St Helen and St Katharine has a thriving Drama Department which aims to present high quality extracurricular productions that are open to everyone. Each year we stage at least one senior production (jointly with Abingdon School), one Middle School production and one Lower School production. In addition to this there are often smaller performances throughout the year, and Abingdon School also provides a senior production.
Last year, five productions took place, including contrasting styles and genres, meaning plenty of opportunities for all.
The Sixth Form production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband was filmed in the Studio Theatre at St Helen’s and amused audiences with its satirical humour. In 2020 large scale senior productions included the classic musical My Fair Lady, which brought the YPH stage to life and gained a five star review in the Oxford Mail, whilst Abingdon’s Amey Theatre welcomed audiences to watch Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III bursting on to the stage with an impactful production.
In December 2020 the memorable Middle School production of Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings was livestreamed from the Studio Theatre, enabling audiences not only in the UK, but across the globe to enjoy the live performance. Most recently the Lower School production of Wind in the Willows transformed the YPH in to a brightly coloured riverbank, charming audiences with the escapades of Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole, as they travelled by boat, car and caravan on their adventures.
Musical productions often include a cast of over 40 students and all performances are supported by a student backstage crew who play a vital role in keeping everything running smoothly! In addition to staff-directed plays, students also produce, direct and perform productions themselves. Last year, two of our Sixth Form drama scholars joined together to create and direct a Shakespeare Showcase. This was a wonderful opportunity for students from Year 10 to Upper Sixth to create beautifully characterised performances in extracts from four richly engaging plays.
Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 also have the opportunity to write and direct a performance by entering our annual Playwriting Competition. This year’s winner Lily-May in Year 9, wrote and directed an original piece entitled Taigh Taibhse (Ghost House), an exciting adventure set in the Scottish Highlands. This performance was enjoyed by students, parents and staff.
In August 2019 we were delighted to take Contact Light, an original play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Written by two old girls, Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson this was a collaboration between St Helen’s and Abingdon Schools and we are looking forward to a further Edinburgh Fringe collaboration in 2022.
Junior, Lower and Middle School drama clubs work towards lunchtime performances based on improvisational work explored throughout the year. Sixth Form drama assistants and teachers run these clubs, offering enjoyable, informal platforms for exploring and developing drama skills through games and activities. Alongside being fun, drama clubs also give younger students a sense of how they can enhance and improve upon their class work if they choose to continue with drama further up the school.
Quite simply, there is something for everyone in St Helen's drama. Whether you want to be on stage or behind the scenes, if you are passionate about theatre, keen to learn and willing to devote time and energy to creating exciting work then you can be involved!
Details of drama clubs and activities can be found in Beyond.