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Powerful professional performance helps boys prepare for QE’s own production

Members of the cast for QE’s forthcoming 2020 School Play enjoyed the opportunity to see a critically acclaimed London production and to meet both an actor and a stage director.

Year 8’s Girish Adapa won the group’s trip to the sold-out production of Albion at the Almeida Theatre in Islington as the prize in a Christmas quiz in The Day, an online daily newspaper for teenagers.

Albion, by Mike Bartlett, is a play is about nostalgia and national identity. It has widely been seen as a Brexit allegory.

The actor who met the QE group after the performance was Helen Schlesinger, known for her work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In Albion, she plays a novelist who is the friend of the chief protagonist of the play, giving a performance described by the Telegraph’s theatre critic, Dominic Cavendish, as “brilliantly wafting”.

The boys asked her questions about: acting techniques; the career progression of an actor; managing rejection and stress; the relative merits of stage and screen work; working with directors and other actors. and getting into character.

The trip was organised by Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement) Crispin Bonham-Carter and Gavin Molloy, from QE’s external drama partners, RM Drama.

The boys, many of whom will be involved in this year’s School production of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on 25th and 26th March, were also given the opportunity to meet Almeida’s Stage Manager, Linsey Hall, who answered their technical questions on how long it took to build the set, the practicalities of using real plants on the stage, and how they drained water from the grass.

Head of English Robert Hyland, who accompanied the QE pupils, along with Head of Library Services Surya Bowyer, said: “The boys thoroughly enjoyed the trip – it was a valuable experience to see a professional play of this calibre. I found the production intensely powerful: it’s a play which resonates with the ‘now’ of British society in a rich, thought-provoking, and emotionally moving way.

“I know that many of our boys were taken aback by the force of the performance, and the complexity of the message behind it,” added Mr Hyland. “It’s a really rare opportunity for them to be able to see a play with such high production values, and even rarer to be able to meet members of the cast and production team after the show. The questions asked by students were probing and reflective, both from the perspective of performance and stagecraft, and from the perspective of meaning and metaphor.”

Girish, whose quizzing skills led directly to the outing, agreed with Mr Hyland’s assessment, saying the play was “very moving”.

Hot-seating and sword-fighting as a troupe calls

Boys gained an invaluable fresh insight into their GCSE set English texts when a visiting theatre company staged two plays, along with innovative interactive workshops.

The Say Two Productions company performed Romeo and Juliet – a set text for Year 11 pupils – and J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, which Year 10 are currently studying.

Head of English Robert Hyland said: “The majority of time in class has been spent looking closely at the linguistic and thematic features of the texts in a purely literary context. It is really important for the boys to be able to appreciate how the literary foundation of the classroom translates into the dramatic sphere of performance if they are to maximize their understanding of the texts.”

In addition to performing the plays, the accompanying workshop programme involved hot-seating – where a character in a play is questioned about his or her background, behaviour and motivation.

“Ordinarily in a performance, the audience and actors are kept separate. On this occasion the workshops led by Say Two were innovative in the way the company really encouraged students to engage in the process of understanding how the page translated to the stage, and the theatrical purpose of Priestley’s and Shakespeare’s writing,” Mr Hyland added.

Jeshvin Jesudas, of Year 10, praised the interactive way in which An Inspector Calls was shown and the hot-seating, which, he said, “helped us to understand how the characters actually felt and gave us a greater and wider understanding of the play”.

The boys were also encouraged to speak out the dialogue from various scenes and to consider the relationship between the characters and how the characters perceived themselves.

For Romeo and Juliet, an interactive staging in costume of the Capulet Ball (Act 1, Scene 5) and of the sword fight between Romeo, Mercutio and Tybalt (Act 3, Scene 1) helped show Romeo’s progression through the text, proving popular with the boys.

Sajeev Karunakaran, of Year 11, said: “It was a very enjoyable performance that expanded my knowledge of the play. I enjoyed the open discussion on the key themes of the play, and the best parts were the interactive activities like the sword-fighting.”

The staging of both plays sought to engender greater insight into the key themes. “The aim was to aid students in their understanding of the set texts as dramatic texts, in addition to simply being academic texts to be studied as literature. Students can hugely benefit in their understanding of the plays if they understand the stagecraft and can anticipate the audience reaction,” added Mr Hyland.

