24 March 2021
Miss Stacey Williams, Director of Drama
The double hit of both theatres and schools being closed down in March 2020 set the Drama Department and all our performance students thinking, “How do we do this now?” It has been a rollercoaster of a year, to say the least, but with resilience and curiosity we have discovered new ways to tempt our imaginations, used new technologies to aid our creativity and learnt new skills to expand our versatility.
Film making and acting for screen
Film making and acting for screen, introduced at school shortly before COVID-19 struck, flourished this year. During the first lockdown students began to master the skills of storyboarding, camera angles and video editing in our #VirtualValley. This was expanded during the autumn term when we were able to work physically together, albeit in year bubbles. With the return of school closures in January this year, remote film making classes continued, with a focus on Year 7 and Lower Sixth. Students rose to the challenge of using only the technology stored within their phones to create silent movies, adverts, trailers and short films like a pro. Their creativity and expertise has been outstanding, with end results starring not only our students but Woldingham parents as well. I’m sure Woldingham has a BAFTA-winning film director in its future!
Another new skill we explored during both periods of remote learning was playwrighting. A small group of budding playwrights from Years 7, 9, 10 and Lower Sixth have met weekly online to create characters, discuss possible scenarios, and practise script writing techniques. Their project, called Interlocked Down, features a selection of characters who live in an apartment block during a lockdown. Students are writing a series of monologues for these characters, in a similar style to Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, with the difference that our apartment block inhabitants are interlinked in some way. This is an ongoing collaborative project, where we are taking the time to nurture skills and materials. We hope, as restrictions relax, we can stage the monologues for live performance.
Although this unique period has been helpful for learning and embedding new theatrical skills, time has also been spent keeping our performance groups bubbling along. Behind the scenes, street and contemporary dance classes, called Dance with Attitude, have met regularly online, as have our Drama and Performing Arts Scholars, Arts Award students and the Westend Wold cast. These groups have been creating and preparing performance material, ready for when we can perform as a whole community in our amazing auditorium once again. Since our return to school earlier this month, both teachers and students have been excited to be working in the same space again and the studio has been buzzing with scenes from musicals such as Matilda and Mary Poppins, as well as more dramatic scenes from Greek tragedy, Medea.
As we look to the future, we can almost smell the greasepaint. The start of the summer term will be fueled with anticipation, as we shift gear and kickstart performance projects waiting patiently in the wings. The Lower Sixth will recommence their rehearsals of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, ready for performance in the 2021 autumn term. Students from all year groups will rejoin their drama and performing arts clubs, with the aim of staging a whole school comeback performance to end the academic year of all years.
To celebrate students’ achievements in drama and the performing arts during the past year we made a short film for the whole school to enjoy at this week’s end of term assembly. Click here to enjoy it too.