Professionals help QE boys polish performance

Professionals help QE boys polish performance

Actors and crew preparing for their forthcoming performance of Henry V enjoyed an exclusive workshop with experts from the Shakespeare Schools Festival.

Usually two schools would take part in the workshop, but because the other school due to attend was unable to be there, the 26 QE pupils from Years 10-13 had the undivided attention of the SSF facilitators.

Mark Thomas, of Year 13, who is the student director, had prepared one scene from Henry V with the ensemble to present and work on with the SSF staff. Members of the crew enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the theatre technicians at the Arts Depot in North Finchley. And boys working towards their Trinity College Silver Arts Award also benefited from discussions with SSF professionals to discuss their own route into the arts. In addition, the boys worked on percussive sound and on battle cries to enhance the tension and passion of the scene.

“During the workshop, the facilitators looked at different aspects, including vocal delivery and physicality,” said Elaine White, the drama co-ordinator at QE. “They spent time developing the performance until it was really powerful and almost threatening. It was quite a thrill to watch the older boys working alongside the younger ones, sharing their knowledge and coaching them in performance.”

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation, which runs the annual festival, was set up to enable young people to perform in professional theatres. The foundation provides curriculum resources and workshops to help school children improve their literacy and develop their confidence and teamwork. In their mission statement, the foundation says it wants to show children that “Shakespeare is not just fun, it can also be terrifying, hilarious and deeply moving”. Its patrons include Jenny Agutter, Hugh Dennis and Ralph Fiennes.

QE’s final 30-minute, abridged performance of Henry V will take place as part of the festival at the Arts Depot in North Finchley on 20th November, at 7pm. Three other schools will also perform their own abridged versions of Shakespeare plays. Tickets are available from the Arts Depot.