Afterwards, several of the boys gave their views on Say Two’s visit:

  • Jai Patel, one of the Year 10 pupils who participated in the workshop for An Inspector Calls: “It was a very detailed insight into the actions and morals of the characters, showing text character development as the play progresses.”
  • Umer Saad Rahman, of Year 10: “It clearly showed the development of the characters and helped to improve my understanding. It was very interesting and interactive.”
  • Chakshu Chopra, of Year 10: “The performance was extremely engaging, and it portrayed many themes that we learned in class. Watching the performance helped me understand more and really brought the ideas and theories we learned to life.”
  • Dylan Domb, of Year 10, enjoyed seeing the twists and turns of the narrative happening right in front of him.
  • Jao-Yong Tsai, of Year 10, felt the production helped to show the recurring themes more clearly and to illustrate the deep ironies and contradicting views in the play.
  • Ansh Jassra, of Year 10: “I was able to achieve a greater understanding of the interactions between the characters, which, in turn, aided deeper analysis of the stage directions.”
  • Daniel Rodrigues, of Year 11, thought that the actors helped the audience further understand the plot and he enjoyed a very “immersive experience”.
  • Athiyan Chandramohan, of Year 11, felt the occasion was informative, helping him understand the themes of the play much better.
Modern setting for an ancient hatred in this year’s Shakespeare Schools Festival

QE’s actors tackled the challenging issues in one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays head-on in their production of The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare Schools Festival organisers at Finchley’s Art Depot praised the abridged QE production, which involved actors from across the year groups.

And Assistant Head (Pupil Development), Crispin Bonham-Carter, in turn, lauded Gavin Molloy, from QE’s external drama partners, RM Drama: “Our excellent theatre director-in-residence updated the story with an edgy, modern, Italian urban setting, which made the anti-Semitic storyline all the more shocking and relevant. Our mixed-aged cast really rose to the occasion.”

“Rivu Chowdhury, as Shylock, found real depth and nobility in this complex and tragic role,” added Mr Bonham-Carter, who was himself a well-known professional actor before becoming a teacher.

“He was ably balanced by the cruel exuberance of the young ‘Christians’ – Antonio, played by Sathujan Manmatharajah, and Bassanio, played by Maanav Patel, were both particularly convincing young hoodlums strutting around in their black leather jackets.” All three actors are in Year 13.

“George Raynor, of Year 12, caught Portia’s humanity as well as her steely intelligence, dealing calmly with a minor wig issue in the second half…”

He highlighted “notable performances” by Paul Ofordu and Ethan Solanki (both of Year 11) as “the arrogant losers – the dancing princes of Morocco and Arragon respectively.

“The whole cast of 23 were praised by the organisers for their team-work, their physical focus and the clarity with which they spoke and understood their lines,” said Mr Bonham-Carter.

Before staging the performance, the whole QE cast took part in a workshop at the Arts Depot led by professional Shakespeare Schools Festival staff.

Mr Bonham-Carter, who took up his post at QE in September, added: “The best part of my role as head of pupil involvement is seeing our young men responding creatively under pressure. Whether being interrogated in a debate, lost on a Duke of Edinburgh hike, or performing Shakespeare in a live theatre, our boys are learning through ‘real’ experiences such as these that, with good preparation and a can-do attitude, they can do anything!”

QE were performing alongside productions from Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Swiss Cottage School (a special school in Camden), and La Sainte Union Catholic School.

Stagecraft and witchcraft as boys get to grips with Macbeth

Year 9 pupils took a trip back in time to the dark days of Shakespeare’s Macbeth at a special Enrichment Day that offered them the chance to engage dramatically and creatively with the ‘Scottish play’.

Featuring a series of interactive workshops, the day brought to life Shakespeare’s brooding and exciting tragedy, which most of Year 9 had studied – from a purely textual point of view – earlier in the year.

Head of English Robert Hyland said: “Shakespeare was not written to be studied, but to be performed; therefore, an engagement with Macbeth would be incomplete without some understanding of the stagecraft and dramatic opportunities that this approach to the text provides, away from the minutiae of language analysis.”

Pupil Mahmudur Rahman enjoyed the day and said it helped him understand the play better: “The thing I like about drama is that you can play another person’s life – it’s a distraction from normal life and you can live in another person’s shoes. You can explore any dimension in history, going back centuries before, which I find fascinating.”

Mahmudur’s fellow Underne House member, Varun Maheswaran, said: “It was a fun day. When we played out the Macbeth scenes, it was enjoyable to explore the play in an interactive way.”

