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Drama & Theatre Studies

 
 
Hiawatha, June 2017
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Photography Credit: Mr Ashton
 

Kent College provides outstanding opportunities for young people with an interest in theatre and performance in all its forms. Over the past ten years, the school has established a national reputation for theatre arts as a result of mounting a number of successful tours to America, staging a house array of challenging plays and musicals, and representing the UK at the first 'International Student Drama Festival' in Athens.

With seven members of staff, the Drama department has become a centre of excellence in which students can explore and refine their talents in a dynamic and highly creative atmosphere.

Performances are staged every term in the intimate Studio Theatre which can seat up to 70 people. Larger productions are staged in the £1m state-of-the-art  Countess of Wessex Theatre, which seats a maximum capacity of 300.

The Kent College Theatre was re-opened in 2012 by past pupil HRH The Countess of Wessex who has given her name to the 'Countess of Wessex Theatre'.

"Pupils have excellent outcomes in art, drama and music." ISI Report 2016

Kent College Productions

Year 5, 7, 8 and 9 Production - Hiawatha

A group of over 80 girls created a highly atmospheric production of Hiawatha last week, which enthralled four very responsive audiences. Working with such a large group of actors and dancers showed how exceptionally fortunate we are to have such a large theatre. The great 19th century poem was brought vividly to life with every student having the opportunity to deliver lines.

The professional standard set, lighting and projections created a world of misty forests and cloud-capped mountains and the costumes designed and made by year 9 students under the direction of the Textiles Department were magnificent.

We were delighted to welcome a group of year 5 students, their courage, extraordinary powers of projection and impressive stage technique was an inspiration for the senior school. This was the first time that the schools have combined for a junior production and we are very keen that this collaboration should continue. Thanks must go to all the staff both prep and senior who enabled this beautiful piece of theatre to reach the stage.

Year 9 to Sixth From Production, Ghetto

February 2017
Kent College Pembury’s 2017 production was another masterpiece in the school’s long history of outstanding performing arts.  This year saw a radical departure from previous productions at Kent College with the theatre space transformed into an abandoned warehouse and the audience fully immersed in the action of the play, moving around the space with the actors. 
 
"Ghetto”, by Joshua Sobol is set in the Jewish ghetto of Vilna, Lithuania in 1942, and based on diaries written during the darkest days of the holocaust, tells of the unlikely flourishing of a theatre at the very time the Nazis began their policy of mass extermination. First seen in Israel in 1984 and premiered in Britain in David Lan's version in 1989 at the National Theatre, Ghetto won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play. It has since been seen in Berlin, Vienna, Cologne, Toronto, Oslo, Paris, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles and New York before students at the independent day and boarding school in Pembury produced their own stunning version.
 
Headmistress Julie Lodrick commented: 'I was touched and moved beyond words after seeing one of the five performances of Joshua Sobol's play, 'Ghetto', this year's annual drama production at Kent College.  The audience was unable to speak at the end and we all filed out in quiet contemplation; something I have never experienced at a school production.'
 
'Ghetto' requires a talented and versatile cast of actors, singers, dancers and musicians and it is testament to the willingness of the girls and staff to take on such a challenging and emotionally demanding piece of theatre.  All the seating in the theatre was removed and the space was turned into  a large warehouse setting enabling the production to become a piece of immersive theatre, which served to make the performance even more powerful.  The cast had been to hear the experiences of a holocaust survivor earlier in the term, it was a privilege to see the young performers capture and deliver their roles with a maturity and understanding beyond their years.  
 

AS Drama Performance, Miss Julie

 

May 2016

 

Carousel

February 2016

Why has Carousel been described as ‘the greatest musical of the twentieth century’ by Time magazine?
"It is twenty years since I last directed this show at Kent College and my fascination with the work has never dimmed. Famously Rodgers and Hammerstein were commissioned to write this show by a member of the United States Government to bring comfort to the tens of thousands of grieving war widows .What they fashioned from the bones of an obscure Eastern  European play is, in my opinion, one of the most profound and moving pieces of musical theatre ever created.
The theme of love transcending death is at its heart and to me it has parallels with the greatest music drama ever written Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
The second scene of Carousel known as ‘the bench scene’ is a touchstone for all subsequent composers of musicals, the sublime blend of music, dialogue and subtext is surely a work of genius. Steven Sondheim has described this scene as ‘the greatest twenty minutes in musical theatre history’.
And the last ten minutes of the show with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in its original context has I feel never been equalled.
I fell in love with the coast of New England whilst taking a production of Jane Eyre to our sister school, Kent's Hill in Maine, many tours followed and holidays and my visits to the extraordinarily beautiful island of Nantucket with its grey weather beaten shingled houses has been the inspiration for the design of Carousel. In 1992 Nicholas Hytner and Bob Crowley totally reimagined Carousel and purged it of all its sentimental 1950s accretions, it’s their production that has inspired us." By Nigel Ashton

