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Drama

The College has enjoyed a long and distinguished reputation for drama productions that involve pupils from all year groups and houses. 

Here is a short film that showcases many of the recent productions. It includes brief interviews with the young actors and actresses: Drama at Eastbourne College 2017

For further access to many of these shows, please click here to see individual videos of College productions

The drama department hosts a great many curricular and co-curricular productions and events. The College Theatre features as an important venue on the small-scale professional touring circuit and supports a wide ranging programme of professional companies, many of whom offer workshops to accompany their performances. More details can be found on the academic Drama and Theatre Studies page, in the Latest News section of the website or in the Arts Programme.

Details of some recent College drama productions:

A Chorus Line

The drama department at Eastbourne College completed the year with a production of the iconic Broadway musical A Chorus Line. It originally opened in New York in 1975 to enormous success and transferred to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London the following year. A local resident kindly reviewed the production:

“It would seem to be not the most obvious choice for teenage pupils to be attempting, but those who think along these lines do so not knowing the directorial talents and imagination of the College's Director of Drama Tim Marriott.

It is an unusual show that it requires no set as it takes place on a bare stage of a theatre. The plot, such as it is, takes the form a large number of hopefuls at a dance audition for a musical being put their paces, physically and emotionally, by a very demanding director.   He has to reduce the number down to eight, and all the hopefuls need the work. Zach, the director, wishes to know what makes each dancer tick, and grills them about their background and why he should choose them. 

Tim Marriott has directed many fine productions at the College; however here he has surpassed himself with a production of imagination and drive. The show was staged in the magnificent Birley Centre, whose open performing area lent itself perfectly to this musical.

The superb band, directed by Director of Music, Dan Jordan, was glimpsed behind a scrim curtain and added a Broadway sound to the production. The entire cast was outstanding, vocally and dramatically, and it would be invidious to single out any one performer.
 

Mr Marriott, the entire production team and cast, are to be congratulated on a superb production of this show which came across to me far more than the 1975 original professional production. There’s praise indeed!”

Shell Shock

In September the Drama department, with support from Combat Stress, Help For Heroes and  the Armed Forces Network, produced Shell Shock - one soldier's story of coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, observations on life back in civvy street are presented as poignant, frequently comic and always moving.  The central character of ‘Tommy’ over- reacts with increasingly violent emotions to post office queues, Ikea, his relationships and family leading him into alienation and anger.  Drawn from personal experience, Neil Blower Watkin's writing is affecting, vernacular and direct.  OE Tom Page's performance as ‘Tommy’ was deeply engaging and haunting. 

The story, adapted from the original novel Shell Shock: The Diary of Tommy Atkins, highlights the work of charities Combat Stress and Help For Heroes, and over £200 was donated to these charities through a post-show collection.

Three Sisters

The Michaelmas term’s major production was Chekhov’s classic play, Three Sisters.  A large cast drawn from every area of the school made light of this deeply layered classical text, delivering every nuance of character, uncovering moment upon moment of neatly delivered comedy in a stylish, slick production that was beautifully directed by Fen Marriott and featured warm, funny, detailed, polished and affecting performances from every actor in the cast. 

A stunning set by Philip Mandelli Poole and lighting by Paul Turner complemented this ensemble performance.

Up on the Roof

The alternative smaller scale musical offering this year was Up on the Roof, featuring hits of the seventies and eighties. 

The show was performed by Bibi Convert, Megan Good, Fergus Piper, James Tomlinson, Christian Trzebinski and Imogen Smith with a large supporting cast drawn from every year group in the school and some talented young singers from the Saturday morning Junior Theatre Academy.  

A fun show of light humour and cracking tunes culminated in a rousing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody featuring the additional voice talents of the music and drama staff singing along in (almost) perfect harmony!

The Bula Loop

Tom Page, who left the College in June 2015, performed his new play, The Bula Loop, early in the Michaelmas term at College Theatre with two current pupils, George Tomsett and Hermione Wohlrab. 

