Opportunities to be involved in or to run extracurricular drama activities are many and varied. This is made all the more special by the enthusiasm and commitment shown by our students.
Our older students are always keen to share their ideas and knowledge with those further down the School. Along with staff who are passionate about their subject, this helps to make extracurricular drama at St Helen’s an exciting and vibrant environment, instilling an appreciation of the dramatic arts that lasts a lifetime
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 and performance, keen to learn and willing to devote time and energy to creating exciting work then you can be involved! Come and be part of the creative picture!
Large scale productions
Many of our recent productions have enjoyed sell out audiences, giving students the opportunity to enjoy showcasing their hard work to a full and appreciative theatre. 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, four large productions took place, encompassing contrasting styles and genres, meaning plenty of opportunities for all.
Recent productions have included Little Women, Grease, The Visit, Beauty and the Beast, Animal Farm, As You Like It, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Alice in Wonderland, My Fair Lady, Charles III, Second Person Narrative, Hetty Feather and Seussical the Musical.
In addition to our main performances, we offer a number of smaller opportunities throughout the year. Sixth Form drama scholars often direct other students in productions and recent projects have included an original verbatim theatre production entitled Bubbles, written by two Sixth Form drama scholars. A production of All on Her Own Terrence Rattigan. A scholar-directed Shakespeare Showcase. Forthcoming projects include an original piece of devised physical theatre and a dramatic production with music focusing on unknown Greek Heroines.
Original playwriting is also encouraged and supported through the annual Playwriting Competition, with the winning entry being staged as a lunchtime performance. In 2023 the winning playwriting competition production was Jazz Junction, written by a student in Year 9, which was enjoyed by an audience of students, parents and staff, This was also livestreamed for those parents who were unable to attend in person.
Clubs and societies
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. The Sixth Form drama club allows a group of dedicated students the opportunity to hone their performance skills in an informal environment, led by Sixth Form drama scholars. Students are encouraged to take the initiative in utilising drama spaces to undertake independent rehearsal or practical work during lunchtimes and after school and the drama department is always buzzing with groups of students working on performances.
Year 11 and Sixth Form students with a keen interest in film, also have the opportunity to join the Abingdon Film Unit, which takes place at Abingdon School, working with professional film and documentary makers to develop their own filmmaking skills.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Students frequently enjoy the opportunity to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with an original show, produced jointly with Abingdon School. In August 2022, we enjoyed taking an original production, Antiques written by a student then in Upper Sixth, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This project was a collaboration between St Helen’s and Abingdon Schools and afforded students the unique experience of performing as part of this prestigious theatre festival. And, in August 2019, we were delighted to take another collaboration project with Abingdon School to the Edinburgh Fringe. Contact Light was an original play, written by two St Helen’s alumni, Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson. Both enjoyed successful runs at the festival.