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29th Jun, 2022

Leading thespians lend support to students producing lockdown play

Ian Hughes 15th May, 2020 Updated: 15th May, 2020

A SCHOOL in Stratford has been supported by some of the leading names in British theatre to produce a play about living under lockdown.

Year 12 students at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School have created a new play about the experience of living through the pandemic.

The intention is for the students to perform their piece of theatre once they can return to school.

The initiative has been supported by Dominic Cooke, who directed Ironbark starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and Alexi Kaye Campbell, writer of Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.

Both took the time to film and send messages of support to the students, as well as sharing their experiences of lockdown and giving helpful tips on how to devise the piece and write characters.

This was followed by a video from Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Jacqui shared some of her experience of what makes an exciting piece of performance art with the students.

She said: “It’s fantastic to see Stratford Girls’ Grammar School students responding so creatively to the current challenges.

“We know that this experience of lockdown can feel isolating and demotivating. But at the same time, we are also seeing an explosion of colour. We have never seen as many creative responses being made and shared by individuals, families, friends and strangers. T

“That instinct to make for community is keeping us going and reminds us of the important role that theatre and arts have in making sense of our lives and the world we live in.”

The A-Level Drama curriculum requires students to devise their own piece of original theatre, so teachers at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School pre-emptively asked students to keep a diary of their initial lockdown experiences.

Now, these thoughts are being shared with each other during group video calls to inspire the creative process.

Susan Frater, the school’s joint head of drama said: “Theatres in this country have only been closed a handful of times before, such as during the Plague and World War II.

“This is a unique point in history so we wanted students to make their own piece of theatre in response. We are pushing the boundaries of virtual teaching and thus ensuring we keep creativity alive. The interest and advice from professionals within the industry has been invaluable and we are extremely grateful for all of their support.”

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