Organised by Mr Hyland, the all-day event took place in a classroom and the Main Hall. It was led by experienced drama professionals Gavin Malloy and Lauren Steadman, from RM Drama, QE’s external drama partner.

The workshops focused on:

  • Key characters – such as the relationship between Macbeth himself and Lady Macbeth
  • Key scenes – looking at the opening with the three witches
  • Key themes – including ambition, guilt, the supernatural and violence.

The techniques explored included the deployment of ‘freeze-frame’ tableaux, the use of dialogue and improvisation, and the development of soundscapes (where atmosphere is created by the use of collective sound).

With drama not being part of the normal classroom curriculum at QE, the day was especially significant for those Year 9 pupils who were not involved in the School Play, Lord of the Flies, at Easter nor in QE’s contribution to the Shakespeare Schools Festival in the autumn, Mr Hyland said. “While a good number of students have been involved in school productions, many other will not have had exposure to such an innovative approach to a Shakespearean text. It was really refreshing to watch boys perform so ably and creatively, and engage with Shakespeare in a completely different way. For many, this was an opportunity to demonstrate a set of talents that might have gone unnoticed in the classroom.

“The team from RM Drama did a fantastic job at getting our students active and involved – there was a real sense of energy and purpose as the day developed.”

Champions! Broughton are leading House for 2018–19

Broughton have been crowned this year’s top House at Queen Elizabeth’s School, following intense competition in fields as diverse as architecture and dodgeball.

A strong performance at Sports Day helped Broughton overtake Pearce to claim overall victory as the leader of QE’s six houses – a victory announced to great excitement at the end-of-year House Assembly.

Broughton’s House Captain, Saifullah Shah, and Deputy House Captain, Jamie Watkin-Rees, both of Year 12, were duly presented with the coveted House Cup by Headmaster Neil Enright.

Mr Enright said afterwards: “It has been another year of outstanding endeavour among the Houses, which play such an important role in fostering teamwork and friendship. My sincere congratulations go to all Broughton boys on their hard-won victory.”

During the assembly, Year 12’s Kieran Dhrona and Rishi Shah gave a presentation on the extensive fund-raising that takes place during the year in support of various charities as well as QE’s long-running Sai School Appeal, which aims to help the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India.

QE’s overall charity this year was the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, while there were also Christmas collections of food for the Chipping Barnet Foodbank and of clothing for a charity helping some of the 168,000 people homeless people in London.

Among the charity events staged were an inter-House dodgeball tournament run by Broughton and Harrisons’ for Years 7–9, which raised £280. Leicester and Pearce ran an interactive quiz for Years 7–10, raising £168. And Stapylton and Underne organised a guess-the-teacher baby photo competition, raising £87.70.

For the Sai School Appeal, a FIFA Tournament saw staff and pupils battle it out, games controllers in hand, in what was perhaps the most popular charity event of the year. One notable match included that between the Headmaster and the 2019 School Captain, Bhiramah Rammanohar.

The tournament raised £120.60, while a swimathon raised £609.65 and a guess-the-number-of-sweets-in-the-jar challenge at the Founder’s Day Fete brought in £62.

The House competitions reported on during the assembly included the:

  • Year 7 House afternoon won by Stapylton
  • In the Scoop news contest for Year 8 won by Pearce
  • Languages competition, in which boys were challenged to design a poster about an influential linguist or speaker of German. French or Latin
  • Architectural Enrichment Competition, won by Harrisons’
  • QIQE quiz, won by Broughton in a tough final against Stapylton.

The assembly also reviewed other activities of the year.

For drama, as well as looking back at the performances at the Shakespeare Schools Festival and at the School Play, Lord of the Flies, the presentation revealed the names of boys who have successfully auditioned for roles in next term’s Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.

Hundreds of boys have taken part in musical extra-curricular activities during the year. There are currently more than 20 ensembles, many of them pupil-led, involving 150 singers and nearly 200 instrumentalists. The 35 winners of Music colours from across the year groups were announced.

The assembly celebrated the winners of the separate QE chess championships for Year 7 and for Years 8-11, as well as those who performed strongly in the UK Chess Challenge. Junior, intermediate and senior chess colours were presented.

A report on the Duke of Edinburgh Award revealed that 87 Year 11 boys completed their bronze awards. Twenty-six Year 12s finished their silver awards, while 11 Year 13s completed D of E at gold level.