Described by the Eastbourne Herald as “A sharply observed play of domestic bickering masking heart felt pain”, The Bula Loop is a poignant and darkly comic piece following a day in the life of a family living with autism. Adam dreams of travelling the world on a ‘Bula Loop’ round the world air ticket, but when his brother gets there first and announces his gap year plans over dinner, the family are forced to face some crucial questions… How will this family cope without him?  Who will help with Adam?  Who ate all the brownies… and where has the ketchup gone?   

Tom raised funds for the NAS (National Autistic Society) through on-the-door donations and bar sales. He also took on The Three Peaks Challenge with his autistic brother Ben in aid of the NAS and together the two events raised nearly £2,000.

39 Steps of Derring-Do all in a good cause…

Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of John Buchan’s novel and Hitchcock’s classic 1935 film The 39 Steps won the Laurence Olivier Award for best new comedy in 2007, was nominated for a Tony on Broadway and has been performed in over 50 countries around the world. The 39 Steps tells the story of handsome hero Richard Hannay and a mysterious murder at his London home. On the run from the police, he heads to Scotland to clear his name and discovers the significance of the 39 Steps. On the way he is launched into a series of incredible adventures meeting multiple bizarre characters.

This hit comedy thriller was performed at the College Theatre, in aid of St Wilfrid’s Hospice by four fearless young actors, Bertie Beeching, Megan Good, James Tomlinson and Ed Towey who took on the challenge of playing 139 characters in 75 minutes in this relentless roller coaster of a rip roaring yarn.  The four intrepid performers planned and executed the entire project from start to finish, determined to raise money for St Wilfrid’s Hospice and in doing so enthral packed audiences of fellow pupils, enthusiastic parents and public alike.  Safe to say the whole adventure was hugely entertaining but much more importantly, in just three evenings of collections, the four actors supported by their team of pupil stage hands and technicians, managed to raise a over £890 for an excellent cause.

Eastbourne College Productions at the Brighton Fringe Festival

In 2015 the College co-produced two new plays at the Brighton Festival.  Both plays began life as A-level devised examination performances but were subsequently been developed into full scale professional performances. Trailers for both productions can be seen on the College's dedicated You Tube Channel: www.youtube.com/perfatect. Funds are being raised for St Wilfrids Hospice and the Children of Peace charity.

The Twelfth Disciple at The Pit Theatre, Otherplace at the Basement, 24 Kensington St, Brighton BN1 4AJ

A 21st-century Judas is forced to give up his leader. As religious violence continues to tear the region apart, questions raised by imagining the emergence of a charismatic leader of a non-violent movement are every bit as pressing now as they were 2,000 years ago…

"Immediate, contemporary and poignant" Eastbourne Herald.

Fusing cinematic footage with an on stage interrogation, 'The Twelfth Disciple' is a political thriller with biblical bite. This production supports the work of the charity Children of Peace. Donations may be made to this cause at: https://www.justgiving.com/tim-marriott3

All Change at The DukeBox Theatre, Waterloo Street, Hove BA3 1AQ

A poignant comedy.

Ivor waits, his train of thought broken by fragmented memory. His daughter Lily packs his things as she prepares him for life in a ‘home’. The moment her back is turned, he unpacks…

Confusion reigns as misunderstandings multiply. Ivor won’t go quietly…

"A thoughtful play, taking challenging issues and making them richly entertaining” Eastbourne Herald.  

This production supports the work of St Wilfrid’s Hospice. Donations may be made at: https://www.justgiving.com/tim-marriott2

For further information on these productions, the charities they support or our theatre development work please contact: Linda Salway, Head of Creative Arts Development 01323 451931 lasalway@eastbourne-college.co.uk

Cole Porter: In the Still of the Night

The College’s major production, in the Still of the Night, opened on Monday 1 December.  An enthusiastic and hugely talented cast told the story of Cole and Linda Porter leaving Paris for Broadway and Hollywood in 1937 in a musical play featuring over twenty classic songs of the period. Performances of this sizzling production continued all week.

Eastbourne College and ‘The Twelfth Disciple’ support ‘Freedom from Torture’  

‘The Twelfth Disciple’ was originally devised by Eastbourne College drama pupils and is now developed into a full professional performance. Set in the Middle East, the play imagines a 21st century Judas forced to give up his leader to the authorities, but can he be trusted? And who, ultimately is pulling the strings?

