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For many years the Crompton House Drama Department has taken part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival. Our pupils have performed at many theatres in Greater Manchester including the Oldham Coliseum, the Lyric Theatre at the Lowry, Bolton Octagan and the Gracie Fields Theatre at Rochdale, but we’ve never been to Shaw.

Also we’ve only been able to present one play at each venue, so this year our drama teachers, Mrs Hammond and Mrs Bacon, decided that we produce our own festival on our doorstep and produced two classic Shakespeare plays. Our Year 8 and 9 pupils performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the older pupils performed Romeo and Juliet.  To give our sixth-formers more experience five students directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Shaw Playhouse 2 was packed and the Year 8 and 9 pupils acted with great confidence and attention to detail. For many of the actors this was their third Crompton House show, but for all of them it was their first Shakespeare play. Although the script was cut down to about 40 minutes, the language and length of the speeches were quite a challenge, yet all remembered their lines perfectly. The “mechanicals” were funny, and the lovers suitably dreamy. The directors Lizzy Wilson, Will Main, Hannah Williams, Jack Lawless and Emily Prophet were really impressed with the pupils. Lizzy said “I never knew why Miss Hammond got so stressed when she was directing. I know now! I was more nervous when the pupils went on than I ever was when I was performing!” Jack Lawless, who wants to be a primary teacher said “I really enjoyed seeing the pupils grow in confidence as the rehearsals went on. And they had so many great ideas.” Charlotte Wiener, Year 8, who played the part of Hippolyta said “It was good being directed by sixth-formers. I felt they could understand us better, and they gave us confidence to make our own suggestions.”

Romeo and Juliet was directed by Mrs Hammond and Mrs Bacon, and despite being about 45 minutes, allowed the cast to tell the story brilliantly. Jake Gibbons and Olivia Pilch took the main parts and were wonderfully believable. Jake has been in school productions from a very young age, but for Olivia playing Juliet was her first time on the stage! “I’d studied GCSE Drama and thought I’d give it a go. Lots of us auditioned for the part and I was thrilled that I was given the role of Juliet. I was a bundle of nerves before going on the stage for my first line, but then I gained more confidence and really enjoyed it. My parents and grandparents were in the audience and I don’t think they could believe what I was doing. I really loved it!” Aurooj Iltaf played the part of Mercutio, “I’ve been in a number of plays at Crompton House, and I what I really enjoyed was how we could all put ideas into the mix. Mrs Hammond wanted it to have a modern day setting so we used our phones and made the gangs more laddish.” Ruby Holland was one of the youngest in Romeo and Juliet and played the part of a kinsman. She said, “Working with the sixth-formers was quite daunting at the start, but we soon began working together as a group and I really enjoyed the rehearsals.”

Everyone was delighted that Mrs Harvey was able to help backstage, and take the photographs, and our thanks also goes to all the pupils who were working in the sound and lighting box, and to Shaw Playhouse 2 for the use of their wonderful theatre.

Mr Karl Newell, Headteacher, said, “The standard of drama at Crompton House is remarkably high, and by pupils starting their acting from Year 7, they mature into confident actors from an early age. It’s no wonder the school has some of the best A Level Drama results in the country.”