Drama Masterclass: A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream in the midst of winter may seem a little strange, but the young actors of the Prep School Drama Masterclass skilfully transported their full-house audiences to an enchanted forest, where humans and spirits became spell-bindingly entwined through the combined power of magic and love.
The actors, all from Years 7 and 8, showed real talent and stage presence in their convincing portrayal of this complex story.
There were some fine performances by the leading players and wonderful dance scenes and physical theatre by the fairies and Puck, directed by Mr Burden, the Prep School contemporary dance teacher.
Mr Meier's forest lighting, (assisted by James Upton,) and fiery (literally!) special effects were stunning, as were Mr Barclay's backdrop projections and sound effects.
The costumes, of some indeterminate early twentieth century design, contrasted well, in their fashionable boldness, with the airy, woodland garb of the fairy kingdom.
Make-up, face painting and glorious hairstyles completed the picture, thanks to Mrs Brundle, Mrs Mizon and Tilly Atherton. Bottom's donkey's head and Titania's crown were beautifully made by Mrs Anja Marr, the film make-up expert and a parent, who kindly joined the team.
The scene which always makes everyone laugh, the Mechanicals' play-within-the-play, was indeed very funny and a great way to round off the evening, followed by the sparkling fairy dust of the final scene.
As one of Shakespeare's most famous plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream is often considered to be a rather lightweight comedy. It was written, it is believed, to be performed at a royal wedding, so the themes of marriage and entertainment are apt, yet it looks much more seriously too at the themes of true love, dominance, relationships and, indeed, Elizabeth I's role and position, in the character of Titania, linked to 'The Ditchley Portrait', depicting her as the fairy queen.
The contains some great Shakespearean lines, such as "The course of true love never did run smooth." and "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" but, more significantly, it is a play through which Shakespeare explores the two sides of Man's being: the physical and the spiritual, and his woodland fairies hark back to earlier Druid beliefs in spirits and natural forces.
All in all, it has much more depth than at first appears and the children did well to explore and interpret the long and complex text. They all worked incredibly hard and gave so much of their own time, energy and talent, rehearsing in the evenings and at weekends, generously supported by their parents and families.
It was great fun directing them; I thank them all and the other members of staff involved for all their support.