This powerful, dynamic and provocative play previews where it started here in Eastbourne before opening in theatres in Bristol and London later in the autumn and stars Paul Albertson (Sherlock, Coronation Street, The Bill), Melanie Gray (Law and Order) and Royal Court and National Theatre actor Jaz Deol and features original music especially recorded for the production by ‘Daisy and The Dark’.  The play explores the character of Judas in a modern context asking further questions of what we’ve learned in 2,000 years…

‘Freedom from Torture’ (formerly The Medical Foundation) is a charity who provide support to victims of torture from across the globe.  Pictured are members of the cast talking to Eastbourne College pupils about the work of the charity.

A charity performance took place on Saturday 20 September at the College Theatre. Funds raised were donated to 'Freedom from Torture'.

Lower Sixth Arts Festival

The traditional Lower Sixth drama offering for the 2014 Arts Festival saw two plays performed.  Firstly ‘UCAS 30’, directed by Paul Lowden, involving (one hopes not too prophetically) eight Year 12 pupils acting out this high comedy imagining students suddenly discovering they have 30 minutes left to deadline to complete their UCAS applications.  This was followed in the magical setting of the Dell, by a larger cast performing Lorca’s great tragedy, ‘Blood Wedding’, adapted by OE Ben Deery and Director of Drama, Tim Marriott and expertly directed by our Theatre Professional, Gavin Robertson.  Both plays were performed to packed and enthusiastic audiences; the balance between comedy and drama proving highly effective.  All the performers were committed and professional but it is fair to say that David Meijer was particularly adept at playing the annoying Year 10 know-it-all in ‘UCAS 30’.  Tom Page was hugely charismatic as the tragic hero, Leonardo, in ‘Blood Wedding’ opposite the equally compelling Louise Watson as the bride. The performance was supported by wonderfully atmospheric music composed by Ellie Wicks and performed by a small band led by Molly Goss-Turner and Bethany Stephens.

GCSE practical performances

At the start of the summer term the Drama Department staged the work of GCSE pupils for external examination. Engaging and energetic interpretations of Harold Pinter’s short plays and sketches were matched by an atmospheric and imaginative original devised piece entitled ‘Disdain’. Both were performed to full houses.

Drama Performances

The highlight of the year for drama pupils is their practical performance.  At GCSE, AS and A2 pupils are required to devise scripted pieces for external examination and are assessed on their chosen skills, from acting through to set design.  This offers pupils the opportunity to experiment with the work of practitioners they have studied and imitate styles they have seen in performance.  In March 2014, scripted pieces by Year 12 included edited performances of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf', 'Death and The Maiden', 'The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband', 'Miss Julie' and 'The Dumb Waiter', whilst the Year 13 drama pupils devised their own performances resulting in varied work from a spoof crime caper through to wise cracking Nazis cooking up a storm in the kitchen and finally, an imagining of a 21st century Judas betraying his leader in a war torn middle eastern state featuring a comprehensive set design. 

I Love You Because

 A modern day musical love story. The New York Times described the show as, "Infectiously entertaining- full of wit and zest".

A cast, band and crew of more than sixty Eastbourne College students performed this award winning musical set in New York. Directed by Tim Marriott with musical direction by Nick Parrans-Smith, the show featured choreography by Kirsty Hamilton-Reid and Rambert's Hannah Lockyer.

Click here to see some of the highlights from the show.

Bond

Following his last show, CRUSOE, Gavin Robertson has now focused his attention on the Bond phenomenon, spoofing the movies eagerly awaited by millions, exploding every cliché in the book(s)... solo! In this production Bond meets his greatest arch-villain yet – Ian Fleming himself, along with a French sidekick, and the usual female companion. Scooby Doo meets Austin Powers!

Theatre Practitioner Gavin Robertson

Gavin Robertson has been Theatre Practitioner at Eastbourne College since 2010, a unique position that, with his body of work and distinctive style, enables students to study his work and style alongside other practitioners. He works one-to-one with students on GCSE and A-level projects, leading in devising theatre, as well as scripted work and running Y9 drama. He also assists the Drama Department in various ways, co-directing school productions, facilitating TV News day, LAMDA teaching and outreach activities such as the Eastbourne Schools Shakespeare Festival. It is a much valued partnership. The College has co-produced many of Gavin’s productions including 'A Space Oddity' in 2010, 'The Six Sided Man' in 2011-12 and his current show, 'Bond' which subsequently carries the College name as far afield as Adelaide, Kansas and Moscow.