In sport, the assembly covered the following highlights:

  • Cricket: The Year 8 team reached the quarter-finals of the National Cup, where they lost on the last ball
  • Rugby: The U16s won the Hertfordshire plate; several boys gained county honours and a successful tour to Holland took place
  • Eton fives: Record levels of participation at QE brought encouraging successes at the sport’s national finals
  • Athletics: Combined Year 7 & 8 and 9 & 10 teams reached regional finals, and stand-out individual performances were listed
  • Water polo: Both the seniors and Year 10 reached their respective national cup plate finals.

‘Teams of the year’, comprising selections from across the year groups, were announced for cricket and rugby.

The evil that boys do: Lord of the Flies

A large cast drawn from across the year groups took on William Golding’s dark modern classic for this year’s School Play.

Lord of the Flies charts how a group of schoolboys stranded on a desert island descend into murderous brutality as they attempt to self-govern.

Performed over two evenings in the Main School Hall, the production saw actors from Years 7-12 lifting the veil on the darkness that Golding saw lurking behind the façade of civilisation.

The play’s director, Gavin Molloy, from the London-based Rough Magicke drama school, praised the performance of the cast: “They engaged well and worked collaboratively to tell this dark tale of civilisation, human nature and barbarity.”

Headmaster Neil Enright also congratulated the boys: “This was an ambitious and impressive production. Drama offers our pupils valuable opportunities to develop attributes such as verbal confidence and self-assurance, while the experience of learning lines and stage directions strengthens mental faculties including concentration and information recall.”

The novel draws on the violence and brutality of war that Golding, then a young schoolteacher, saw while serving in the Royal Navy during World War II.

By the time the book was published in 1954, Golding was teaching English at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury; it is widely believed that the book’s main characters were based on his real-life pupils.

The book is also seen by many as a rejoinder to works such as R M Ballantyne’s 1858 novel, The Coral Island. Like Lord of the Flies, this features adolescents marooned on an island, yet while Ballantyne’s protagonists largely conquer the evil they encounter, in Golding’s work it is the evil which overcomes the boys.

The phrase ‘Lord of the Flies’ is a translation of the Biblical title ‘Baal=Zebub’ or ‘Beelzebub’, a Philistine god viewed in theological sources as a significant demonic figure, or even the devil himself.

Golding went on to write many other works, including plays, essays, short stories and poems, as well as other successful novels, including Pincher Martin (1956), which gives the thoughts of a drowning sailor, and The Spire (1964), about the building and near-collapse of a spire on a mediaeval cathedral.

His publishing success enabled him to resign his teaching post in 1961. He won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1979, the Booker in 1980 – for Rites of Passage, the first volume in his trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth – and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. In 1988, he was knighted. Golding died suddenly in 1993.

In addition to praising QE’s actors, Mr Molloy highlighted the contribution of the boys providing support to the production: “We are fortunate to have a highly skilled student technical team who have helped bring our nightmarish vision to life on the stage with their excellent visual effects.”

Over recent years, the School Play at QE has brought to life the writing of authors as diverse as H G Wells, J M Barrie, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson.

The ‘blast of war’ blows again: QE draws national attention in Shakespeare Schools Festival

While the School’s actors impressed their local audience as they took on Henry V for a second consecutive year, at a national level the Shakespeare Schools Festival also turned the spotlight on QE as part of its 18th anniversary celebrations.

Year 13’s Rahil Shah, who took the title role, and QE’s now-retired former Drama Director Elaine White both featured as case studies in this year’s national Shakespeare Schools Festival programme booklet, with both praising the benefits of Shakespeare in shaping young people’s lives.

Following Mrs White’s retirement, for the first time the School’s production was delivered in partnership with the Rough Magicke drama school. Rough Magicke’s teacher, Gavin Molloy, prepared and directed the boys, from the initial day of auditions with 60 young hopefuls right through to the final performance at the ArtsDepot in Finchley with a cast of 30.

QE English teacher and Extra-Curricular Enrichment Tutor Micah King said: “Our Henry V was really moving – and particularly the battle scene between the English and French troops, performed in an emotional and visually stunning way with most of the cast on stage. I thought the students were a real credit to the School, and tribute should be paid to Gavin Molloy who worked exceptionally hard with the students to help them create a wonderful performance of Shakespeare.”

Supporting the cast was Year 12’s Arjun Patel, who was in charge of lighting and sound.

The other schools performing their abridged versions of plays on the same night at the ArtsDepot were Alexandra Park School, with Romeo and Juliet, Friern Barnet School, who took on Macbeth, and West Lea School, who performed The Tempest.

