The Beacon of Banstead met the bright lights of the West End recently as Year 12 and 13 drama students from the Surrey school enjoyed two theatre trips to London as part of their A level studies.
Pupils experienced two wildly different performances, one cutting edge new production and one classic, albeit reinterpreted in a different setting from usual. The first trip was to Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre to see a new play, Things I Know To Be True, looking at family life through the eyes of four grown up siblings and performed by the famously physical Frantic Assembly company.
The second production was a 1950s set version of the slightly more familiar Romeo and Juliet at the Ambassadors Theatre, performed by the National Youth Theatre, the company which has produced such future world stars as Helen Mirren, Daniel Day Lewis, Orlando Bloom, David Walliams and Matt Smith.
“These were two very different experiences in every way and from an educational point of view that made them all the more valid,” said teacher Sam Ball, who oversaw the trips.
“The first play really made a big impact – some of the pupils were amazed to find they were actually in tears at the end, and couldn’t believe they’d become so emotionally involved with a series of characters, which only serves to underline just what an experience live theatre can be.
“That set the bar high for the second trip, and in fact it didn’t live up to expectation – the general mood of the group was that the cast didn’t really capture the imagination of the audience emotionally, and what impressed them most was the technical aspects of the staging. But from a teacher’s point of view, that’s just as interesting and as positive a reaction as them saying they liked it, because they’re developing critical faculties and developing their own opinions, which is wonderful.”
The trips were a highlight of the term so far for pupils at the Beacon School, which since the start of this academic year has been a member of the GLF Schools multi-academy trust.
“The students really enjoyed it and trips like these really improve their practical work, as well as increasing their ability to analyse and write about drama,” added Ms Ball. “We’re planning more trips in the new year, and I can’t wait to see how they respond to those plays.”
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