Twelfth Night

At the very end of the Michaelmas term, disguise, deception and desire set the tone for a dynamic production of Shakespeare’s classic comedy of confusion, Twelfth Night. This energetic and physical production blended live music, hilarious antics and moments of touching intensity, all with a festive Christmas spin.

Separated twins battled with pompous preeners, lovesick ladies and drunken toffs (it was the season to be jolly after all!); the wise clown kept the audience entertained and up to date; and the grumpy ‘steward’ attempted to keep everyone in their place while love, sweet love, descended like the seasonal snow.

A rapid 75 minute show that left the audience chuckling and humming with joy, the cast excelled in bringing the beauty of the language and the wit of the bard to stunning life.

Pitch Black

The College is unique in that each year it produces a piece of original, collaborative theatre as a direct response to the devised element of pupils' A level exams.

Last year ‘Snared’, a thought provoking multi-media piece of theatre toured the region (Everyman, Cheltenham; The Mill Studio at the Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford; Gulbenkian, Canterbury) with a professional company. It was developed from an original idea by two gifted A level students, Alex Mackwood and Oceanne Slipper and designed by the highly talented Sophie Millns ( now in her second year at RADA).

GCSE and A level drama pupils were given the opportunity to observe rehearsal, take part in workshops with the actors and participate in the development of the piece. They studied the script and produced written responses to the final performance (a requirement of both GCSE and A level syllabuses).

This year the Drama Department produced ‘Pitch Black’. This is a thought provoking and emotive piece which draws directly from Tiggy Melloy and Elizabeth Prideaux’s moving and highly challenging piece produced for their A level exam in April 2013. Again, professional actors rehearsed in the College and students were be able to observe rehearsal and took part in workshops and discussions with the actors and the director.

The piece was directed by our resident theatre practitioner, Gavin Robertson, who brings with him a wealth of theatre production experience, a unique and distinctive style and a wide body of work. Students are required to study a particular practitioner/style for the A level syllabus so having this opportunity to work with an established professional is invaluable.

A number of pupils also acted in the production in small, cameo roles.

The aim of our approach to these productions is to closely involve our pupils (both those studying drama and others) with work in development. We wish to expose them to high standards of professional practice in order to challenge perceptions and broaden knowledge of the overall theatrical production experience.  Cross curricular links are also encouraged and explored.

Snared

In March 2012, Eastbourne College A level students Alex Mackwood, Oceanne Slipper, Sophie Millns and Lucy Tomkins devised and performed a gripping drama set in the African bush entitled ‘Snared’. This piece, inspired by the work of charities the High Five Club and the Born Free Foundation in Zambia, was tremendously effective and has since been developed into a professional play.

In February 2013, ‘Snared’ was performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre, University of Kent to a packed house, and was followed by a ‘talk back’ on conservation with Dr Cheryl and Manny Mvula (representing Born Free and High Five), Ian Redmond (Colleague of Diane Fosse and consultant on the movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’), journalist Simon Barnes (The Times) and wildlife broadcaster Bill Oddie.

A lively discussion was chaired by Tim Marriott, Director of Drama at the College. ‘Snared’ has now played theatres in Cheltenham, Margate, Bordon, Canterbury and Guildford as well as Eastbourne and provoked international interest – an amazing feat for a piece born out of a drama class and a tribute to the passion and vision of those students.

Following a recent performance of 'Snared' in Guildford, Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation sent the following message to Mr Marriott:

"Virginia McKenna and I attended ‘Snared’ at the Mill Studio in Guildford last week. Wow! A tour de force! So much energy packed into an hour and some deep and challenging issues. Well done to the actors, the director, the production team, the writer – everyone involved.

It seems the world is full of extremes. Those who shoot, kill, maim and destroy. Those who justify cruelty and suffering in the name of science. Those who turn away at the first sign of trouble. Those who remain oblivious to reality. No one who sees ‘Snared’ could be left unmoved or ignore the harsh realities it presents"


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