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The whole school production of The Tempest

Magic is at the very heart of The Tempest, and this year’s whole school production of Shakespeare’s final play was truly spellbinding. 

It was clear from the outset that this staging was going to be something special, immersing the audience in an enchanting world brought to life by a talented team of Tudor theatre-makers from across the school; combining their acting, musical, dance, artistic and technical skills. 

The cast had worked extremely hard getting to grips with the iambic pentameter and their assured performances were word-perfect as they brought to life this story of vengeance and forgiveness, power, freedom and love. The production flowed seamlessly, thanks in no small part to Prospero’s (Miranda, Vs) effortless command of the stage and the ingenious set design, which lent itself perfectly to transporting audiences from the deck of the ill-fated ship to the enchanted island and to Prospero’s cell. The smoky stage effects, dramatic lighting and music - including original compositions created by A Level music scholars, Izzy and Hana (both LVI) – added real depth to this atmospheric production, as did the ornate costumes. The rich period garments of the Italian royal party (featuring some very impressive make-up moustaches); the delicate, flowing blue costumes of the Ariel spirits; and the visually arresting Caliban costume, complete with crab headdress, really enhanced the characterisation. 

The quality of movement across the piece was outstanding: the Ariel spirits glided with an ethereal quality as they carried out Prospero’s magical orders, the Caliban dancers advanced menacingly under the instruction of the angry, enslaved Caliban (Samia, Vs), whilst the clumsy blunderings of the drunken butler, Stephano (Bea, LVI), and court jester, Trinculo (Hana, LVI), added an element of physical comedy. The joy-filled, high-energy whole cast dance number, celebrating the sweet romance between Prospero’s daughter, Miranda (Isobel, IIs), and Queen Alonso’s son, Ferdinand (Poppy, UVI), also deserves a special mention; the contemporary song choice - Bruno Mars’s Marry You – contrasting to the formality of the Greek wedding pageantry (Millie, LVI, Ava and Arabella, IIIs) had a flash-mob feel to it. 

Emily Scates, Head of Drama, reflected, “One of my new colleagues asked however did I manage to garner interest from teenagers to get involved in a Shakespeare play and I do hope the production answered his question. Shakespeare wrote to be performed and through performance we come to understand the rich tapestry that this local wordsmith left for us to unpick. With feuding Royals at the forefront of the story it is as relevant now as when it was written in 1611. Watching the cast breathe life into words written centuries ago is awe-inspiring and through our interpretation, we hope the audience connected to The Tempest in a new way. 

It has been such a joy to see the confidence of the performers increase over the weeks of rehearsing, friendships develop and acting skills honed. This has been a truly collaborative experience and one that we hope the audiences enjoyed as much as we enjoyed creating it. Thank you to all the team who have helped create ‘such stuff as dreams are made on’.

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Boarding and day school.
Girls 11 - 18.
Tudor Hall, Wykham Park, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 9UR