In the national programme, Rahil said: “The festival gives young people the opportunity to come together to be part of a cast and express themselves on stage, allowing them to build their confidence and be part of a team regardless of age, what they study and their other interests.

“Leading on from that, what is also important to stress is that SSF is not only for people that want to pursue the performing arts in the future as a career; it is for everyone.

“Personally, I hope to do computer science at university, but still appreciate the fact that SSF has allowed me to perform Shakespeare and take part in drama in my free time. It provides something different to my academic aspirations, and offers a balance that I think is both crucial and beneficial.”

For her part, Mrs White wrote: “I would have to say that my #BreakthroughShakespeare [an SSF hashtag for its 18th anniversary] moments are seeing young people overcome personal barriers to perform on stage. For instance, some students who initially lacked confidence in speaking were able to succeed in academic interviews. For others, the discipline of learning lines helped them with memorising, which in turn supported them with their studies. I’ve seen what a positive impact SSF has had on so many students that it would be difficult to single out just one!

“SSF to me means happy students…excitement and memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoyment which I know they take with them into student life.”

Boys have now begun rehearsals for next term’s School Play production of Lord of the Flies.

Back on top! Stapylton regain their title as QE’s leading House after a year of competition

Stapylton House are the winners of the 2017/18 House Cup – reclaiming the coveted trophy from last year’s champions, Underne.

Stapylton’s victory means this House has now won the trophy – formally the Eric Shearly Memorial Cup – for three of the last four years.

The triumph was announced at the end-of-year House assembly, where the cup was presented to House Captain Oliver Than-Lu and his Deputy, Omar Taymani, both from Year 12 (pictured above).

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to all Stapylton boys: this victory reflects their consistency of achievement in extra-curricular enrichment activities across the academic year, with the older boys’ efforts being boosted by a particularly strong Year 7 cohort. I trust that boys in other Houses will be inspired to redouble their efforts next year to challenge Stapylton for the crown.”

The assembly celebrated outstanding performances over a wide range of fields, including the performing arts, sport and charity work.

For this year’s House Drama competition, participants were challenged to produce original plays on the theme of a dystopian future: Leicester won the competition for the third consecutive year.

The House Music competition was won by Pearce.

In chess, the winners of various competitions were honoured, as were the boys chosen to receive junior, intermediate and senior colours.

Similarly, the assembly highlighted the names of boys who had won colours for music and sports.

There was a review of performances in sport throughout the year, including cricket, rugby, water polo, swimming and athletics. One innovation was the announcement of ‘teams of the year’ for cricket and rugby, which included leading performers from all year groups.

House charity fund-raising events during the year were celebrated, together with the work done to support the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India, with which QE has enjoyed a longstanding partnership.

Participation in The Duke of Edinburgh Award at QE remains strong: 100 boys from Year 10 enrolled for the bronze award in October and are due to complete their Qualifying Expedition in August, it was announced, while 34 Year 11 pupils signed up for the silver award and 18 Year 12 boys for the gold.

The assembly also recounted details of:

  • The various challenges run on a specially arranged House Afternoon
  • The QIQE quiz, which was by Stapylton
  • A number of House competitions run by the academic departments: these included, for example, a Languages competition to design a poster about a famous and influential linguist, which was won by Year 8 Stapylton pupil Jashwanth Parimi, and a photography competition for Years 7–9 run by the Geography department.
Happy at Harvard: Opportunities abound for Sahil at the Ivy League university

2016 leaver Sahil Handa has been reflecting on a packed first year at Harvard that has seen him embrace activities ranging from drama and dance to journalism and entrepreneurship.

The former School Vice-Captain, pictured above right with friends at the Harvard vs. Yale football match, decided to pursue a Liberal Arts degree at Harvard after being offered places at three Ivy League colleges. Sahil (OE 2009-2016) took up his place last September following a gap year.

“It has been an incredible year at Harvard and I am the happiest that I can ever remember being,” he says. “The university offered me more opportunities than I could ever have imagined; the people I met, the classes I took, and the adventures I enjoyed have made me extremely thankful for the chance to study in Boston.”

At School, Sahil was elected a drama director and also ran the QE dance club for four years. He has built significantly on this QE experience at Harvard: “I was the lead male actor in a play called JOGGING, which was performed eight times at the American Repertory Theatre and directed by professional director Melissa Nussbaum. The play is set in Beirut, deals with themes of religious violence, feminism, and motherhood, and involved me playing six different men at different stages of life. It was definitely the most intense (and rewarding) theatrical experience I’ve had so far; luckily, my mum was able to visit and watch!”

