One chilly Thursday night, 22nd November, King Ethelbert’s students, parents, teachers and local community found themselves washed up on the shores of ancient Ephesus for a riotous adventure of mistaken identity, hilarious slap-stick comedy and audience interaction in our very own school hall and – here is the best part – watching 23 of our delightful Year 7 students performing alongside the professional cast from The Royal Shakespeare Company. The Comedy of Errors First Encounters production, performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in partnership with King Ethelbert School, was nothing short of a rip-roaring success and our Year 7 actors took pride of place with their outstanding and innovative performance which told Egeon’s story to kick the whole production off in superb style.
Our wonderful Year 7 cast, guided and prepared by their RSC Associate Schools teachers, Carol O’Shea, Oliver Morris and Kim Voisey and their professional theatre mentor, Ellie Wright from The Marlowe Theatre, devised a truly beautiful and inventive storytelling using object manipulation to create large and impressive moving puppets. They created the Antipholus and Dromio twins (who get mixed up and separated after birth) from spanners, shoes, bottles and pliers and created a huge moving ship and ship-wreck scene from a length of rope and some netting. Not only this, but they also performed 36 lines of Shakespeare’s script expressively and proudly, as well as creating special soundscapes for atmosphere. Talk about burst with pride!
The performance was also played in the afternoon for the whole of Year 7, who had previously studied the play in English, using rehearsal room approaches themselves. Many of our Year 7 students also participated in a design competition to create an important part of the stage set – a disc bearing designs of the most exciting features of Margate. The three winning designs were incorporated into the final piece (pictured) which was created by Emma Sutton, one of our talented Art and Design teachers. It looked stunning.
Let’s hear how our talented Year 7s felt on the night:
“It felt like I was a professional, even though I am not and I have learned that Shakespeare is not that hard to understand.” (Emily)
“I felt so happy and proud! I would love to do more!” (Katie)
“The whole experience was fascinating and the amount of energy the RSC actors put in really boosted my confidence. It felt amazing to know that, one day, those people started out just like me.” (Darcy)
…..And now, let’s hear it from the audience:
“To me, the children’s performance was the best part (biased, as a proud parent of one of them!). I noticed some local children in the audience — I think it definitely makes Shakespeare accessible to a younger audience. I think the public feel less intimidated coming to a school to watch the RSC rather than the highbrow Globe! Cost is also a factor, too.” (Kirsty Beckett, staff member and parent of a young performer).
“My husband and I came and thought it was brilliant! I thought the performance was excellent — amazing energy, really funny, very clever staging and great use of music. Loved the improvisation and the enjoyment showed by the actors. The students’ part was really professionally done and well-integrated into the overall performance.” (Vicki Peaple, staff member)
“I thought the whole performance was absolutely superb and am finding it difficult to pick a favourite moment (obviously aside from when our students performed!). Seeing the actors play a musical instrument (sometimes more than one) and then immediately act as well was impressive.”(Tom Sellen, Assistant Head Teacher.)
The school also got to take part in a live broadcast on BBC Radio Kent on Wednesday, 21st November on the Dominic King show. The feature included some recorded sound of our student cast rehearsing. They sounded so professional, clear and confident. This was followed by an interview with Robin Bellfield from the RSC and Carol O’Shea, Lead RSC Associate Schools’ teacher.
Watch this space for Romeo and Juliet – our next performance adventure – at The Marlowe Theatre on Tuesday, 19th March. Some of our Year 7s have already been inspired to sign up for the cast!