Lord of the Flies

July 2015
'The Lord of The Flies’ script, adapted for stage by Nigel Williams, presents a huge challenge to any cast, school or professional. The unfinished sentences, the single word interruptions, repeated words and phrases and characters speaking simultaneously, in other words the way children really do speak, is tremendously difficult to pull off. Our two Lower School casts took on this challenge and conquered it magnificently, delivering utterly convincing and moving performances, rich in characterisation and emotional truth.
In addition to the hard work of the girls, we were very lucky to have an extremely talented team to create a beautifully atmospheric show, from Mr Ashton’s jungle set, to Mr Hougham’s sound and light design. Mrs Noyek’s and Katherine Sweet’s choreography and Mrs Munnings’ hair and makeup which gave Jack’s gang their menacing tribal look for acts two and three. Katherine Sweet and Kirsty Girvan did a fantastic job as our stage managers, organising those school uniform costumes was no mean feat! Holding it all together, organising rehearsal space, and ensuring tickets were sold and programmes printed was the job of our wonderful producer, Mrs Cable. 
We thank you all, staff and girls alike, it’s a privilege to work with such talented and dedicated people. Thank you also to parents for your ongoing support and helping the actors to learn their lines – greatly appreciated!

 

 

On the Razzle

 

February 2015

Kent College combined all of its formidable theatrical resources to stage this effervescent farce.
"A rollercoaster ride of comedic chaos, executed effortlessly by our ambitious pupils."
From the 9th – 12th February, Kent College Pembury was transported from a cold English winter, to summer in Vienna at the turn of the 19th century.  With specially designed sets, the most elaborate the school has seen for many years, beautiful Edwardian costumes and a cast of over 60 hugely talented actresses, this production of Tom Stoppard’s outrageous farce certainly had all the wit and panache to banish the winter blues. 

 

The plot revolves around the chase of two naughty grocer’s assistants who, following their master’s binge with a new mistress, escape to Vienna on a spree. The complexities of Stoppard’s script were handled masterfully by the gifted cast who ensured that the audience were left roaring with laughter. 

 

It was clear that the cast and crew had dedicated a lot of hard work to the production, alongside the expert direction from Kent College staff.  Special recognition and thanks to the school’s Head of Drama, Nigel Ashton who designed and sourced the set, as well as producing and directing the show.

 

Little Shop of Horrors

 

July 2014

 

Over 40 students from key stage 3 presented a dazzling version of the multi awarding winning musical ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ over three nights to a packed theatre last week. The show is a spoof of 1950s horror musicals and featured a giant man eating plant brilliantly operated by Ellie Cluley and Saffron Gilbert.

 

The close harmony singing was very impressive from the chorus and the Motown inspired Ronnettes. Leading roles were taken by Saffron Pooley and Lauren Bagge as the heroine Audrey and Natasha Pope and Hannah Prideaux as the hapless Seymour Krelborn. They were given superb support by Sophie Crowther and Primrose Fincham as the sadisitic dentist, Georgina Emmanuel and Georgina Nimmo as the shop owner Mushnik and the voice of the plant was brilliantly portrayed by Mya Kinlock and Myfi Smetham.  Cat Noyek choreographed the show with great wit and panache and the actors performed on a very atmospheric set wearing original 1950s costumes all under the baton of Mr Kent Davis. A huge achievement for all involved.  

 

Agamemnon - by Aeschylus, in a version by Ted Hughes

February 2014

From the 11th – 14th February, a talented cast of over sixty KC performers and three young male actors brought to life a new production of the inexhaustible Greek tragedy masterpiece ‘Agamemnon’. Using the full and ambitious resources of the KC Drama, Technical Theatre, Music & Dance departments in the School’s Countess of Wessex Theatre, students were delighted to be involved in this intense and emotional piece of Drama:

"It has been a fantastic opportunity to experience this powerful character’s (Clytemnestra) broad range of emotion. Despite the intensity of the tragedy I have loved every minute; the atmosphere of the performance, the spirit of the cast and crew and even covering myself in blood and slaughtering my husband! This production has challenged me to experiment with a character of evil nature and seduction.” Hannah, Upper Sixth

What makes Greek tragedy so moving is its mixture of intense emotion and rigorous order, the feeling that we are watching both archaic ritual and something that still seems potently relevant to our lives 2,500 years later. Kent College is thrilled to be presenting a new production of this inexhaustible masterpiece. Ted Hughes’ version of the drama is outstanding - supple, eloquent and full of vivid, often disturbing imagery. His tough, sinewy poetry is a perfect match for Aeschylus’ great portrayal of human barbarity and its eventual supersession by civilization. One succinct image succeeds the next without the filler of so many other translations so that the dialogue has great clarity and bite. It is as if Hughes has sandblasted grime from an old building; we know that the building is old but it looks new and the bricks have been revealed. It is also an eminently speakable translation and in itself a pleasure to listen to. (Head of Drama, Nigel Ashton)

Evita

February 2013
From the 12th to the 16th February 2013, Kent College’s Countess of Wessex Theatre was transformed into fiery 1950s Argentina as the school delivered its' musical masterpiece: ‘Evita’ (lyrics by Time Rice, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber), leaving audiences wowed once again by the incredible ambition and talent of pupils and staff at the leading independent girl’s school in Kent.