Sahil was a dancer and model for the Eleganza Fashion Show – a large charity event held in Harvard’s ice rink, which “involved lots of dancing, strutting and attitude!” – and was the Bollywood choreographer for Ghungroo, a South Asian cultural show, for which he created and taught a routine to 30 students who had never danced before.

His writing skills have rapidly attracted attention. He has won a place on the editorial board of Harvard’s renowned student newspaper, Harvard Crimson, and now writes articles for its opinion section. “I have recently been made a Harvard Writing Center Tutor,” he adds. “This is a paid part-time job reserved for undergraduates who have shown excellent writing capabilities during their time at the university, and it involves me helping undergraduate and graduate students who are struggling with an essay.” In addition, he took a workshop with Man Booker prize-shortlisted author Neel Mukherjee. “I have been writing a lot of fiction, particularly short stories,” he adds.

Sahil has also:

  • Devised, co-written and directed a student play;
  • Secured a position as a Freshman Arts Proctor (as the creative writing proctor) which means he will be helping those in the 2018 student intake who enrol in the week-long immersive Freshman Arts Program;
  • Recently founded the Harvard Centrist Society along with a few friends; “My role will be the Director of Speakers and Networking;”
  • Helped start a scheme called the Harvard Giving Pledge, which is attempting to convince all Harvard Students to commit to giving 1% of their income to charity;
  • Begun working for a fellow Harvard freshman’s start-up – a productivity app aimed at high school students;
  • Joined the Harvard Political Union, the main political debating organisation on campus.

Notwithstanding all these extra-curricular activities, his classes have been a highlight of the year, reports Sahil. “My favourite courses were High and Low in Post-war America – a tour of Post America’s cultural theory, art, poetry, literature, music, race relations, journalism and philosophy – and Early Modern Philosophy: Self and World –an introductory philosophy course that focused on metaphysics and epistemology. I’m looking likely to major in a combination of Philosophy, Psychology and English Literature, but I’m certainly enjoying the freedom that comes with being able to pick across all of the disciplines.”

During his first year at Harvard, he has taken a few trips with fellow students, which has served both to deepen friendships and to further his love of travel. These included a road trip & trekking expedition in Texas and a last-minute trip to Iceland a week before examinations, with Sahil and his fellow students taking advantage of $100 tickets and studying on the aeroplane to make sure their results did not suffer.

And after the final term ended last month, Sahil headed up to the famous tourist hotspot of Cape Cod to stay at the house of his best friend. “I actually met him on my gap year; we decided, along with a few other Harvard gap-year students, to backpack around Southeast Asia for two months as a group.”

Henry V: half-an-hour with energy and power

QE’s own ‘band of brothers’ – the School’s tightly knit group of senior actors – gave a powerful performance of Henry V at the 2017 Shakespeare Schools Festival.

A 23-strong cast, headed by Year 13’s Nicholas Pirabaharan in the title rôle, brought their abridged version of the history play to the ArtsDepot in North Finchley for the world’s largest youth drama festival.

Elaine White, who runs QE’s drama provision, said the ensemble had, as ever, coalesced well, with the older actors supporting the new Year 10 boys effectively as they all got to grips with Shakespeare’s account of events during the Hundred Years’ War before and after the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.

""“It can be difficult delivering Shakespearean language for the first time, but our boys learn quickly and always end that journey with a thorough understanding of their part,” said Mrs White. “Their storytelling became stronger and, by the big day the final piece was well-defined, with some solid performances.

""“The battle scene became one of their favourite scenes as it embodied powerful physicality and raw energy – quite daunting, especially when rehearsing in a small space!”

Mrs White added: “The SSF Venue Director, Jordana Golbourn, praised their careful choreography and the power of their performance, congratulating Year 13 pupil Mark Thomas as student Director.”

""Keenan Dieobi played the French king, while his fellow Year 13 pupils, Al-Fayad Qayyum and Mohit Miyanger, took the rôles of the Duke of Exeter and Fluellen respectively. Among the backstage support were 2016 leavers Miles Huglin, Shiras Patel and Alex Wingrave.

The audience included the Headmaster, Neil Enright, and a number of other staff.

Earlier this term, festival experts led a workshop for QE’s cast and crew to help them with their preparation.