For the second time this term I was still smiling hours after a Clyst Vale Drama group had performed. This time it was the Year 10 GCSE group’s performance of A Comedy of Errors as part of the Shakespeare in School Festival at the Phoenix Theatre. The SiS director described it as hilarious, a brilliant ensemble performance, with 110% commitment. He identified two 16th century influences which made the piece even truer to its origins: wordless dance with music at key points, and the pantomime influence of commedia dell’arte. The result was an explosion of colour, slapstick humour, comic pauses, double-takes, exaggerated expressions and deliberate over-acting. (There were one or two errors, mostly involving props, but such was the quick-thinking and confidence of our actors that these were swiftly used to generate some of the biggest laughs of the evening).
Our students gained enormously from the experience. They spent a whole day rehearsing with professionally-trained actors in a real theatre. GCSE Drama relies on strong teamwork, so taking part in a public production helps forge those links. There was also the huge satisfaction of a job well done, and of genuinely entertaining a mixed-age audience from seven to over seventy. The boost in personal confidence achieved by acting in public cannot be underestimated, either. I should add that the students’ behaviour was impeccable all day. Special mention must go to Ms Ruscoe, who directed the performance and whose inspiration and vision created the framework for the piece.
It was a really great night out, as I’m sure all Clyst Vale parents in attendance would agree. There was an excellent, engaging performance of Macbeth by Alphington Primary, and a “House of Horror” performance of Titus Andronicus by South Dartmoor with more deaths than actors. However, there is no question which performance had the most energy, humour and colour. Once again, our students did us proud.