Kent College’s reputation for excellence in the Performing Arts continues to soar following outstanding productions over recent years including ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Carmen’.

Congratulations to the drama and music departments, actresses, musicians, crew members and all those involved in bringing yet another mesmerising production to life.

The year’s KC production once again reached professional standards and I was proud to hear from so many friends of the school that they had a fantastic night coming to see it. Personally, it was the team work behind such a stunning show which meant the most to me. There were girls on stage as young as 10, working with and supported by 17 and 18 year olds. The back stage crew were also phenomenal and we remain so fortunate to have exceptional drama, music and dance departments who all work together so effectively.'  Mrs Huang, Headmistress

Drama Scholarships

Drama scholarships are available to talented candidates who join the school at age 11+, 13+ and 16+, and our drama scholars play a leading role in the department. Click here for more information on Drama Scholarships

Years 7-9

Drama is taught to all pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9. There are approximately 15 students in each group and all groups are taught by a drama specialist.

At Key Stage 3, class work is largely practical in nature. Pupils are taught a broad range of exploratory and performance skills aimed at developing an awareness of the theatrical processes of rehearsing, performing and evaluating.

Through a combination of improvising, devising and script work, the pupils are encouraged to be highly creative in both their characterisation and their staging techniques. As well as being taught how to breathe, project and manipulate the voice, the pupils are also taught how to become more physically versatile through regular mask and mime work.

As a result of the work done at Key Stage 3 level, it is hoped that all pupils will not only have grown in confidence but will also have improved their communication skills and learnt to be both more physically and vocally expressive.
 

GCSE Drama

(Years 10 & 11) - GCSE drama is a very popular option at KC. The course begins with an introduction to the naturalistic acting method developed by Konstantin Stanislavski along with a series of practical strategies aimed at aiding pupils in devising their own dramatic material. 

Over the duration of the course, the pupils are then assessed on their rehearsal and performance skills. They will also be expected to perform at least two scripted pieces and two devised pieces. In conjunction with their practical tasks, the pupils are also assessed on their written work and are prepared for a written examination at the end of Year 11 on both a set text that has been studied in class and a live performance.

As with the AS/A2 course, all pupils taking GCSE Drama are taught by two specialist tutors in order to maximise their creative and learning experience.

 

AS/A2 level Theatre Studies

(Year 12 & 13) - A level Theatre Studies is widely regarded as both an excellent preparation for those wishing to pursue a career within the theatre and an academic subject in its own right. The course encourages pupils to analyse, explore and practise a diverse spectrum of theatrical genres and performance styles.

In the AS level year, the students begin by workshopping two stylistically contrasting plays. Students are then cast and directed by their teachers in a further play which is performed around Easter.

As the students progress on to the A2 level course, the syllabus requires the pupils to become independent learners and to tackle both the devising process and the production of a scripted piece with limited assistance from the teachers. At both AS and A2 level, there is also an element of written coursework and a written examination.

 

 

A level Drama Exchange 

A level students have the opportunity to participate in a well established drama exchange with a school in Maine, USA. In October 2003, KC girls performed 'The Beggar's Opera' to full and appreciative audiences at three venues in Pennsylvania.

 

 

Whole School Performances

In addition to the opportunities offered to the pupils within the academic timetable, the drama department regularly stages school shows of an exceptionally high standard.
With casts of up to 100 students, the main school productions include girls from Year 7 up to Year 13. Plus, under the guidance of a full time Theatre Technician, students also run all technical aspects of the shows. In larger productions, male roles are played by boys from local schools.
In recent years, the school has become renowned for the attention to detail in all areas, from direction and acting to set and lighting design. Our costumes are also frequently hired from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

Previous productions have included: 'On the Razzle', 'Little Shop of Horrors', 'Agamemnon', 'Evita', 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'Carmen', 'Romeo & Juliet', 'Jane Eyre', 'Cabaret', 'Into the Woods', 'The Cherry Orchard', 'Trojan Woman', 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Camelot'.

 

Extra Curricular Activities & Clubs

We are delighted to see the return of the fabulous West End Workshops this Easter holidays from Monday 10th - Wednesday 12th April. 

 This year we will be running a Mamma Mia Workshop with Mamma Mia star Jasmin Colangelo, Beauty and the Beast Day with Dale Branston who is currently starring in the cinema release as The Baker, and Junior Disney Workshops with Disney actress Scarlett Fawcett.

These performing arts workshops are available to boys and girls from across the local area and you don't have to be a KC pupil to attend. Spaces are very limited. Email cableg@kentcollege.kent.sch.uk  for further information and a booking form.

 

 

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