Letters from the dorm: staging a play is a lot of blood, sweat and tears

Letters from the dorm: staging a play is a lot of blood, sweat and tears


Directing a play means juggling studies, schedules, and responsibilities like booking the stage for rehearsals.

What makes English schools particularly amazing is the amount of power the school (sometimes) gives you. The school that I go to, Roedean School, in Brighton, has an annual event called the Interhouse Plays Competition, where the students from each house are given the freedom to perform whatever play they want.

The Drama Department only gives a theme (for example, Shakespearean adaptations) and boom! You’re on your own: you pick your own directors, crew members and actresses (and plan your own auditions and rehearsals of course), write your own scripts,
make your own props, do your own sound and lighting, and so on.

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During my second last year, I had the opportunity to be my house’s House Plays Director, which is both amazing and nerve-wracking. For one, my house had scored consecutive wins in the two preceding years, and one of them was directed by our school’s legend, Fran, who is now a stage actress. Secondly, I was not exactly well-known in my school for people to have faith in my abilities. So, I had a lot to live up to, and I tried my best not to disappoint.

Writing a script was just the beginning; I found it hardest to manage 82 students all on my own, with half of them being under 14, and putting on a stage show within one month.

While juggling time between my studies and rehearsals and trying to compete for time slots for the theatre (or any big space in fact), I had to make sure the schedule satisfied everyone else as well. But when some girls disappear from rehearsals for whatever reason, it can really eat at your patience.

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There were many times when I had to work with my senior crew late into the night, even until 3am, just to plan backup rehearsals for those constantly absent, lecture students and instruct backstage crew members. It’s extremely taxing, especially when the younger
ones refused to listen at all, so a lot of tears were shed in the process.

Miraculously, we managed to pull off an almost flawless performance, making us the audience favourites. It was the most revolutionary play we had produced – a stark contrast to the crime and thriller dramas usually staged by our house. I chose to do a more supernatural and romantic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Needless to say, it was one of the most adventurous moments in my life, and though there were low points, it was an experience I will never forget.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne


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