gripping from start to finish with a very dramatic twist at the end that was expertly handled by Lucy Paris and Georgia Burgess as directors. A really strong cast handled this challenge so well. Daniel Green played the character of Sam to a tee. You’d almost think he was like that at home! And special mention goes to Joshua Long for stepping into the main role of Trevor a week before performance. Something you would never had known! Very well done Hatfield.

Offley – Friends

Offley Friendsw

The One with all the Resolutions. The challenge for Offley here was to portray characters that most of us know as well as members of our own family. But to do this without it seeming like they were doing impersonations.

They managed this and much more. It was great to see how much this production grew from performance to performance as the confidence grew within the cast. This was a joy to watch. The trouser scene with Carlo Fucchi as Ross was hysterical and Phoebe’s (Vinnie Miles) guitar teaching to Joey (Oliver Hursey) was classic. The direction was sharp and witty, with the scene changes simple and very effective. A wonderful directorial debut from Courtney Collins and Katarina Krajnovic. A special mention goes to Chandler played by newcomer Matthew Dunstan who learnt the part over the weekend after a very last minute dropout. His performance was faultless, and this is definitely a young man who we will hear a lot about in the future here at Stanborough I am sure!

Ashridge – Last Christmas

Ashridge Last Christmasw

So that just leaves us with Ashridge, who decided this year to write, produce and direct their own self-penned production. The writers and directors were Daniel Rowe and Hayden Cable. And you had the feeling that this is what the two of them have been working towards since first coming onto the scene way back in Year 7. First of all you are struck by the detail of the full set which was the most impressive set ever seen at a House Drama competition. Then the combination of dramatic lighting and sound created an atmosphere that just pulled you into the story of each character with a realism hitherto unseen. However, as mentioned earlier, it is all about the story telling, and Ashridge put on stage the most complete set of actors we have had the pleasure of watching. Each character had a role in the story and each delivered with exactly the right amount of emotion, reaction and clarity. This was like watching a production with experienced adult performers that you have paid to see. Hayden’s role is the pivotal one but you don’t realise this until the reason for the characters to all have been summoned to the house has been revealed. It didn’t matter if the actors were in Year 7 or Year 13, the delivery of lines, movement and believability never wavered. I am not going to single out individual performances here as to do so would be unfair. Every actor delivered the highest standard of performance. This is due not only to the talent of the actors but also due in no small part to the two directors who managed to explain what they wanted and allow the actors the room and confidence to perform. I will not spoil the end, because I sincerely hope that this is not the last time this piece (or a version of it) is performed – and I hope you get the chance to see it. An awesome achievement by all.

This year the Stanborough Oscars 2018 go to:

Best Actor:
Max Hart – Brocket (Gomez – The Addams Family)

Best Actress:
Bethan Makowski – Sopwell (Roxie Hart – Chicago)

Best Supporting Actor:
Lewis Sherman – Brocket (Fester – The Addams Family)
Alfie Mullin – Knebworth (Chunk – The Goonies)

Best Supporting Actress:
Annabelle Dunstan – Ashridge (Judge – Last Christmas)
Jorja Walsh – Brocket (Alice – The Addams Family)

Best Newcomer:
Matt Dunstan – Offley (Chandler – Friends)

Best Actor in a Cameo Role:
Allyna Farrell – Brocket (Lurch – The Addams Family)

Best Sound and Light:
Ashridge

Best Special Effects:
Brocket

Best Set and Props:
Ashridge

Best Direction:
Ashridge

House Drama 2018
1stAshridge1000 points
2ndBrocket900 points
3rdOffley800 points
4thSopwell700 points
5thHatfield600 points
6thKnebworth500 points

I just have to say a massive thank you to our two judges this year. I’m so glad I didn’t have that responsibility. A huge thanks to Mr Craig and the SALT team who were fantastic this year. To Mr McQueen for all his help during the run and whose inspiration and teaching with his staff in the Drama faculty helps motivate these students to perform to this level. To Will Stringer for all his work with SALT and as House Ambassador as my primary link with the House Captains. To all performers and back stage crew for all their work. And finally to all my House Captains who have worked tirelessly to put on this run of six shows over three days, as well as studying for their GCSEs and A levels. A truly wonderful effort. And hopefully one they will always remember.

Next stop – House Music.